The pink licence might be the Holy Grail of driving, but green is for go—and you can’t even get started until you’ve received your first green provisional driving licence. You’ll need it for everything: taking your theory test; booking in with a driving instructor… it’s basically your ticket to freedom!
Thankfully, the application process is both quick and simple—but just in case you fall into any difficulties, we’ve put together a handy guide that tells you exactly how to go about it.
When can I apply for my first provisional driving licence?
Keen to hit the roads as soon as you’re allowed? You don’t need to wait until your 17th birthday to get a provisional licence. In fact, you only have to be 15 years and 9 months of age to apply for your first one.
The same provisional licence covers a number of vehicles. So, if you already have a valid provisional for driving a moped, there’s no need to reapply when you want to get behind the wheel of a car.
Other requirements for applying for a provisional licence
Before you start your provisional licence application, check that you’re able to see a post-2001 number plate on a car from a distance of 20 metres (about 5 parked cars away from you).
Don’t just assume that you’re able to see clearly at this distance—because the very first thing you’ll be asked to do on your driving test is to prove it. You’re also legally obliged to make sure your eyesight is up to scratch at all points during your driving career. The DVLA have recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of this, after they found that over half of all motorists were unaware of the rules.
If you’re at all unsure about your eyesight, make sure you book in with an optician before you apply for your provisional. Check to see whether you’re eligible for a free eye test and vouchers towards glasses or contact lenses if you need them.
You don’t have to be a British citizen to apply for a UK provisional driving licence, but you will need proof that you will be living in the UK for at least 193 days (6 months). You’re also required to provide your addresses for the last 3 years—whether UK based or abroad.
As part of your application, you will have to fill in a medical questionnaire. If you have a condition that needs declaring, you won’t necessarily be ruled out of driving, but you may have to provide more information to prove you’re fit to get behind the wheel. Complete an additional form relevant to your condition and submit it with your application to speed up the process.
How to apply for your provisional licence
You can apply for your provisional licence either online or by post.
If you prefer pen and paper, there are a couple of options. You can either download a D1 form and print it yourself, or request one from your local post office. Check to see which branches near you offer them as part of their services.
When you start your application, there’s a few things you’ll need to hand. You’ll be asked to provide evidence of your identity, your National Insurance number (if known), and your addresses for the last 3 years. For postal applications, send your completed form to: DVLA, Swansea SA99 1AD (or SA99 1AF if your identity documents weren’t issued in the UK).
What supporting identity documents do I need to apply for my provisional licence?
If you’ve got a valid UK biometric passport, you’re in luck: the only thing you’ll need for proving your identity is your 9-digit passport number. Otherwise, there are number of other documents you can choose from—but, whichever you choose, you must send the DVLA the original. So, if you’re going to need your passport to travel within the next month, it’s best that you delay your application until your return.
The most common types of identification are:
- a current and valid passport
- a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
- a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) national identity card
- a travel document
Don’t worry if you don’t have any of the above, or if your name or gender has changed since your identity document was issued. Check the full rules to see what your options are.
① How much is a provisional licence?
The provisional licence costs £34 when you apply online, but £43 if you’re filling in a paper form. The DVLA only accept postal orders or cheques alongside applications by post.
② How long does a provisional driving licence last?
Provisional licences technically last until you’re 70—but your green card will need renewing every 10 years. You’ll have to submit another form with an up-to-date photo when it expires.
③ Can I apply for my child’s provisional licence?
No—all driving licences, including provisionals, must be applied for by the person they refer to. The form includes a declaration that the information provided is fully accurate, and there can be serious consequences if this turns out to be untrue.
④ Can I apply for a provisional licence without a UK passport?
Yes—there are plenty of other ways you can prove your identity. For example, a residency permit, or an EU or EEA national identity card would be sufficient. Or, if you’re a British citizen, you could opt to send your birth certificate alongside your national insurance card. Check back under the Supporting Identity Documents section to see some of the other documents you can use.
⑤ How long does a provisional licence take to be delivered?
If you’ve applied for your provisional licence online, it will usually only take about a week to be approved and sent to you. Allow 3 weeks for delivery from postal applications. If you haven’t heard back after this time, contact the DVLA, who should be able to give you an update.
⑥ Who can sign a provisional driving licence photo?
If you have a valid UK passport, you can opt to allow the DVLA to check your identity with the Passport Office. This eliminates the need to get your photo signed with your application.
Otherwise, you’ll need to get your photo signed by a UK resident with a British driving licence: someone who knows you, but is not related. They must not live at the same address as you, and they must hold, or be retired from, a ‘suitable’ profession. You can see the full list of examples on the gov.uk website.
⑦ What happens if I’ve lost my provisional licence?
You applied for your provisional way back when, and now you’re finally getting around to thinking about driving lessons. But—disaster!—you can’t find the card that says you’re allowed to drive.
Don’t worry—losing your green card isn’t ideal, but there’s no need for panic stations just yet! Check out our blog post dedicated to lost or stolen provisional licences to find out your next steps.
⑧ Will I get my supporting identity documents back?
Yes—but they won’t be returned to you in the same envelope as your provisional licence. In fact, they could take a further 2 weeks after you receive your licence to turn up through your letterbox. If you’re left waiting any longer than this, contact the Royal Mail.
For greater peace of mind, you can always track your documents’ return journey. Simply include a stamped envelope in your application and address it to yourself. You’ll need to make sure it’s Special Delivery or Signed For—and remember to make note of the reference number.
Ready to get on the roads (and fast)?
Getting your provisional is just the beginning! There’s more fun to be had with deciding on a driving course or hourly lessons, swatting up on your theory, and thinking about ways you can dazzle your examiner so that you can turn that green card into pink.
And if you want to take the faster route to driving, you’re in the right place — you can get your licence in just a few weeks with PassMeFast. Our fast-track test system helps to get you in for a test sooner than standard DVSA wait-times, helping you get your licence ASAP. It doesn’t matter if you’re ready to sit your practical test or have never been behind the wheel before, we can help you get your licence fast.
Oh, and if you’re not sure what course you need to pass your test, give our course recommender a spin. Answer a few quick and easy questions and discover which PassMeFast course gives you the best chance of smashing your test!