It’s now fairly common knowledge that, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the DVSA has cancelled most driving tests. Theory and practical test centres across the country have closed their doors to the vast majority of learner drivers. We say ‘vast majority’, and not all, because a small number of learner drivers are earning their licences under lockdown.
The coronavirus pandemic has deepened our appreciation for the incredible people who work to keep our citizens healthy and our society running. That’s why the DVSA is still providing emergency tests for key workers. A driving licence opens up a whole new world of freedom and convenience, and these are the people for whom it will make the biggest difference right now!
The folks at the DVSA are currently extremely busy, so there is still an element of confusion surrounding emergency tests. Always eager to provide a helping hand, PassMeFast is going to draw from our personal experience of securing emergency test appointments to give you some insight into how it all works. Read on to get an idea of how long you can expect to wait for an emergency test (and more!)…
Driving tests under lockdown
Who qualifies for an emergency test?
As we’ve explained, emergency tests are available only to those deemed to be essential workers. These key people are defined by the DVSA as those whose “work is critical to the coronavirus response”. This covers sectors like health and social care, education and childcare, key public services, government, food, transport, public safety and national security.
Think you tick the box? Head over to the online application to log your request. You’ll need to provide proof of your key worker status and have some important information about yourself at the ready. For a full rundown of how the process works, check out our post on driving tests for key workers.
How long will it take to get an emergency test?
As you might expect, the DVSA is inundated with requests at the moment, so you will need to exercise some patience once your form has been sent off. Wait times for driving tests are fairly lengthy at the best of times, so we can’t expect the agency to wave a magic wand now! That being said, the DVSA are working hard to get our key workers out on the road as soon as possible.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that NHS staff and social care workers are marked as high priority. So, if you’re an essential worker but not in this group, it may take a little longer for you to hear back about a test.
Geography may also play a factor in how long it takes for you to secure an emergency test appointment. When it comes to the theory test, for example, only a limited number of test centres are actually in operation at the moment. And by limited, we mean limited—we’re talking Birmingham, Glasgow and Mile End (London). And that’s all, folks!
What we know so far
Let’s start this section with a disclaimer: the process of getting an emergency test has been slightly different for everyone. There are far too many factors at play to be able to provide a solid estimate of wait times for an emergency test. Before you run off in a huff, though, we can offer up a couple of real life examples based on key workers who took PassMeFast courses.
Those who are able to get the swiftest responses from the DVSA tend to be front line doctors and nurses. In these cases, it took around 2-3 weeks for an emergency test date to be provided. Other NHS staff saw a similar wait time of 2-4 weeks. It’s important to note, though, that this was during the early stages of lockdown, when demand for emergency tests was just beginning to rise.
Key workers who don’t fall under the NHS or social care worker umbrella can expect a lengthier wait, depending on demand in their area.
Keep in mind
If you do apply for an emergency test, you need to be prepared to take it fairly soon. Even if it takes, say, 3 weeks to hear back from the DVSA, the test appointment could be scheduled for the following week. As these slots are highly coveted, turning it down may result in an even longer wait for a new option. Our advice is to make sure you’re prepared and grab anything offered to you with both hands!
The DVSA is so busy that if you don’t qualify for an emergency test, you won’t necessarily receive notice of this. Being kept in the dark like this can be frustrating. If you organise your test through PassMeFast, you can at least get your Booking Agent to chase this up for you. Plus, now that we’ve got a few emergency tests in the bag, we have a clearer idea of what to expect.
Hearing that you might have to wait a good few weeks for an emergency test may be a little disheartening. Nevertheless, we urge you to seriously consider putting an application in if you have aspirations of earning a licence. Remember: there is likely to be a big rush for tests once the lockdown restrictions are lifted. It therefore makes sense to get your name down early if you have the opportunity to do so.
PassMeFast’s emergency test champions
We’ve already been able to secure emergency tests for some essential workers. The proof really is in the pudding—check out a couple of their pass stories below!
Amy from Hampshire is a nurse, so we just had to confirm her status as an essential worker and a couple of weeks later the DVSA sent over an emergency test appointment. We organised some last-minute lessons and Amy went on to pass with flying colours!
Great job, Amy!
Ayesha from Cheshire began an intensive course with our instructor Noel just before the DVSA closed most of their test centres. Thankfully, her vital role as a hospital worker meant that she was soon offered an emergency test—which she passed FIRST time!
Emergency driving tests
If you’re a key worker waiting for an emergency test, we urge you to hang on in there and keep those fingers crossed! PassMeFast knows from first-hand experience that essential workers are currently taking (and passing!) driving tests.
Looking to book and take an emergency test? An appointment alone is usually not enough to ensure that you pass the finish line clutching a new licence. Even if you’re test ready, it’s a good idea to take at least some driving lessons before you head into the test itself.
…and that’s where PassMeFast comes in! We have ADIs all over the country who are able to provide safe and efficient driving courses for key workers. For more information, or to get your driving journey started, give the team a call on 0333 123 4949.
Good luck and happy driving!
News surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on driving tests is still developing. For the latest updates and need-to-know information, keep an eye on our dedicated coronavirus post.