Coronavirus (COVID-19): Driving Tests for Key Workers

The information provided in this article related to the first UK lockdown. The booking system for emergency tests closed on August 14th. It is no longer possible to apply. As a result of DVSA guidance, PassMeFast is not currently able to offer emergency lessons or tests to key workers.

With the government advising most of the population to practise social distancing, the DVSA have taken the decision to suspend theory and practical tests. However, an exception exists to this rule. If you are a key worker, you may be eligible to take an emergency test. In this article, we will explain who may qualify, and how to book these tests.

Who counts as a key worker?

The government has identified those whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or who work in critical sectors for the economy, as key workers. We have listed these sectors below, together with examples of jobs identified as critical.

  • Health and social care
    Key workers include: doctors, nurses and other frontline staff (including volunteers); support and specialist staff; those working in the health and social care supply chain
  • Education and childcare
    Key workers include: childcare, support and teaching staff; specialist educational professionals
  • Key public services
    Key workers include: essential workers in the justice system; religious staff; charities and workers delivering frontline services; journalists and public service broadcasters
  • Local and national government
    Key workers include: administrative occupations essential to the COVID-19 response; those delivering essential public services
  • Food and other necessary goods
    Key workers include: those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery; those essential to the provision of other key goods
  • Public safety and national security
    Key workers include: police and support staff; MoD civilians, contractors and armed forces personnel; fire and rescue service employees
  • Transport
    Key workers include: workers in air, water, road and rail passenger transport; workers in freight transport
  • Utilities, communication and financial services
    Key workers include: staff needed for essential financial services; workers in the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors; IT and data infrastructure

For full details on who counts as a key worker, visit GOV.UK.

Are all key workers eligible for emergency tests?

At present, the DVSA is prioritising applications from NHS staff and social care workers for emergency theory and practical tests. Only once all of these workers have been given tests will the DVSA begin offering appointments to those in other sectors.

Initially, the DVSA declined applications from those working in other critical sectors of the economy. Now, however, as part of their shift from an email-based system to an online form, all key workers are invited to reapply. Be aware, however, that you will be placed on a waiting list until NHS and social care workers have been given tests.

What are the rules regarding driving tests for key workers?

Key workers may be eligible to take theory or driving tests, even when they are suspended for the general public. These are known as emergency tests.

Emergency tests are not available to everyone. The DVSA must class you as a key worker in order for you to qualify for one of these tests. Please note that, as stated above, NHS and social care workers have priority when it comes to test appointments.

How to apply

To apply for an emergency test, you’ll need to have the following details to hand:

  • your driving licence number
  • a scanned copy or photo of either:
    • your work ID badge
    • an email to your work address from your employer, confirming you work for them
    • a letter (on headed paper) from your employer, confirming you work for them

You’ll then need to complete an online form to apply for your test, with separate forms to apply for an emergency driving test and to apply for an emergency theory test. Be prepared to provide information including:

  • your occupation
  • the reason why you need to pass your test
  • your phone number
  • your preferred test centre
  • the type of test you would like to take (e.g., a car driving test)
  • the reference number for your existing driving test, if you have one
  • your theory test certificate number, if applying for a driving test

You must complete the online form in order to request an emergency test, even if you already submitted an email application. Those who originally applied via email will have priority over new applications.

If the DVSA deem you eligible for a test, they will send an appointment to you via email at the nearest available test centre. Please note that you must be willing to take your test at short notice, as the number of appointments available is very limited. Additionally, only a handful of theory test centres are operating at present: Birmingham, Glasgow and Mile End (London).

What measures are being taken to ensure that emergency tests are safe?

The DVSA have put in place a number of procedures to minimise the spread of coronavirus. This includes:

  • Ensuring that examiners wear clothing that fully covers their arms and legs
  • Requiring examiners to wash their hands before entering the public waiting area, wear gloves for the duration of the test, and avoid touching their face
  • Banning examiners from shaking the candidate’s hand
  • Preventing candidates from touching the examiner’s iPad, stylus, or any paperwork used
  • Checking the candidate’s signature and driving licence without the examiner physically handling it
  • Not allowing any accompanying driver or ADI to sit in on the test, or to listen to the debrief at the end
  • Stopping tests from going ahead if a candidate is unwell, or terminating the test partway through if the candidate becomes unwell during the drive
  • Keeping vehicles well ventilated, including by asking the candidate to open their window
  • Building in extra time for each test to ensure that examiners are able to carry out all the additional precautions
  • Putting in place specific measures for the disposal of any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gloves and wipes

The driving test itself will be carried out as normal, including general and independent driving sections, reversing manoeuvres, “show me, tell me” questions and an eyesight check. However, tests will end early if a candidate fails.

Does PassMeFast offer courses and tests for key workers?

PassMeFast will continue to offer driving courses for eligible key workers, and can help to arrange emergency theory and practical tests for you.

If you’re interested in booking any of our driving courses, simply get in touch with us by phone on 0333 123 4949. A member of our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and help you choose the best option for you.

By Andy Boardman

Andy has been part of the PassMeFast Blog team from the very beginning. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on the way to his next destination.


  1. Reply

    Nastaran Mirzaei


    Hope you are well.
    I’m working in a pharmacy company and I need to commute. My international driving licence was expired so how can I give an emergency driving test appointment?

    Many thanks in advance

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Nastaran,

      The information provided in this article related to the first UK lockdown. Unfortunately, despite the reintroduction of lockdown measures, the DVSA has not yet announced any plans to allow emergency tests or lessons to go ahead again. Should this change, we would be happy to help.


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