|British driving licence|
|Issued by||United Kingdom|
£34/£43 (online/postal) (GB), £62.50 (Northern Ireland)
In the United Kingdom, a driving licence is the official document which authorises its holder to operate motor vehicles on highways and other public roads. It is administered in England, Scotland and Wales by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and in Northern Ireland by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA). A driving licence is required in England, Scotland, and Wales for any person (except the sovereign) driving a vehicle on any highway or other "road", as defined in s.192 Road Traffic Act 1988,irrespective of the ownership of the land over which the road passes. Similar requirements apply in Northern Ireland under the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.
Prior to the UK leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020 and during the transition period which ended on 31 December 2020, a UK driving licence was a European driving licence,adhering to Directive 2006/126/EC and valid throughout the European Economic Area. A new updated design has been issued from January 2021, now simply reading “UK” in larger blue letters, where the EU flag with the circle of stars surrounding the "UK" code used to be.
Since July 2015, all UK driving licence photocards issued by the DVLA have displayed the Union Jack flag, and since December 2021also the Royal Coat of Arms on the front of the driving licence. This does not apply to driving licences issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland.
As UK nationals do not normally have identity cards, a photographic driving licence can serve many of the purposes of an identity card in non-driving contexts, such as proof of identity (e.g. when opening a bank account) or of age (e.g. when buying age-restricted goods such as alcohol or tobacco).
Applications for a provisional driving licence can be made in Great Britain from the age of 15 years and 9 months and in Northern Ireland from 16 years and 10 months. Once a United Kingdom driving test has been passed, the driving licence is valid for driving a moped or light quad bike from age 16, and a car from age 17, or 16 for those who receive, or have applied for, the higher or enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP or DLA.A driving test consists of three sections: theory, hazard perception and a driving examination. Until this test has been passed, a driver may hold only a provisional licence and is subject to certain conditions.
The conditions attached to provisional licences for a particular category of vehicle are:
In Northern Ireland, learner drivers are limited to a speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) and are not permitted on motorways regardless of whether or not they are under instruction by an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor), and drivers who have passed their test within the previous year must display R plates (restricted) and are also limited to a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) until the expiry of the restricted period. R plates are similar in style to L plates, with a thick-set dark orange R displayed on a white background and most L plates have the orange R on the reverse side.
After passing a driving test, the provisional licence may be surrendered within two years in exchange for a full UK licencefor the relevant kind of vehicle. Full car licences allow use of mopeds and motorcycles provided a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course is completed (the requirement to have a CBT in Northern Ireland was introduced on 21 February 2011).
There are currently no restrictions on newly qualified drivers in England, Wales or Scotland; however if a newly qualified driver receives six penalty points within two years of passing, the licence is automatically revoked and the driver must pass the full test again; this also applies in Northern Ireland.These six points remain on the new licence until their designated expiry time.
In Northern Ireland, new drivers must display orange "R" plates for 1 year after passing the test, and are limited to a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km/h).
In the Isle of Man (a UK Crown dependency), new drivers must display "R" plates similar to those in Northern Ireland, but red, for 1 year after passing the test, and are limited to a maximum speed of 50 mph (80 km/h).
The rules on what a driver can tow are different depending on when they passed their driving test. If they passed their car driving test on or after 1 January 1997, they may drive a car or van up to 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750 kg (1,650 lb)MAM, and they may tow a trailer over 750 kg (1,650 lb)MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500 kg (7,700 lb)MAM when loaded. They must pass the car and trailer driving test to tow anything heavier. If a driver passed their car test before 1 January 1997, they are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg (18,190 lb)MAM. They are also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750 kg (1,650 lb)MAM.
