Driving in the UK

Anyone driving in the UK must:

  • Have a Valid current DRIVING LICENCE
  • Be covered by INSURANCE.
  • Drive a vehicle REGISTERED in the owner’s name.
  • Drive a vehicle with valid ROAD TAX (there are some exemptions)

The Immigration and International Student Advice team have produced a guidance sheet to help you plan to drive in the UK.  Additional information on driving in the UK is below. You can find further information on all topics, and additional areas such as riding Mopeds and Motorcycles on the UKCISA Website.

EEA students

If you have a full driving licence issued in an EEA country there is no need to change it for a UK licence, provided it remains valid.

International students from outside the EEA

During the first year of your stay in the UK you can drive with a valid driving licence from your own country or an International Driving Permit but after one year you must take out a Provisional UK Licence and put ‘L’ plates on your car. You must then arrange to sit a full UK Driving Test. Until you pass your test, a person who has held a full UK, NI or EEA driving Licence for 3 years and is over the age of 21 must sit at your side whenever you are driving and you cannot drive on a motorway (M1, M2, M3, M4 etc.).

Further information is available in the guidance sheet at the top of this page.

Car Hire in the UK

To hire a car in the UK you must hold a full Driver’s licence or an International Driving Licence, and have been driving for at least twelve months. You will need to show your current licence to the hire company, or if you have a UK driving licence obtain a car hire code from the DVLA. You must have, or arrange as part of the hire process, valid insurance for the period you will be driving the car. You should check the requirements for insurance with the car hire provider.

There are many car hire providers in the UK, with several local companys in Cardiff, Newport and Pontypridd.  You should contact different companies to find out which one will give you the best deal for your intended trip. You can also check the Yellow Pages Directory for a list of local hire car providers.

Registering a car in the UK

If a car which has been registered abroad (including other EU countries) is used for more than six months in the UK, it should be registered at the DVLA. Check with them for up-to-date legislation . You will probably be asked to send:

  • The car logbook
  • UK insurance certificate
  • MOT certificate (if car more than 3 years old)
  • Completed VAT form 414 (the DVLA Office can supply this) if you come from within the EU
  • Customs Form (the DVLA can supply this) if you come from outside the EU

Insurance cover for your car

You must have personal insurance to drive a car in the UK. There are three types of insurance cover available in the UK, comprehensive, Third Party, Fire & Theft or just Third Party. The compulsory Third Party insurance does not cover loss or damage to your own car caused by unknown or uninsured persons. Comprehensive insurance does, but it can be very expensive.

Taxing a car in the UK

All cars need a road tax licence before you can drive in the UK. From October 2014 Road Tax discs do not need to be displayed in a car windscreen. Road Tax can now be purchased either online or from your local Post Office. The cost differs according to your car and is valid for 6 or for 12 months.  Please see the downloadable guide at the top of this page for further information.

If you are a European student who has brought your car with you to the UK, providing that you are in the UK purely to study, you will not have to tax your car. There is a European Court of Justice directive  of 28 March 1983 Article 5 1b which confirms this.

MOT (Ministry of Transport test)

All cars over three years old must be tested annually for roadworthiness (the test is known as the MOT and can be carried out by most garages).

Parking permits

If you have a car which you park on the road outside your house, you may need a resident’s parking permit to do so. You can find out if you need a permit for your street on the local council website for TreforestCardiff or Newport.

Further information about applying for parking permits in each local authority is available on UniLife.

The Highway Code sets out the rules for driving in the UK. If you take a driving test in the UK you will be asked questions about these rules. If you have an international driving licence you should review this code before driving in the UK.

Further information for drivers including information on car breakdowns and finding your way can be accessed on the websites of the two main British Motoring Organisations the RAC and The AA.

