Can you drive with a provisional licence?

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Age requirements
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If you’re a provisional licence holder, you are legally allowed to drive a car outside of your driving lessons. There are a few important things you need to know first — but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 👇

You’ll (probably) need to be 17 before you can drive a car

You can order your provisional licence a few months before your 16th birthday. But most people won’t be able to drive a car, or take any driving tests, until they’re 17.

There’s one main exception, though. If you get, or have applied for, certain types of personal independence or mobility support from the government, you can drive at 16.

You can ride some mopeds at 16

As long as the engine size is under 50cc, and its top speed is no more than 45km/h, you can drive a moped from the age of 16. There are couple of things that you’ll need to do first, though:

  • Order and receive your provisional licence
  • Take a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course

Just so you know, this doesn’t apply to quad bikes or ATVs. To ride those, you’ll need a full UK driving licence.

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Driving with a supervisor on a provisional licence

If you’re a learner driver, you can only drive a car with a more experienced driver supervising you. They don’t have to be a driving instructor, though — you can practice with a friend or family member.

In England, Scotland, and Wales, your supervisor will need to:

  • Be over the age of 21
  • Have held a full driving licence (issued in the UK, EU, or EEA) for at least three years

Your supervisor doesn’t need to be insured on the car you’re driving, but it’s probably a good idea for them to be covered anyway. That way, they’ll be able to take over if you need help.

Oh, and just so you know, they’re not allowed to use their mobile phone while supervising you.

You can drive with a provisional licence providing you have a supervisor with you
You can drive with a provisional licence providing you have a supervisor with you
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Using temporary learner driver insurance rather than being a named driver could save you thousands. Learner driver insurance.

Driving with L plates

Whether you’re driving with an instructor or a supervisor, you have to display “L” plates on the front and back of the car.

Learner drivers can take passengers

As long as somebody in the car is legally able to supervise you, learner drivers can carry passengers when driving as a learner.

Learners can only drive on motorways with a driving instructor

If you’re practicing with a friend or family member, stay clear of the motorways.

In England, Scotland, and Wales, learner drivers can only use the motorway with a driving instructor — and the car has to have dual controls.

Learner driver insurance

This one’s really important. Whether you’re a learner or not, you should always have valid insurance when driving a car.

If you’re caught driving without car insurance, you could get your vehicle seized, a fine, and six points on your licence.

Obviously, having licence points before you’ve passed your test is far from ideal. Not only would it be much more difficult to get affordable insurance once you’ve passed, but you’d also be at a greater risk of losing your licence entirely.

Six points is the maximum that new drivers can have — so you’d be just one mistake away from having your licence revoked.

Learning to drive on a provisional licence can be really fun
Learning to drive on a provisional licence can be really fun

How to apply for a provisional driving licence

You can apply for a provisional licence on the GOV.UK website.

You need to be at least 15 years and 9 months old, and have legally lived in the UK for at least half of the last year.

It costs £34 to apply online, and you can pay by credit or debit card.

Learner driver insurance

If you want to get some extra driving practice on top of your lessons, you have two options:

Temporary learner insurance could be cheaper and gives you a lot more flexibility. You can insure yourself on a family member or friend's car in just minutes, and their policy will be protected.

So grab your licence, make sure you’ve got your supervisor, and get a quote.

Updated on 3rd April 2023