On 16 September 2021, the Secretary of State for Transport laid a statutory instrument 3,500 kg (7,700 lb). An additional legislative change from the 16th December 2021 also means that drivers with B (Car) entitlement will automatically have B+E (Car & Trailer) entitlement without the need to take a B+E test. This will allow you to tow a vehicle up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).to retrospectively grant the B+E (car and trailer) entitlement to all category B licence holders. From 15 November 2021, all standard car licence holders will be able to tow a trailer with a MAM of up to
Motor car licences issued in the United Kingdom distinguish between automatic and manual transmission vehicles, depending on whether or not a driving test was passed in a vehicle with manual transmission (unless a vehicle test was taken in the UK before such distinction was made). While a manual transmission vehicle licence permits the holder to drive a vehicle of either kind, an automatic transmission vehicle licence is solely for vehicles with automatic transmission. The licence also shows whether a driver requires glasses or contact lenses to meet the legal driving requirements, if known.
Drivers who obtained rights to drive category D1 minibuses before 1997 (by passing a test for the obsolete class A) must not drive such vehicles for hire or reward, nor accept any form of payment in money, goods or kind from any passengers carried.
There is no maximum age for driving or holding a driving licence, but holders must renew their licences at age 70 and every three years thereafter, at which times they must self-certify their continued fitness to drive.
Driver registration was introduced in 1903 with the Motor Car Act. Holders of the sulphur-yellow coloured document were entitled to "drive a motor car or motor cycle".The wording was changed in 1930 after which holders were allowed to "drive or steer a motor car or to drive a motor cycle". Shortly afterwards, the document cover was changed to a dark red colour. Holders were for a period entitled to drive a vehicle of "any class or description". Subsequent changes saw the document list precisely those vehicle types for which holders were licensed.
Competency tests were introduced by the Motor Vehicles Regulations 1935 applicable to all drivers who started driving after 1 April 1934. Competency tests were suspended in 1939 for seven years due to the Second World War and in 1956 for one year due to the Suez Crisis. The only person in the United Kingdom who is not required to have a driving licence in order to drive is the King.
Until 1973, driving licences (and tax discs) were issued by local authorities and had to be renewed every three years. In 1971, the decision was taken to computerise the licensing system to enable it to be linked to the Police National Computer and to extend the life of the licence up to the driver's 70th birthday, extendable at intervals thereafter provided the driver can prove fitness.
Except for Northern Ireland, driving licences issued before July 1998 did not have photographs on them.Anyone who holds a licence issued before this date may retain their photo-less licence until expiry (normally one's seventieth birthday) or until they change address, whichever comes sooner. The new plastic photocard driving licences have to be renewed every ten years, for a fee. Until 2015, the licence consisted of both the photocard and a paper counterpart which detailed the individual's driving entitlements and convictions ("endorsements"). The counterpart was abolished on 8 June 2015 and the information formerly recorded on it is now available online via the View Driving Licence service, except in Northern Ireland where the counterpart must be kept with the photocard.
Licences issued to residents of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland appear only in English, while those issued to residents of Wales appear in both English and Welsh. The Union Jack Flag has been included on GB licences since July 2015, but not on Northern Ireland licences.Since December 2021 the Royal Coat of Arms is included on GB licences.
Up until 28 September 2021, the distinguishing sign of the United Kingdom was "GB".The allocation of codes is maintained by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, authorised by the UN's Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. The UK is party to both conventions, and shall hence issue licences in conformity with the conventions. Annex 9 of the Geneva convention states that the distinguishing sign (UK) shall be inscribed in an oval. According to the Vienna convention Article 43 domestic licences have to comply with Annex 6, which says that driving licences shall include the name and/or the distinguishing sign of the country which issued the permit. UK licences did include the "GB" distinguishing code until 1990.
In Directive 91/439/EEC which EU Member States had to implement before 1 July 1994, the UK had to include the emblem of the EU with the code "UK",instead of "GB" encircled by an ellipse on the front page. As the UK has subsequently withdrawn from the EU, the EU flag is no longer featured on UK driving licences issued after the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. The "GB" code or the ellipse from the aforementioned conventions have not been reintroduced, since January 2021, the licences simply reads “UK" in larger blue letters where the EU flag with the circle of stars surrounding the "UK" code used to be.
