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How to apply for a UK driving licence from the DVLA

The DVLA – the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority – is a government service which gives out licences to all the drivers you see on the roads today. The process of applying for a driver’s licence depends on what vehicle you’re driving and at what stage of learning you are at.

The DVLA is also in charge of registering number plates to vehicles and is the authority you notify if you want to change your DVLA number plate or personalise your own. Read on for a simple guide to applying for a driver's licence with the DVLA.

Provisional vs full licence

For a regular car driver, there are two licences you can apply for – the provisional licence and the full licence.

The provisional licence is given to anyone who has yet to pass their driving test. This licence allows them to drive with their instructor or someone who has a full licence (this person must be over the age of 21 and have been driving for at least three years), but limits certain activities on the road. For example, you are not allowed to travel on motorways in the UK with a provisional licence.

Provisional licences are distinguishable from full ones because they are light green, whereas the full licence is pink.

You will no longer need your provisional licence once you have passed your driving test and a certified examiner has determined that you are strong enough to drive on your own.

Note: A full driver’s licence can only be obtained once an individual has passed their test and is legally allowed to drive on UK roads. These small pink cards hold important information, including your full name, date of birth, signature, address and ID photo. It will also tell you when your current driver’s licence is set to expire. Full licences generally need to be renewed every 10 years.

How to apply for a driver’s licence

You cannot apply for a full driver’s licence online, this can only be done after you have passed your test. If you have not changed your name and have a photocard provisional licence, the examiner will send off the right documentation and your full licence will be posted to you. If you have changed your name, you will have to fill out a few declaration forms and send them in the post to the DVLA in Swansea. The address for this can be found on the GOV.UK website.

To apply for your provisional licence, you must be at least 15 years and 9 months old and be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away. You can apply on the DVLA’s GOV.UK website and will need to provide your address, an identity document – such as your National Insurance letter – and your National Insurance number. It costs £34.