Your 17th birthday is a watershed in your life – it’s the day you can legally drive a car on the public road. But you’ll need to apply for your provisional driving licence before you can start learning to drive. It’s quick and easy, especially if you apply online. Here’s how…
How old do you have to be to learn to drive in the UK?
Most young drivers need to be 17 before driving on the road. However, if you receive (or have applied for) the enhanced rate of the mobility component of a Personal Independence Payment, you can start your driving lessons from your 16th birthday. You can check your eligibility here.
If you want to start driving sooner there are lots of companies that allow you to get behind the wheel on private land before your 17th birthday.
When will my provisional licence arrive?
To make sure your licence arrives in time for your birthday, you can apply for it up to three months in advance. However, regardless of when it arrives, you can’t get behind the wheel until your birthday.
Just as importantly, even if you’ve applied for your licence in good time but it fails to arrive before your birthday, you can’t start driving until you’ve got you’ve actually got your licence in your hands.
However, as it should take just a week for your licence to arrive (once you’ve submitted the application), two months should be plenty of time. Applying for a provisional driving licence is simplicity itself. All you have to do is complete the relevant driving licence and photocard application forms (known as D1 forms and available from most post offices). Or you can speed things up by applying online.
How much is a provisional licence?
It costs £34 to apply for your provisional licence online and £43 if you’d prefer to apply via post. For both channels you’ll also need to factor in costs of potentially getting some new passport style photos if required.
How can I apply for my provisional licence?
You don’t have to apply for your provisional driving licence through the post though; you can do it from the comfort of your favourite armchair by using the online service. If you’d rather choose snail mail, you will find the address and other useful bits of info on the Gov.uk website here.
It’s a fact
Once you’ve got your licence, it’s automatically yours until you’re 70. But you have to renew the photocard part every 10 years (with a current mug shot), and as you can read later on, it’s very easy to lose your licence if you do something daft…
If you’re applying for your licence online, make sure you use the official website. There are several official-sounding third-party sites out there that’ll submit your application for you – but they charge you a fee and it’s debatable whether or not they add any value.