On 30 June 2021 the United Nations published a notification stating that the United Kingdom had given three months notification that it intended to change its distinguishing sign from "GB" to "UK". This came into effect on 28 September 2021.
Since December 2021, new driving licence styles were introduced. Changes were made to all versions of the GB driving licence cards and includes:
Each licence holder in England, Scotland and Wales has a unique driver number, which is 16 characters long. The characters are constructed in the following way:
This section is missing information about licences which have an issue number larger than the number of previous issues.(January 2022)
Each Northern Ireland licence holder has a unique driver number which is 8 characters long. The characters are not constructed in any particular pattern.
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, starting an 11-month transition period which terminated on 31 December 2020 in accordance with the Brexit withdrawal agreement.EU law continued to apply to the UK during the transition period, and hence UK driving licences were valid in the EEA and vice versa until 31 December 2020. UK licence holders living in the EU were advised to exchange their UK driving licence for a local one before the transition period ended. The EU flag was removed from UK driving licences when the transition period ended.
From 1 January 2021, with some exceptions, UK licence holders can use their driving licence when visiting EEA countries.International Driving Permits might be needed in some cases, and depending on which convention the country in question has ratified, a 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic IDP might be required in some countries, and a 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic IDP in others. However, none of the EEA countries currently require IDPs for visitors staying shorter than 12 months. EEA countries are no longer obligated to recognise or exchange UK licences if the holder moves to an EEA country, except if the UK has agreed a bilateral agreement with the country.
European driving licences are recognised by the UK if the driving test was passed in an EU/EEA country, and can be used both if the holder is visiting or residing in the country. They can also be exchanged for a UK (both GB and NI) licence.
This is a list of the categories that might be found on a driving licence in the United Kingdom.
|Category||Vehicle type||Minimum age||Notes|
|AM||Mopeds||16||2-wheeled or 3-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 15.5 mph (25 km/h) but not more than 28 mph (45 km/h). |
This category also includes light quadricycles with an unladen mass of not more than 350 kg (not including batteries if it is an electric vehicle) and a maximum design speed of over 15.5 mph (25 km/h) but not more than 28 mph (45 km/h).
Electrically propelled pedal cycles (with 2 or 3 wheels) are exempt from the requirement for a licence provided they conform to the EPAC rules, although there is a minimum age of 14. Such vehicles must be equipped with pedals by means of which the vehicle is capable of being propelled. If there are no pedals, then a moped licence is required. Electrically assisted scooters are considered to be electrically assisted only if they conform to certain additional EPAC rules, otherwise a licence is required.
|P||Mopeds||16||Motor vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels with a maximum design speed of over 28 mph (45 km/h) but not more than 31 mph (50 km/h). The vehicle's engine size must not be more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine.|
|Q||Mopeds||16||Motor vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels which, if propelled by an internal combustion engine, have a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cc and, if not equipped with pedals by means of which the vehicle is capable of being propelled, have a maximum design speed not exceeding 15.5 mph (25 km/h).|
|A1||Motorcycles||17||Light motorbicycles with an engine size up to 125 cc, a power output of up to 11 kW (14.75 hp), and a power to weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW/kg (136.2 hp/ton). This category also includes motor tricycles with power output up to 15 kW (20.1 hp). |
A practical training without exam is needed for B licence holders (Compulsory Basic Training).
|A2||Motorcycles||19||Motorbicycles in category A1, as well as motorbicycles with a power output up to 35 kW (46.9 hp) and power to weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW/kg (272.5 hp/ton). The motorcycle must also not be derived from a vehicle of more than double its power.|
|A||Motorcycles||24||Motorcycles in categories A1 and A2, as well as motorcycles with a power output more than 35 kW (46.9 hp) or a power to weight ratio more than 0.2 kW/kg (272.5 hp/ton) and motor tricycles with a power output more than 15 kW (20.1 hp).|
B licence holders who are at least 21 years of age are allowed to drive motor tricycles, including three-wheeled motorcycles with a power exceeding 15 kilowatts (20 hp).
