learner driver UK

So your son or daughter wants to learn to drive?!

So the moment you dreaded has arrived. Your son or daughter has decided that they want to learn to drive!

Whether driving is something they have been desperate to do for as long as you can remember, or a sudden desire that you weren’t expecting, you now need to decide how to help them achieve their dream. And stay safe in the process.

But where do you start? And how much is it all going to cost?

In this article we look at five key steps to take to help your son or daughter learn to drive:

  • The provisional driving licence;
  • Driving lessons;
  • The theory test;
  • The driving test;
  • Things to do after they’ve passed their test.


The provisional driving licence

Your son or daughter will need a provisional driving licence before they can start learning to drive. They can apply for this from the age of 15 years and 9 months, but cannot drive a car until the age of 17 (or a moped until the age of 16). 

Provisional licences can be obtained from the DVLA online or by sending a postal application using a D1 form from a Post Office. Online applications cost £34 and usually take around a week; postal applications cost £43 and you should allow up to 3 weeks to receive the provisional licence. 

For the application process your son or daughter will need to provide details of:

  • the address(es) where they have lived for the last 3 years;
  • an identity document such as a passport;
  • a valid photo and signature (these may be able to be taken from their passport);
  • their National Insurance number if they know it.


They must also be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away to qualify for their licence. This will be checked at the start of their practical driving test, and if they are unable to do this the test will be terminated and they will fail.

When your son or daughter passes their driving test, the DVLA will replace their provisional licence with a full driving licence free of charge.


Driving lessons

When learning to drive, your son or daughter must be supervised either by a driving instructor or other qualified driver at all times. Whilst professional driving lessons can be expensive, the advantages are that the instructors are experienced not only in teaching others to drive but also in knowing how to help them pass their driving test. So it may be worth starting with some professional lessons, then supplementing these by taking your son or daughter out on the road yourself.

Be aware that certain rules apply to any supervising driver with your son or daughter. They must:

  • be at least 21 years old : some car insurers specify 25;
  • have had a full UK or EU driving licence for at least three years;
  • be qualified to drive the type of vehicle your son or daughter is driving;
  • not use their mobile phone whilst supervising your son or daughter;
  • not charge any money for the session.


Also remember that L plates must be displayed on the car when your son or daughter is driving, but must be removed when they are no longer driving it. 


The theory test

Your son or daughter can usually take their theory test as soon as they are 17. But if they either receive or have applied for the higher weekly mobility rate of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) they may be able to take it from their 16th birthday onwards. They need to have their provisional licence in order to book their theory test.

They need to pass their theory test before taking their driving test. But if they fail their theory test they can resit, and can rebook their theory test at least 3 working days away from the one they have failed.

The theory test can be booked online on the Gov UK website and costs £23. The current wait for theory tests is around 6 weeks. 

To book the test your son or daughter will need their:

  • provisional driving licence number;
  • email address;
  • credit or debit card.


There are two parts to the theory test:

  • multiple-choice questions;
  • hazard perception – a video test about spotting hazards on the road.


Your son or daughter must pass both parts to pass their theory test. They can prepare for the test by using practice tests available on the Gov UK website.

They will be given the result of their test immediately after taking it and, if they pass, they will be given a letter with a pass certificate number, which will be needed when they book and take their driving test. The pass certificate is valid for 2 years and if they do not pass their driving test within that time, they will need to pass the theory test again.


The driving test

Your son or daughter can book their driving test online at Gov UK. Tests can be booked up to 24 weeks in the future, and the online booking service is available from 6am to 11:40pm.

They can also book by phone by calling the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on 0300 200 1122. The line is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.

The current average wait for a driving test is around 15 weeks.

To book the test, your son or daughter will need to provide:

  • UK driving licence number;
  • theory test pass certificate number;
  • credit or debit card;
  • driving instructor’s personal reference number if they want to check they’re available.


The driving test for a car costs £62 on weekdays, or £75 on evenings, weekends and bank holidays

The driving test usually lasts for about 40 minutes, and includes: 

  • an eyesight check;
  • vehicle safety questions;
  • general driving ability;
  • reversing a vehicle;
  • independent driving.


You can find more information on all the above on the Gov UK website


Things to do after they’ve passed their test

Once your son or daughter has passed their driving test they are allowed to drive unsupervised. Some new drivers like to display green ‘probationary’ P plates on their car to show that they’ve just passed their driving test, but these are optional. 

It’s very important to ensure that, as a new driver, your son or daughter is properly insured. If they are driving the same car they learned in, they will need to upgrade from learner driver insurance to a full policy. This can be very expensive, but there are a few ways that you can help them to bring the cost down:


  • Telematics

Telematics – or “black box” – insurance requires a smart device to be installed in their car that tracks driving habits such as speed, braking patterns, and road usage. The idea is to build up accurate evidence of how safe a driver your son or daughter is, and hopefully enable them to access cheaper insurance sooner than would normally be the case.


  • Add another driver to the policy

Another option that could save your son or daughter money is to add an older, more experienced driver as a named driver on their policy. This can reduce the cost of the policy as the insurance risk is spread between the new and experienced driver, which from the insurance provider’s point of view lessens the chance of an accident.


  • Build a no-claims discount

Whatever you initially decide about car insurance, if your son or daughter drives carefully they will gradually build up a no-claims discount for every year they go without making a claim. Even though this does not make things cheaper in the early years, it will unlock discounts of between 30-60% later on.


We hope that the information in this article helps you to get your son or daughter on the best start to their driving journey. If you need any additional funds to help things along, remember that Munzee offers loans online that may be able to help.

Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Munzee Loans.