All motorists need a driving licence to drive on a public road in the UK. A public road is defined as one that is the responsibility the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
Drivers who only use private roads do not need a licence, as these are roads where the public does not have access. Some vehicles are exempt from needing a license on either public or private roads, for example bicycles.
ALA GAP Insurance has compiled a Driving Licence Guide for areas of the licence that are less well-known to motorists.
Driving Licence Age Limit
Individuals can apply for a provisional driving licence when they have reached the age of 15 years and 9 months.
Once you have passed the test, you may drive at the age of:
- 17 years, for a car
- 16 years, for a moped or light quad bike
The licence will state when you can start driving other types of vehicles.
Applying for a Provisional Driving Licence
There are a number of requirements that need to be met before applying for a provisional licence. These include:
- being a resident of Great Britain
- meeting the age requirement for a specific kind of vehicle
- meet the eyesight requirement for a specific kind of vehicle
- being able to pay the £34 fee
- having a UK passport or any other valid form of identification
- having a National Insurance number
- being able to provide addresses lived at from the last 3 years
- not being prevented from driving for any reason
Provisional driving licence
Once the provisional licence has been obtained to drive a car, the motorist:
- must display ‘L’ plates on the front and back of the vehicle
- must not drive on a motorway
- must have someone with them when driving, if their car has more than one seat in the front. The person supervising must age 21 or over, have had a full driving licence for at least three years
They must also sit in the front passenger seat and must be fit to drive.
Motorists who have passed their driving test and are waiting to receive a full licence are exempt from the restrictions above.
Full driving licence
Motorists are entitled to apply for a full driving licence if they have passed a driving test in the UK within the previous two years. A full licence does not have any restrictions except those relating to:
- being the legal age to drive the appropriate vehicle
- being old enough to supervise learner drivers
- the type of vehicle the licence covers
- the medical condition of the driver. It is a legal requirement to inform the DVLA of any health condition that might affect driving ability
Driving licence explained
The front of a new driving licence currently shows:
- all dates as DD.MM.YYYY
- categories separated by a slash
- the licence expiry date in 4b
The back of a new driving licence currently shows a table to find out when each type of licence was issued.
|Licence issue date||Example|
|15 October 2012 and 18 January 2013||A or B|
|19 January 2013 and 5 February 2014||B|
|From 6 February 2014||C|
The expiry date of the licence is shown on the front in section 4b, with the expiry date of entitlements shown on the back of the licence. All vehicle categories are also listed on the back, with dates until which the motorist is entitled to drive or ride. Categories that have lines instead of dates indicate which vehicles the motorist is not entitled to drive. However, motorists who have passed a test in a larger vehicle may still be entitled to drive or ride smaller vehicles as well, despite those categories showing lines instead of dates, e.g. holders of full category A would be entitled to ride a category A2 vehicle.
Driving licence fees
Driving licence fees vary depending on whether you need to renew, exchange or amend your driving licence. There are also costs if you need to get a replacement if yours licence is lost, stolen or damaged.
