Help! I’ve Lost My Provisional—What Do I Do?

Pink driving licence cartoon

Nothing quite strikes fear in the heart than realising you’ve lost something very important. If you’re a learner driver, that shiny green card known as the provisional licence is about as important as it gets! So, what do you do if it seems to disappear into thin air?

Before embarking on a level 10 freak out, take a few steps to confirm that is really is lost. Rack your brain for its last whereabouts, turn your room upside down, and consider devising an elaborate interrogation technique to which your flatmates and/or family members can be subjected.

If no one cracks and it still doesn’t appear, it’s probably time to admit defeat. This is not the end, though. It’s just time to accept that there’s going to be some forms to fill out. Tiresome? Yes. Tricky? Thankfully, no!

What’s the situation?

First off, you need to pinpoint exactly what version of ‘lost’ applies to your provisional licence. Are we talking: ‘It was definitely somewhere in my room but now I can’t find it‘, or ‘I had it when I ordered that third double vodka last night‘? The latter scenario means that your provisional may have been stolen.

If this could be the case, you must contact the police to inform them of the situation before doing anything else. Identity theft is no laughing matter—it can turn a simple case of a lost provisional licence to a whole new nightmare, so let the authorities know as quickly as possible.

Once that’s sorted (or you’ve established it’s just lost) you’ll need to apply for a replacement licence.

Apply for a new licence

*The process is different for those of you living in Northern Ireland—NIdirect has specific information on what to do regarding this matter.

If you’re reading this just in case you lose your licence in the future, do yourself a favour: take a picture of your provisional licence now. Should anything happen, at least you’ll have a lot of the important details to hand!

If it’s too late for that, not to worry! This kind of thing happens all the time, which is why there’s a process already in place. To apply for a replacement licence, the DVLA provides 3 options: online, by phone, or by post.

Online

The quickest and most efficient way to replace your lost provisional licence is by applying online. Head over to the DVLA website and fill out a replacement licence form. This process also applies if your licence is damaged or destroyed.

Bear in mind you will need quite a bit of important information to complete the form, starting off with your Government Gateway ID. You should already have one of these if you applied for your original provisional online. As with most things on the internet, it’s not the end of the world if you have forgotten your ID or password. There should be an option for you to reset one or both if you run into trouble.

Once you’re logged in you’ll be required to:

  • Provide your driving licence number, passport number, national insurance number, and the address of every place you’ve lived in the last 3 years (if you know them).
  • Pay the fairly reasonable sum of £20. The DVLA accepts most major credit and debit cards for this payment, namely MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro and Delta.

When you apply online, your new licence should arrive in about a week. If you run into any problems with the online form, contact the DVLA using their email service or phone them (see number below).

By phone

If you’re not great with computers or just prefer talking things through with an actual person, you do have the option to apply for a new licence over the phone. Simply call the DVLA on 0300 790 6801.

Be aware, though, that you can only request a replacement licence over the phone if none of your details have changed from those on your previous licence. You also can’t apply over the phone if you find yourself with a damaged licence, or one that expires in less than 56 days (90 if it’s for medical reasons).

By post

Red post box in front of fence

Finally, if you don’t mind waiting a bit longer for your replacement licence and want to go old school, you can take a trip to your local post office. There you’ll hopefully find a D1Application for a driving licence‘ form. Bring a trusty pen and your personal details and you can get to work! The DVLA also has a special form ordering service—just in case your local post office isn’t fully stocked.

This option isn’t great if you’re in any kind of rush, though; it can take up to 3 weeks to receive your new licence.

Say cheese!

You may be wondering what the DVLA will do about getting another picture of your beautiful mug to sit pride of place on the front of your new licence. Well, once they’ve received your application, they’ll check to see if a suitable electronic photo is already available. Most of the time they can use a copy of your passport photo.

If you don’t have a passport, or there’s some other issue with the photograph, you’ll be sent a form so that you can provide a new photo. Maybe you were hoping that a lost provisional licence was a great opportunity to get a new photo anyway? Well, good news! You can update your licence photo through the photo driving licence renewal service. Every cloud has a silver lining, after all!

Lost provisional licence FAQs

What if my theory/practical test is booked for a day that falls before my replacement licence is due to arrive? Can I still take the test?

Unfortunately, in order to take both the theory and practical test, you need to present your provisional licence. If you show up to either test without it, you will be turned away. Plus, you will lose the money you paid for that test slot.

Be smart—if you know you have a test coming up and your replacement licence may not arrive in time, rearrange the test as soon as possible to avoid being charged.

② Can I continue with my driving lessons while I’m waiting for a replacement provisional to arrive?

It’s up to your instructor. Most driving schools (PassMeFast included) require students to bring their provisional licences to their first driving lesson, at least. If you’re part way through your driving course, you may be allowed to continue with lessons while you wait for your replacement licence to arrive. As noted above, though, you will not be able to sit either of the tests.

③ How will I know if my request for a new licence has been received?

Once your replacement licence application has been sent off, you should receive a confirmation email from the DVLA. If a few days pass and you don’t hear anything, contact the DVLA.

④What should I do if I find my old licence after I’ve already requested a replacement?

You will need to return your old licence to the DVLA, with an explanation of why you are doing so included. Post the letter to: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AB.


As you can see, losing your provisional licence isn’t the end of the world. Nevertheless, once your replacement arrives, be sure to keep it safe!

Now you understand its importance, why not read up on the history of the UK licence? You might appreciate its rich and winding journey to the present day all the more!

For all the latest driving news and tips, keep checking in with the PassMeFast blog!

By Isobel Robb

Isobel enjoys the freedom of the open road and loves driving to new places. She's here to offer helpful hints and tips to improve your motoring skills. When not keeping up to date with the latest driving info you can find her discovering new restaurants or exhausting her Netflix subscription.