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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 it 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 Online

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)

Visit the DVLA

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. As it’s a fault on your end, you won’t be able to make a claim for your cancelled test.

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.

34 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jonathan Cope

    My card as been snapped in four pieces is that still good enough book a test with if taped up and photo and licence number is still visible

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Jonathan,

      This is the type of thing you would have to ask the DVLA directly (https://tinyurl.com/yyn5fhmz) as they tend to work on a case-by-case basis. I would highly recommend you apply for a replacement, though, as that one won’t be much use in the future!

  2. Reply

    Ludwik Wegrzyn

    Dear Sir or Madam
    I have lost my provisional driving licence.
    Could I have a replacement?

    Your Sincerely
    Ludwik Wegrzyn

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Ludwik,

      I’m afraid we are a driving school and so do not provide such services. In order to get a replacement licence you would need to contact the DVLA, which you can do via this link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-online-to-replace-a-driving-licence

  3. Reply

    Martyn bucknall

    Hi all,

    My daughter has her driving test next Friday 20th of sept and has misplaced her provisional licence ,is there anyway possible to get a replacement by then.
    Many thanks.

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Martyn,

      As noted in the article, it generally takes about a week for a replacement licence to arrive if you apply online – so, in theory, it should arrive just on time. However, given the tight timeframe you’re working with, there is a risk that a replacement may arrive late. The safest option here would probably be to push your daughter’s test date back so as to give enough time for the new licence to arrive.

      Hope this helps!

      Andy

  4. Reply

    Kostantina Pricchard

    If I will give you my lnformations, can u find my faile?

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Kostantina,

      I’m afraid we don’t have access to information like that.

      You would need to contact the DVSA, which you can do here: https://www.gov.uk/contact-dvsa

      Hope that helps!

      Isobel

  5. Reply

    sarah hankins

    I had a provisional licence (an old paper copy) years ago I’ve lost it.im wanting to get a new provisional licence.how do I find out what my licence number was?…do I just need to renew or do I need to apply all over again?….it was nearly 25 years ago that I last had my provisional.

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Sarah,

      As provisional licences expire after 10 years and you don’t have a photocard, I would imagine you would be required to apply for a brand new licence.

      The process is fairly straightforward, so you shouldn’t have any issues.

      You can apply here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence

      If you would like to double-check that this is the correct path to take, you could also ask the DVLA directly, using their web chat service:
      https://live.email-dvla.service.gov.uk/w2c/en_gb/forms/Chat%20Driving%20Licences?_ga=2.144074162.604239639.1584628838-1390725746.1576833151

      Hope that helps!

      Isobel

  6. Reply

    Tom Badcott

    This is a nonsense blog, did not work at all. I have had my provisional license stolen and did everything you instructed on here.

    Despite filling in everything on the link you provided CORRECTLY it stated the following:

    “It has not been possible to match you with your driver record based on the details you have provided. Please check your details on the following pages and change anything that is incorrect. “

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Tom,

      While I appreciate that it can be frustrating when online forms do not work, I can assure you that the information provided in this article is not nonsense. The link I provided takes you directly to the official government website. As a result, any issues you have from this point on are either down to an error in the way you filled out the form, or an error on the part of the DVLA.

      If you are still struggling to apply for a replacement licence, I would suggest using the phone number that is also provided in the article to contact the DVLA directly.

      Good luck.

      Isobel

  7. Reply

    Carolyn Elcome

    Hi I applied for a new provisional but had one about 12 years ago. I think I should have asked to renew it but I’ve already sent the application off. Do you think they will sort it for me ? Thanks carolyn

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Carolyn,

      As it’s been over 10 years, I’m sure it will be fine that you went through the process of applying for a new one, rather than simply renewing.

      Hopefully your new licence will arrive soon and you can get on the road!

      Isobel

  8. Reply

    Ellie

    I have recently lost my provisional driving licence, I have now requested for a new one of these. I didn’t use my passport photo on my last provisional, i just got a new photo taken for my provisional. Will the photo on my last provisional licence be on the new replacement one, or will i have to take a new one? I am 18 in a week & need my ID for identification reasons, so i don’t want to delay the process of getting this.

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Ellie,

      When creating a new licence, the DVLA usually check to see if there is a suitable electronic photograph of you available on their system—this could be the photo from your old licence or your passport photo. Unless there is an issue with either of these, you shouldn’t have to send them a new photo.

      Hope that helps and happy birthday for next week!

      Isobel

  9. Reply

    Sahabi

    Hi,

    If I’ve lost my provisional license and don’t remember the license number, what should I do? Because, I think the license number is required to get it replaced.

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Sahabi,

      You could still try to apply for the licence online by following the link provided in the article. If you run in to problems as a result of not having your licence number to hand, I would suggest calling the DVLA on 0300 790 6801 and explaining the situation over the phone. They might be able to locate your licence number based on other personal information you can provide. Please keep in mind that as a result of the current pandemic phone lines are likely to be very busy.

      Good luck!

      Isobel

  10. Reply

    Afreen

    Is it possible to go for test with paper copy which says you have passed your theory test and also contains your license number

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Afreen,

      I’m afraid not. As explained in the FAQ section, if you show up to your test appointment without your provisional licence, you will be turned away.