|B1||Light vehicles and quadricycles||17||Motor vehicles with 4 wheels up to 400 kg unladen, or 550 kg if they are designed for carrying goods.|
|B||Cars||17||Full licence obtained before 1 January 1997: |
Full licence obtained after 31 December 1996:
|B auto||Cars||17||Same as Category B, but only automatic transmission.|
|BE||Cars||17||A vehicle with a MAM of 3,500 kg with a trailer. The size of the trailer depends on the BE 'valid from' date shown on the licence. If the date is before 19 January 2013, the vehicle can tow any size trailer. If the date is on or after 19 January 2013, the vehicle can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500 kg.|
|C1||Medium-sized vehicles||18||Vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500 kg MAM (with a trailer up to 750 kg).|
|C1E||Medium-sized vehicles||21||C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg. The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000 kg.|
|C||Large vehicles||18||Vehicles over 7,500 kg (with a trailer up to 750 kg MAM).|
|CE||Large vehicles||18||Category C vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg.|
|D1||Minibuses||21||Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats, a maximum length of 8 metres, and a trailer up to 750 kg. See also Category B.|
|D1E||Minibuses||18||D1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg MAM. The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000 kg.|
|D||Buses||18||Any bus with more than 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750 kg MAM).|
|DE||Buses||18||D category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg.|
|F||Agricultural tractor||16||Maximum weight with trailer = 24 390 kg. Age 16 for tractors less than 2.45m wide. It must only pull trailers less than 2.45 m (96 in) wide with two wheels, or four close-coupled.|
|K||Mowing machine or pedestrian-controlled vehicle||16|
|L||Electrically-propelled vehicle||17||Category now deprecated – tests no longer available (since 2001) for this category. Vehicles now classified by the appropriate group above.|
|N||Exempt from duty||Normally as per group if not exempt||Category now deprecated (since 2001). This category was reserved for vehicles driven for a government department. Neither the issue of the licence nor the testing were carried out by the normal licensing authorities. Each department issued the licence to drive (which was similar in appearance to the pre-1973 dark red licence except that it was light blue in colour). This separate licence was proof that the driver had the proper permission to drive an official vehicle (which was neither insured nor taxed). A prerequisite to passing a driving test (and being granted the licence) for this category was that the driver held a normal full licence appropriate for the type of vehicle being driven (military use excepted). The minimum ages for driving were the same as for the normal licence, except that two types of vehicle (motor-cycles and cars displaying military number plates) could be driven at 16 years of age by a serving member (not a civilian employee) on behalf of one of the armed services. |
The category was abandoned because all government departments now hire or lease their vehicles from regular suppliers. The armed services also lease standard civilian-supplied vehicles, with only specialist military vehicles being 'owned' by the Crown.
Although the category system was changed over 25 years ago (1 January 1997), the freight industry and driver recruitment agencies still predominantly use the obsolete class numbers for the entitlement of HGV drivers.
The two systems are not exactly compatible, so the descriptions given are only a guideline.
The UK uses a cumulative points system for driving offences. Points are added for driving offences by law courts or where the driver accepts a fixed penalty in lieu of prosecution, and the licence is endorsed accordingly. A UK driving licence may be endorsed for various offences, not only for those committed while driving or in charge of a vehicle.If the individual committing the offence does not hold a valid driver's licence the endorsements may be put by until a licence is held.
Most endorsements remain valid for four years; some (such as driving under the influence) are recorded on the licence for 11 years because more severe penalties apply to those convicted twice within 10 years of drink or drug driving offences.
Twelve points on the licence within three years makes the driver liable to disqualification under the "totting-up" procedure; however this is not automatic and must be decided on by a court of law.Endorsements remain on the licence for one year longer than their validity (three or ten years) because a court can consider points awarded even though they are not valid for 'totting up'.
