Once you reach the age of 17 you can apply for your provisional driving licence - you can actually apply 2 months before your 17th birthday but cannot start to drive until the licence arrives. You must apply for your provisional licence before you sit the theory and hazard perception tests.
To be eligible for a provisional driver's licence, you need to be a minimum of 17 years of age, have good eyesight with or without glasses - you will be tested on this when you take your driving test - and you must not suffer from certain medical conditions which might prevent you from driving (see Direct.gov.uk for more details).
How to Apply for Your Provisional Licence
You can pick up the relevant forms from your local post office or alternatively you can apply online via direct.gov.uk
You'll need to complete the forms - known as D1 - and also include two passport sized photographs which will be used for identification purposes. One photograph is used for your Photocard Licence and the other one is kept on file by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). You must also include the fee for this licence which currently stands at £50.
You will be required to have someone of a professional nature such as a doctor, teacher or police officer that knows you, sign the reverse of the photographs to confirm that they are actually photographs of you and that the application is not being made fraudulently. This is common practice just as it is when applying for a passport and there is nothing to cause alarm in the procedure. Neighbours who are business owners or teachers or your own doctor will be happy to do this for you; they probably get asked on a regular basis to help with such applications.
How Long Does It Take for My Provisional Licence to Arrive?
Depending on the time of year and how busy the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) happen to be at the time of submitting your application, the whole process can take anything from four to six weeks - online applications are quicker and usually take around two weeks. Of course there may be occasions when the process takes longer especially if there is an unexpected influx of applications or if you have incorrectly filled out the application forms.
A Driving Instructor will ask you at the commencement of lessons to provide proof of your driving licence.
After Your Provisional Licence Arrives
Upon receipt of your provisional driving licence you can begin taking lessons and should always carry the licence with you when you are driving. Once you hold your provisional licence, it is your responsibility to ensure that any vehicle you drive is roadworthy and has the correct tax and insurance. While you are learning to drive on your provisional licence, you must always be accompanied by another driver, who should be over the age of 21 and hold a full valid driver's licence, in the relevant vehicle category. The accompanying driver must have had their full driving licence for a minimum of three years.
Until you pass your driving test, you should display an 'L' plate on both the front and rear of any vehicle you are driving - in a position where they can be seen clearly. (In Wales these are 'D' plates). You can buy 'L' plates (usually stickers or magnetic) from any major supermarket or motoring parts/accessories supplier.
If you already have a full driving licence and want to Drive Larger Vehicles - or vehicles that your current licence does not cover - then you will need to apply for provisional entitlement to drive those vehicles. You will not have to pay to get this provisional entitlement. To apply for provisional entitlement to drive larger vehicles, you will need to complete application form D2 and medical form D4. The medical form has to be completed by a doctor and you will normally be charged for this.