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Learner Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get my first provisional driving licence?

You can apply for your provisional driving licence by completing the D1 application form (online submission) at the DVLA website or collect a form from Post Office® branches. You will also need to enclose original documentation confirming your identity, a passport style colour photograph and the fee of £50.00. Send your completed application and payment to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AD or you may be able to use the premium checking service.

What do I bring for my first driving lesson?

Both parts of your provisional driving licence. You must have this in your possession before lessons can start. If you need glasses, wear them: you should be able to read a car number plate at a distance of 20.5 metres. Sunglasses are good, especially for winter evenings when the sun is low. Comfortable clothes are better, soft rather than hard shoes.

How many lessons will it take me to learn?

Research referred to by the Driving Standards Agency tells us candidates who take around 46 hours of professional training and back it up with at least 20 hours or more extra practice stand the best chance of passing their test. This doesn't mean you won't do it in less, though it may mean you will need more. Be sure your instructor is teaching you to drive, not just allowing you to learn test routes off by heart. It is your safety and your future: look after it.

Can I take lessons in my own car?

I will not take complete newcomers in their own vehicle - without dual controls I consider it an unnecessary risk; if, later on, you want to transfer to your own vehicle, and it is fully insured for instruction, then there is no reason why not. Fees do not change, though.

How will I know when I'm ready for test?

You will know. Your instructor will help you to become self-critical, and recognise any faults you have. He will also explain the set exercises sufficiently for you to know what is required and show you how to monitor them. Discussion concerning test timing is welcomed, and should be frank on both sides. Your training should include a mock driving test in the latter stages, to confirm your strengths and weaknesses. You should feel secure with your skills. No-one wants to "string you along" but it is important when settling upon going for test to be honest with yourself about your readiness. If you are unprepared the test will show this up, and you may fail.

How do I book a theory test? and How do I book a practical test?

Have a look at the Direct.gov website. You can use this site to book both theory and practical tests. OR: ring 0300 200 1122 with your driving licence details and a current credit card. An operative will guide you through the procedure. If I am providing your lessons then I can book both tests for you, there is no extra charge for this service, You will have to pay the standard test fees though.

Do I have to take my test at the nearest test centre?

No. If you live in Ashford it makes sense to take your test somewhere familiar to you, but you could take it in Chertsey if you wished.

How much does a test cost?

Theory tests are currently charged at £31.00, daytime practical tests £62.00. take your practical test in the evening or at a weekend and it will cost you £75.00.

How long does the driving test last?

Usually about 40 minutes.

What car will I have to drive on my test?

Usually, the car you learned in. You can elect to use your own car, if you prefer although it must be properly insured for test purposes.

When I have passed my test, do I have to pay for my full licence?

Only if your first provisional licence was issued before March 01 2004. In which case you will pay £9.00. However if you obtained your provisional after this date - the exchange is free.

After I have passed my test, do I have to wait for my full licence to come through before I can drive?

No, you can drive yourself out of the test centre, if your car is insured properly. The pass certificate is your qualification. Keep a note of your driver number (that's the number on your provisional licence which begins with the first five letters of your surname) and the number on your pass certificate. The examiner will send your provisional licence away to DVLA, who will send you your full licence in due course. (this can be about three weeks).

© Colin Reed 2008
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