Certain codes are included on driving licences to indicate restrictions on use. These codes are listed on the back of the card under the column headed "12. Codes" and are listed for each category that is licensed.
As long as the UK remained within the EU, the codes 1–99 were the same as in the rest of the EU, harmonized by Directive 2006/126/EC.
The codes and their meanings are as follows:
Identity cards for UK nationals were introduced in 2009 on a voluntary basis, and the attempt to introduce a nationwide identity-card scheme in 2010 was reversed mid-course. Its in-progress database was halted and then destroyed.Only workers in certain high-security professions, such as airport workers, were required to have an identity card in 2009, and this remains the case today. Therefore, driving licences, particularly the photocard driving licence introduced in 1998, along with passports, are the most widely used ID documents in the United Kingdom. Most people do not carry their passports with them; this leaves driving licences as the only valid form of ID to be presented. In day-to-day life there is no legal requirement to carry identification whilst driving or otherwise, and most authorities do not arbitrarily ask for identification from individuals.
Non-professional drivers are not legally obliged to carry a driving licence while driving, but section 164 of the Road Traffic Act 1998allows a police officer to require a driver to produce a driving licence within seven days at a police station chosen by the driver. The form which was once issued in such circumstances, the HO/RT 1, was known colloquially as "a producer", as exemplified in Smiley Culture's hit single "Police Officer".
The UK has an exchange agreement with 22 'designated' countries/regionswhich allows the holder of a foreign driving licence who is deemed to be resident in the UK to exchange it for a British licence. Initially, there were 18 such countries/regions, but an additional four, namely Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and the Republic of North Macedonia, were added from 20 May 2021. To do such licence exchange, the holder must send the licence, a translation thereof if required, an application form and a fee to the DVLA or DVA (for Northern Ireland).
The UK and Ireland have signed a bilateral agreement, allowing those holding a UK driving licence and living in Ireland to continue to be able to swap it for an Irish licence after the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020.
The UK and Norway have agreed to continue existing arrangements on mutual recognition of driving licences after Brexit.
An L-plate is a square plate bearing a sans-serif letter L, for learner, which must be affixed to the front and/or back of a vehicle in many countries if its driver is a learner under instruction, or a motorcycle rider with provisional entitlement to ride restricted motorcycles.
A large goods vehicle (LGV), or heavy goods vehicle (HGV), in the European Union (EU) is any lorry with a gross combination mass (GCM) of over 3,500 kg (7,716 lb). Sub-category N2 is used for vehicles between 3,500 kg and 12,000 kg (26,455 lb) and N3 for all goods vehicles over 12,000 kg as defined in Directive 2001/116/EC. The term medium goods vehicle is used within parts of the UK government to refer to goods vehicles of between 3,500 and 7,500 kg which according to the EU are also "large goods vehicles."
A commercial driver's license (CDL) is a driver's license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles in commerce, including trucks, buses, and trailers.
Graduated driver licensing systems (GDLS) are designed to provide new drivers of motor vehicles with driving experience and skills gradually over time in low-risk environments. There are typically three steps or stages through which new drivers pass. They begin by acquiring a learner's permit, progress to a restricted, probationary or provisional license, followed by receipt of a full driver's license. Graduated drivers' licensing generally restricts nighttime, expressway, and unsupervised driving during initial stages, but lifts these restrictions with time and further testing of the individual, eventually concluding with the individual attaining a full driver's license.
A driver's permit, learner's permit, learner's license or provisional license is a restricted license that is given to a person who is learning to drive, but has not yet satisfied the prerequisite to obtain a driver's license. Having a learner's permit for a certain length of time is usually one of the requirements for applying for a full driver's license. To get a learner's permit, one must typically pass a written permit test, take a basic competency test in the vehicle, or both.
The European driving licence is a driving licence issued by the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA); all 27 EU member states and three EFTA member states; Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which give shared features the various driving licence styles formerly in use. It is credit card-style with a photograph and a microchip. They were introduced to replace the 110 different plastic and paper driving licences of the 300 million drivers in the EEA. The main objective of the licence is to reduce the risk of fraud.
