Driving for the first time is an exciting prospect. What is your first car going to be? How will you afford it? How much will the insurance be?
And while all these questions are very important, there is one thing that is considerably more important.
Actually learning to drive in the first place. So, in this article, we are going to look at everything you need to know about learning to drive, from applying for a licence to how much your tests will cost.
How do I apply for a driving licence?
Firstly, you need to apply for a provisional driving license. You need this regardless of whether you are looking to drive a car, a motorbike or a moped. And to do this you must;
- Be at least 15 years and 9 months old
- Be able to read a number plate from 20 meters away
- Provide addresses where you’ve lived for the past 3 years
- Provide an identity document (or a valid UK biometric passport)
- Have your National Insurance number (if known)
- Pay £34 by credit or debit card
If you apply online with the method above, it should take roughly a week for your licence to arrive. However, you can also apply by post:
- You will need to complete a D1 application form
- You can get this from either the DVLA form ordering service or your local Post Office
- You will need to include original documents confirming your identity
- A colour passport-style photograph
- A cheque or postal order payable to the DVLA totalling £43
- If all of your documents are from the UK then you send it to;
- DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AD
- Or, if any of your documents are from outside the UK;
- DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AF*
*this is correct as of January 2017 and for more information head to the gov.uk page.
With a postal application, it can take up to three weeks for your licence to arrive.
Although you can apply for a provisional at just 15, you cannot start learning to drive a car until you are 17 years old.
How much will driving lessons cost?
Now you’ve got your provisional sorted, it’s time to book some driving lessons. There is no set cost for learning to drive, it really depends who you go with. However, whatcar.com estimate that the average cost of a driving lesson is £24.
They also contacted RED driving school and British School of Motoring for their average prices. RED Driving School charge £276 for ten hours of lessons and British School of Motoring charge £230.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) say that on average, you’ll need around 47 hours of instruction and 22 hours of private practice before taking your test.
The Government have put together a list of approved driving instructors, which you can find here.
Of course not all approved driving instructors in your area will be listed but we do recommend that you try and go through a driving instructor that is on this list.
Don’t forget you need to insure your car for private practice. All you have to do is let the insurance company know that a learner driver will be driving it and they will update it accordingly. Also, don’t forget L plates on both the front and back of the car.
How much will my theory test cost?
Before you can take your practical driving test then you have to take your theory test. This consists of two parts; multiple choice and hazard perception.
In the multiple choice, you will be asked 50 questions and you have just under an hour to complete it. You have to score 43 out of 50 to pass.
You have to get 44 out of 75 on the hazard perception to pass.
Your theory test will cost £23, the amount doesn’t change regardless of whether you take it on a weekday or a weekend.
Your theory test certificate is valid for 2 years. This means that you then have 2 years to take your practical before you have to retake your theory.
How much will my practical test cost?
Your practical test will, obviously, cost more. If you take your practical test on a weekday then it will cost you £62.
However, if you want to take it at a weekend or an evening, or even a bank holiday, then it will cost you £75.
Not all places offer weekend and evening tests all of the time, so you might not be able to book it for when you want it. We recommend you go through the government website to book your test as unofficial third party sites can cost more.
If you pass your practical test then your examiner will give you a pass certificate and will take away your provisional licence. You will then be updated with the DVSA and you will receive your full licence within three weeks. In the meantime, your pass certificate will be enough to use as evidence that you passed so you can drive in that time.
If you keep your provisional licence to send off yourself (if you need to change the photo or update the address) then you have two years to exchange it for a full driving licence. If you don’t, then you have to take your test again.
Another thing you’ll want to remember is that you won’t be insured as a qualified driver. Any learner insurance you have on your car will be invalid. So, you need to either update it or cancel it and go through another insurance company if that’s what you want to do.
Oh, and make sure it’s taxed. You can do that online on the Government website.
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about your first steps as a driver. For more information about getting a new car as a student or a young person, then you can read our article here. Again, we do recommend that you use a Government approved instructor and also book your test through the Government website as this will save you money. We also recommend using P plates when you first pass, we know it’s personal preference but we do recommend it.