      You need to order a replacement licence as soon as possible. If your test appointment is scheduled before you are likely to receive the replacement licence, you need to rearrange the test.

      Hope this helps!

      Isobel

  11. Reply

    Amjad

    I sent my provisional license to speed enforcement unit (conditional unit) for endorsement and i am afraid they will take 2 weeks more to send it back , meanwhile my driving test is on 12 Oct 2020
    I tried to change the date of my exam but unfortunately no dates available until jan 2021
    is there any way i can go for the driving test without the provisional license ?
    what is the best to do in this case?

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Amjad,

      I’m afraid it is highly unlikely that the DVSA would let you take the test without presenting your provisional licence. It might be worth contacting the speed enforcement unit if you have their details and explaining your predicament to them. You could also contact the DVSA (https://www.gov.uk/contact-dvsa) to get confirmation that you would not be allowed to take the test.

      Finally, you have the option of booking a fast-tracked practical test with PassMeFast, which would get you an earlier test date than Jan 2021. To do this you can call 0333 123 4949.

      Hope this helps!

      Isobel

  12. Reply

    Adesh

    I had a provisional driving license and passed my Driving theory test using that in Feb 2020. However, I lost my provisional driving license in Sep 2020 and applied for new driving license. Will I need to take my Driving theory test again as it was issued on my old Provisional Driving License number?

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Adesh,

      No, you should not have to take the theory test again. If there was any issue, you would run into it when attempting to book your practical test. As it is not uncommon for learners to require a replacement provisional licence in the interim between driving tests, however, I do not think you should have any issues.

      Hope this helps,

      Isobel

  13. Reply

    Liam

    I need help passing my theory

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Liam,

      We have a bunch of resources on the blog that can help!

      Check out these articles:

      https://blog.passmefast.co.uk/theory-test/pass-theory-test/

      https://blog.passmefast.co.uk/theory-test/theory-test-revision-resources/

      Hope that helps. Good luck with your test!

      Isobel

  14. Reply

    Dave

    Hi
    OK, so an hour before my theory test i lost my provisional license and was unable to sit my test, my bad. That night the house was ripped apart looking for my license. So I ordered i replacement card but a few hours later the card was found, typical.
    In the morning I was looking for cancelled theory tests and managed to book one in two days time.. But I used the original license to do this.
    Will this still be excepted at the test centre? The only difference is the issue number after the driving number.

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Dave,

      As you were still able to book a test and your driving licence number has not changed, your original licence should be accepted at the test centre.

      Good luck with the test!

      Isobel

  15. Reply

    Emma

    Hi!

    So I’ve lost my provisional licence and don’t own a passport. When I was applying online for a new one, it mentioned that I couldn’t renew it because I don’t own a passport? Therefore I’d have to reapply through post. Is this true or am I reading it wrong?

    Many thanks,
    Emma Hatton

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Emma,

      If you don’t have a passport I’m afraid you will have to apply for another licence by post. The DVLA would normally be able to access your identity details via an online system simply by entering your passport number. Without this they will require another form of identity document to be sent with your application.

      Hope this helps!

      Isobel

  16. Reply

    Lynn

    Hi , my son had his provisional licence taken away from him from the police as he had not changed his address, this was some years ago now and pretty sure it would have needed to be renewed by now. What should we apply for, renew even though he doesn’t have the licence, renew plus revoked or apply for as if it was his first?

    Many thanks Lynn.

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Lynn,

      If his licence was revoked, he will probably have to apply for a brand new licence as if it is his first.

      Then again, if his licence was only taken off him temporarily, and he just never got around to renewing it, you could try the renewal route and see what the system says when he enters his details.

      Hope this helps,

      Isobel

  17. Reply

    Daniyal

    Hey there
    So my situation is quite frustrating for me and tricky to explain. A few years ago, I applied for my provisional licence and started taking lessons. Eventually booked my driving test. On the day, when the examiner asked me to read a number plate, I couldn’t get the number plate which was because 80% of me panicking and 20% due to vision. Now I didn’t get to resit my test. After that they took my provisional license back and I am apparently ineligible to apply again.
    I’ve been attending appointments for my eyesight and was given all clear. I want to reapply for my provisional but there isn’t any help on the dvla website. Will be glad if you were able to give some pointers on how to proceed.
    Thanks in advance

    1. Reply

      Isobel Robb

      Hi Daniyal,

      Sorry to hear about the issues you’ve had with your provisional licence.

      Unless you are legally blind, the DVLA shouldn’t prevent you from applying for a provisional licence ever again. However, when you have your licence revoked due to failing the eyesight test, the all clear from your optician isn’t sufficient evidence for the DVLA to grant you a new provisional licence. You will be asked to take an eyesight test with the DVSA, which would normally take place at a driving test centre. If you have been told that it is currently not possible for you to get a provisional licence, it may just be that current lockdown laws are preventing this step from happening. ​

      Start by checking the status of your driving record, which you can do via this link: https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence

      If you continue to run into problems with the provisional licence application, contact the DVLA by phone on 0300 790 6801 and explain your situation. You could also use their webchat feature, which you can access here: https://contact.dvla.gov.uk/driving-licence

      Hope this helps!

      Isobel

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