When you pass your practical test, your licence is yours to keep. The theory test, however, is a little different. Once you pass, you start a two-year period in which you’re eligible to take a practical. If you don’t pass within this timeframe, you’ll need to retake your theory.
All of this can be stressful enough at the best of times. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has meant some learners have seen their practical test postponed with just weeks left until their theory test expires. In this article, we’ll take a look at the options available to you, and provide the latest advice straight from the DVSA.
Will the DVSA extend theory test expiry dates?
If you’ve paid close attention to the latest driving news, you may have noticed that the DVSA has decided to extend MOTs by six months. You may be wondering, then, if the same rule will apply to theory test pass certificates.
Unfortunately, the answer here is no. The DVSA has already announced that they will not extend the validity of a theory test pass. This means that some learners are likely to see their certificate expire while practical tests are suspended—a period which may last for up to three months.
In an official guidance article, the DVSA stated that:
Legally, your theory test certificate cannot be extended in any circumstances.
You’ll need to book and pay to take another theory test.
You need to pass this before you can book your driving test.
This news will surely come as a disappointment for those who were due to take their test in the coming weeks. Sadly, it also means that, even if you already had a test booked, this could end up being postponed until after your expiry date. In such cases, you won’t be able to take your practical. The DVSA will instead have to cancel your test and provide a refund.
What about key workers?
At the moment, most learners won’t be able to take either the theory or practical test. However, the DVSA is making emergency tests available for key workers. This means that, if you work in certain critical sectors of the economy, you can still get your licence. So, how will this affect those whose theory test is close to its expiry date?
The first thing to note here is that, if you already have a test booking, the DVSA may cancel this. So, when you apply for an emergency test, the appointment is likely to be different to your existing booking. This is due to limited examiner availability at present.
Secondly, those who apply for an emergency test won’t be able to select an appointment. That’s because the usual online booking system is not currently in operation. Instead, you need to email the DVSA. They’ll then get back to you with a date.
All of this means that, even if you’re a key worker, the DVSA can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to pass before your theory test certificate expires—especially if this date is in the next few weeks. However, it is possible that you’ll be able to secure a practical in time.
What happens if I need to retake the theory test?
In case it becomes necessary for you to book a new theory test, you’ll be able to do so online. All you need to do is visit the DVSA’s online booking system. Please note that while you can book a theory online, you can’t currently book or change a practical online.
At the time of writing, theory tests are set to restart on Monday, 1st June. As such, you can book an appointment at any point after this date. However, the DVSA reserves the right to push this date back should the government extend social distancing restrictions.
If you do find yourself having to retake your test, be aware that the format will be slightly different. That’s because, since late 2018, the hazard perception section has included weather-related CGI clips.
Much of the test, however, remains the same. You’ll have to answer multiple choice questions in the first half of the test, before moving onto hazard perception. And, of course, you’ll still need to show plenty of knowledge of the Highway Code.
Though having to retake your test may not be ideal, we’re here to help with some useful guides. Check out our theory test revision resources, or our article covering what to do if your theory test is about to expire.
I haven’t yet received an official cancellation email from the DVSA. Does this mean my practical test is going ahead?
At the moment, there is no fixed date for the resumption of practical testing. The DVSA have announced only that tests will be postponed for up to three months. This may mean that tests restart in late June.
Due to the fluid situation, the DVSA will only inform you of the postponement of your test if it is due to take place in the next two weeks. They’ll then inform you of a new test, which will typically be three months after your original date. Do not assume your test will definitely go ahead.
Note that while the DVSA are postponing practical tests, they are cancelling theory tests. This means that you will receive a refund of your test fee, and will need to rebook your test online.
I’m a key worker and need to take an emergency theory test. What do I have to do?
The DVSA have set up a specific email to contact if you need to book an emergency theory test:
If you apply for an emergency theory test, you will need to provide proof of your key worker status, such as an ID badge. You’ll also need to provide personal details, including your driving licence number and phone number.
Please note that emergency theory tests are currently only available at the following test centres:
- Mile End (London)
For full details, visit GOV.UK.
I’m a key worker and need to take an emergency practical test. What do I have to do?
If you require an emergency practical test, you can contact the DVSA using the following email:
You’ll need to send over evidence that you work in a critical sector, as well as providing some personal details. The full list of information you may need to provide is available at GOV.UK. Practical tests are available more widely than theory tests, but please note that not all test centres may be open.
PassMeFast can help to arrange lessons and tests for key workers. If you are interested in learning with us, visit our driving courses rundown for a full list of everything we have to offer. You can also call our team on 0333 123 4949.
I don’t work in a key sector, but I’m worried about my test expiring. What can I do?
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take a practical test in the coming weeks. As such, once your theory test certificate expires, you’ll need to book and pass a new theory test. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll need to wait around to get your licence.
If you book onto a PassMeFast driving course, we can help you to get in ahead of the rush. Once the current restrictions end, we’ll restart our fast-tracking service, and will help to secure you an earlier practical test date. This could speed up your journey by months!
To get started, chat to a member of our team on 0333 123 4949. They’ll help you to discover your perfect course, and will start arranging for your lessons to take place as soon as possible.