|Type of licence||Apply online||Apply by post|
|First provisional licence – car, motorcycle, moped||£34||£43|
|First full GB licence in exchange for a full European Community/European Economic Area or other designated foreign licence||N/A||£43|
|Replace licence if it’s been lost, stolen, defaced or destroyed.||£20|
|Renewing an expired driving licence||£14||£17|
|Renewal after disqualification||N/A||£65|
|If disqualified for some drink-driving offences where the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) need to arrange medical enquiries||N/A||£90|
|After your licence has been revoked (under the New Drivers Act)||N/A||£50|
Driving licence codes
The following codes on the driving licence explain the conditions needed to drive:
01 – eyesight correction
02 – hearing/communication aid
10 – modified transmission
15 – modified clutch
20 – modified braking systems
25 – modified accelerator systems
30 – combined braking and accelerator systems
35 – modified control layouts
40 – modified steering
42 – modified rear-view mirror(s)
43 – modified driving seats
44 – modifications to motorbikes
44 (1) – single operated brake
44 (2) – (adjusted) hand operated brake (front wheel)
44 (3) – (adjusted) foot operated brake (back wheel)
44 (4) – (adjusted) accelerator handle
44 (5) – (adjusted) manual transmission and manual clutch
44 (6) – (adjusted) rear-view mirror(s)
44 (7) – (adjusted) commands (direction indicators, braking light, etc)
44 (8) – seat height allowing the driver, in sitting position, to have 2 feet on the road at the same time
45 – motorbikes only with sidecar
46 – tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)
70 – exchange of licence
71 – duplicate of licence
78 – restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission
79 – restricted to vehicles in conformity with the specifications stated in brackets on your licence
79.02 – restricted to category AM vehicles of the 3-wheel or light quadricycle type
79.03 – restricted to tricycles
96 – allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer where the trailer weighs at least 750kg, and the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is between 3,500kg and 4,250kg
97 – not allowed to drive category C1 vehicles which are required to have a tachograph fitted
101 – not for hire or reward (that is, not to make a profit)
102 – drawbar trailers only
103 – subject to certificate of competence
105 – vehicle not more than 5.5 metres long
106 – restricted to vehicles with automatic transmissions
107 – not more than 8,250 kilograms
108 – subject to minimum age requirements
110 – limited to transporting persons with restricted mobility
111 – limited to 16 passenger seats
113 – limited to 16 passenger seats except for automatics
114 – with any special controls required for safe driving
115 – organ donor
118 – start date is for earliest entitlement
119 – weight limit for vehicle does not apply
121 – restricted to conditions specified in the Secretary of State’s notice
122 – valid on successful completion: Basic Moped Training Course
125 – tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)
Driving licence categories
To drive a specific type of vehicle, motorists need an ‘entitlement’ for that category on their driving licence. Check the entitlements and their restrictions below.
Motorists can drive 2-wheeled or 3-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 25km/h (15.5mph) but not more than 45km/h (28mph).
Motorists can drive 2-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 45km/h (28mph) but not more than 50km/h (31mph).
Its engine size must not be more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine.
Motorists can drive 2-wheeled vehicles with:
- an engine size not more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine
- a maximum design speed of no more than 25km/h (15.5mph)
Motorists can drive light motorbikes with:
- an engine size up to 125cc
- a power output of up to 11kW
- a power- to-weight ratio not more than 0.1kW/kg
Motorists can drive motorbikes with a:
- power output up to 35kW
- power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.2kW/kg
The motorbike must also not be derived from a vehicle of more than double its power.
Motorists can also drive motorbikes in category A1.
Motorists can drive:
- motorbikes with a power output more than 35kW or a power-to-weight ratio more than 0.2kW/kg
- motor tricycles with a power output more than 15kW
Motorists can also drive motorbikes in categories A1 and A2.
Light vehicles and quad bikes
Motorists can drive motor vehicles with 4 wheels up to 400kg unladen or 550kg if they’re designed for carrying goods.
Motorists can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) with up to 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Motorists can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer isn’t more than 3,500kg.
Motorists can drive motor tricycles with a power output higher than 15kW if the motorist is over 21 years old.
Physically disabled drivers with provisional category B entitlement will also have provisional entitlement to ride category A1 or A motor tricycles.
Able-bodied drivers can no longer ride motor tricycles with a provisional category B licence.
Category B auto
Motorists can drive a category B vehicle – but only an automatic one.
Motorists can drive a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg with a trailer.
The size of the trailer depends on when you passed your test. If you passed your test:
- before 19 January 2013 you can tow any size trailer
- on or after 19 January 2013 you can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500kg
Motorists can drive vehicles weighing between 3,500 and 7,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Motorists can drive C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg, but the trailer – when fully loaded – can’t weigh more than the vehicle.
The combined weight of both can’t exceed 12,000kg.
Motorists can drive vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Motorists can drive category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
Motorists can drive vehicles with:
- no more than 16 passenger seats
- a maximum length of 8 metres
- a trailer up to 750kg
Motorists can drive D1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg, but the trailer – when fully loaded – can’t weigh more than the vehicle.
Motorists can drive any bus with more than 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Motorists can drive D category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
|Category||Vehicle you can drive|
|k||Mowing machine or pedestrian-controlled vehicle|
|n||Exempt from duty|
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