Driving in the United Kingdom is governed by various legal powers and in some cases is subject to the passing of a driving test. The government produces a Highway Code that details the requirements for all road users, including drivers. Unlike most other countries in the world, UK traffic drives on the left.
The United Kingdom driving test is a test of competence that UK residents take in order to obtain a full Great Britain or Northern Ireland (car) driving licence or to add additional full entitlements to an existing one. Tests vary depending on the class of vehicle to be driven. In Great Britain it is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and in Northern Ireland by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA).
Driver licences in Australia refer to the official permit required for a person to legally drive a motor vehicle in Australia. The issue of driver licences, alongside the regulation and enforcement of road use, are all managed by state and territory governments.
In Canada, driver's licences are issued by the government of the province or territory in which the driver is residing. Thus, specific regulations relating to driver's licences vary province to province, though overall they are quite similar. All provinces have provisions allowing non-residents to use licences issued by other provinces and territories, out-of-country licences, and International Driving Permits. Many provinces also allow non-residents to use regular licences issued by other nations and countries. Canadian driver's licences are also valid in many other countries due to various international agreements and treaties.
In India, a driving licence is an official document that authorises its holder to operate various types of motor vehicles on highways and some other roads to which the public have access. In various Indian states, they are administered by the Regional Transport Authorities/Offices (RTA/RTO). A driving licence is required in India by any person driving a vehicle on any highway or other road defined in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. This act sets limits on the minimum age for vehicle operation ranging from 16 to 20, depending on specific circumstances. A modern photo of the driving licence can also serve many of the purposes of an identity card in non-driving contexts such as proof of identity or age.
The Russian Empire was one of the first countries to create a driving licence. Russia's first licences were issued in 1900 by Saint Petersburg authorities, and Russia joined an international convention in 1909. However, due to relatively small number of cars, the attempts to create a standardised Russian licence were rather sporadic and limited to major urban areas. No comprehensive system of driver licensing was present until 1936, when the Soviet government organised and standardised traffic and driving regulations, with the state-wide system regulated by specialised police authorities.
The New Zealand driver licence system is a graduated system that has been in place since 1988. It consists of three phases for a car licence, each with varying levels of conditions.
Swedish driving licences adhere to a standard set in the European Economic Area. 18 years is the minimum age to obtain a licence for cars.
In Romania the driving licence is a governmental right given to those who request a licence for any of the categories they desire. It is required for every type of motorized vehicle. The minimum age to obtain a driving licence is 18 years. Regardless of age, in the first year after obtaining the licence the driver is called a beginner and has to display on the windscreen and the back window of the car the distinctive sign.
In South Africa, the driving licence is the official document which authorises the holder to drive a motor vehicle on a public road. Driving licences are issued by authorised driving licence testing centres, which are run by the municipalities under the supervision of the provincial and national Departments of Transport. Since 1998, the driving licence has been issued in a "credit card format"; before then it was included in the holder's national identity document. The minimum age to hold a licence is 18. Apply for a driving licence | South African with the exception of Code A1 for which the minimum age is 16.
A driver's license is a legal authorization, or the official document confirming such an authorization, for a specific individual to operate one or more types of motorized vehicles—such as motorcycles, cars, trucks, or buses—on a public road. Such licenses are often plastic and the size of a credit card.
In Spain the driving licence is a governmental right given to those who request a licence for any of the categories they desire. It is required for every type of motorized vehicle. The minimum age to obtain a driving licence is: 16 years for a motorcycle, 18 years for a car, and 21 years for buses and cargo vehicles.
In the Republic of Lebanon, a driving licence is the official document which authorises its holder to operate various types of motor vehicles on highways and some other roads to which the public have access and are issued by each individual district.
Vehicle weight is a measurement of wheeled motor vehicles; either an actual measured weight of the vehicle under defined conditions or a gross weight rating for its weight carrying capacity.