Learner driver rules: what age can you drive and get your licence?

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Minimum age
Driving licence
Maximum age
Learner insurance
Courses for young drivers

Applying for your provisional licence, taking lessons and passing your driving test are major milestones, with most of us aiming to get on the road as soon as legally possible.

But there are limits on just how young you can be to start. Here’s how it all works. 👇

What’s the minimum age you can start to learn to drive in the UK?

Before you start learning to drive in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, you must have a provisional driving licence, and you can apply for this when you’re 15 years and 9 months old.

When you're 16, you can learn to drive a car if you receive or have applied for the mobility section of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) at the enhanced rate. Under normal circumstances, though, you cannot drive a car on UK roads until you turn 17.

If you are lucky enough to have access to private land that isn’t available to the public, these rules don’t apply, and you can practice as much as you wish without a licence or insurance. Unfortunately, your local supermarket car park doesn’t count - although privately owned, it’s accessible by members of the public, so you’ll need to find somewhere more suitable.

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What’s the minimum age you can hold a full licence?

Once you have your provisional licence and are 17 years old, you can begin your driving lessons. The exception, again, is if you have applied for the relevant PIP benefit or are already receiving it - then you can begin learning at 16.

You can take your driving theory test once you have your provisional licence. To book your driving test, you must have passed your theory test. You need to also be either 17 years old, or 16 and have applied for, or be in receipt of, the relevant PIP.

The minimum age limit differs depending on what type of vehicle you are planning on driving. There are exemptions to these rules, so it’s best to check on the Government website.

  • Moped - 16 years
  • Motorbike (up to 125cc) - 17 years
  • Motorbike (125 - 395cc) - 19 years
  • Motorbikes (unrestricted) - 24 years
  • HGV - 18 years
  • Bus - 18 years

Is there a maximum age you can drive?

There’s no maximum age for driving in the UK, and Britain’s oldest driver is recorded as being 107 years old!

Once you’ve turned 70, the DVLA will send you a licence renewal form. Known as a D46P form, you must re-apply every three years.

Although you won’t have to pass a medical, you are expected to be honest about any health concerns and meet the minimum eyesight requirement. This can be assessed by your optician and is free on the NHS for those over 60.

If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, it’s essential to check with your doctor whether the DVLA needs to be informed. There’s a fine of up to £1,000 for failing to do so.

You (normally) have to be at least 17 years old to start driving.
You (normally) have to be at least 17 years old to start driving

Car insurance for learner drivers

If you’re taking driving lessons through a driving school, or professional instructor, they should have their own insurance that offers financial protection in the event of an accident. However, if a family member or friend is teaching you or helping you practice in either their car or your own car, you must be insured.

Car insurance for learner drivers offers short-term cover until you pass your test. Designed to be flexible, most policies will cover you to drive someone else's car, with them as a supervisor without risking their no-claims bonus. Learner, or as it’s sometimes called provisional, insurance also protects you if you are taking lessons in your own car, providing a full licence holder accompanies you.

Why is insurance for young drivers so expensive?

It can be hard enough to afford driving lessons, and the subsequent tests, but add on the cost of car insurance for young drivers, and it’s enough to break the bank!

Why does it cost so much?

Insurance is all about calculating risks. The prices set by your provider depend on many factors, but above all, the figures are based on how likely they think you are to make an insurance claim.

Research from the RAC Foundation suggests that within the first six months after passing their test, one in five young drivers will have a crash. With less road experience, new drivers under 25 years old are a more significant insurance risk than any other age group.

Young drivers are also statistically less able to assess hazards due to inexperience and are more likely to engage in over-confident, risky driving, such as speeding or dangerous overtaking. As a result, any accidents they are involved in can prove to be more serious than an older driver’s.

However, there are several ways to get cheaper car insurance for young people:

  • Adding a more experienced named driver to your insurance policy can reduce your insurance. It can work similarly if you’re added to the policy of a more experienced driver, such as your parents or older sibling. A driver with plenty of experience is less likely to need to claim, which makes them cheaper to insure.
  • Carefully consider the type of car you need. Vehicles with smaller engines are usually cheaper to insure.
  • Change where you keep your car overnight. Insurance companies consider garages or on your driveway to be the safest places to park your vehicle.
  • Think about adding security upgrades such as immobilisers, alarms and locking wheel nuts.
  • Limit how many miles you drive annually. Fewer miles on the road mean less risk for insurance providers.
  • Increase your voluntary excess payment.
  • Remember, though, that this will be the amount you must pay out if you need to make a claim.
  • Pay annually if you can. Monthly premiums are always more expensive when spread over a year.
  • Although this won’t help initially, building up a no claims bonus causes your premiums to reduce over time.
  • Make sure you are on the electoral roll, as this makes it easier for the insurance provider to check your details, keeping costs down.

There is no max age limit for driving in the UK.
There is no max age limit for driving in the UK

Driving courses for young people

There are numerous options if you choose to take advantage of a driving course. Many exist specifically to get you through your test as quickly as possible, but there are also advanced courses designed to help you gain experience once you’ve passed your test.

Often specialising in particular conditions, including motorway, night time or snowy weather driving, these courses can improve road confidence, increase skill levels and may even lower your insurance premiums.

As you can see, it’s well worth talking to your instructor about taking some advanced courses once you have your full licence.

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Updated on 22nd September 2022