UK DRIVING

In the United Kingdom, a driving licence is the official document which authorises its holder to operate motor vehicles on highways and other public roads. It is administered in England, Scotland and Wales by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and in Northern Ireland by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA). A driving licence is required in England, Scotland, and Wales for any person (except the sovereign[citation needed]) driving a vehicle on any highway or other “road”, as defined in s.192 Road Traffic Act 1988,[1] irrespective of the ownership of the land over which the road passes. Similar requirements apply in Northern Ireland under the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

Prior to the UK leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020 and during the transition period which ended on 31 December 2020, a UK driving licence was a European driving licence,[2] adhering to Directive 2006/126/EC and valid throughout the European Economic Area. A new updated design has been issued from January 2021, now simply reading “UK” in larger blue letters, where the EU flag with the circle of stars surrounding the “UK” code used to be.[3][4]

Since July 2015, all UK driving licence photocards issued by the DVLA have displayed the Union Flag, and since December 2021[5] also the Royal Coat of Arms on the front of the driving licence. This does not apply to driving licences issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland.[6]

As UK nationals do not normally have identity cards, a photographic driving licence can serve many of the purposes of an identity card in non-driving contexts, such as proof of identity (e.g. when opening a bank account) or of age (e.g. when buying age-restricted goods such as alcohol or tobacco).

Regulations[edit]

Provisional licences and learner drivers[edit]

Example of a provisional driving licence issued in Great Britain after December 2021
Example of a provisional driving licence issued in Northern Ireland after December 2021

Applications for a provisional driving licence can be made in Great Britain from the age of 15 years and 9 months and in Northern Ireland from 16 years and 10 months. Once a United Kingdom driving test has been passed, the driving licence is valid for driving a moped or light quad bike from age 16, and a car from age 17, or 16 for those who receive, or have applied for, the higher or enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP or DLA.[7][8] A driving test consists of three sections: theory, hazard perception and a driving examination. Until this test has been passed, a driver may hold only a provisional licence[9] and is subject to certain conditions. The conditions attached to provisional licences for a particular category of vehicle are:[10]

L plate
L plate
D plate (Wales)
D plate (Wales)
Learner driver plates in the UK
  • L-plates or D-plates (in Wales only) (WelshDysgwr, “learner”) must be conspicuously displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • Learner drivers of a particular category and transmission type of vehicle must be accompanied by somebody aged 21 or above who has held a full driving licence for that category and transmission type for at least three years, except in the case of solo motorcycles and vehicles of certain categories designed solely for one person.
  • No trailer may be towed, except when driving a tractor or where a full licence gives provisional entitlement to drive a car with trailer, large goods vehicle with trailer or passenger carrying vehicle with trailer.
  • Motorcycle riders must not carry any pillion passengers.
  • Coach or bus drivers must not carry any passenger except a person giving or receiving instruction.
  • Motorways must not be used by holders of car and motorcycle provisional licences,[11] excluding category B (car) licence holders who are learner drivers for the purposes of the trailer category BE, or unless supervised by an Approved Driving Instructor in a car fitted with dual controls.[12]

In Northern Ireland, learner drivers are limited to a speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) and are not permitted on motorways regardless of whether or not they are under instruction by an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor), and drivers who have passed their test within the previous year must display R plates (restricted) and are also limited to a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) until the expiry of the restricted period. R plates are similar in style to L plates, with a thick-set dark orange R displayed on a white background and most L plates have the orange R on the reverse side.[13]

After passing a driving test, the provisional licence may be surrendered within two years in exchange for a full UK licence[9] for the relevant kind of vehicle. Full car licences allow use of mopeds and motorcycles provided a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course is completed (the requirement to have a CBT in Northern Ireland was introduced on 21 February 2011).[14]

Newly qualified drivers[edit]

R plate that must be displayed by restricted drivers in Northern Ireland
P plates that some new drivers choose to display in Great Britain

There are currently no restrictions on newly qualified drivers in England, Wales or Scotland; however if a newly qualified driver receives six penalty points within two years of passing, the licence is automatically revoked and the driver must pass the full test again; this also applies in Northern Ireland.[15] These six points remain on the new licence until their designated expiry time.[16]

In Great Britain, some new drivers may display green “P” plates (“probationary”) on their vehicle to alert other drivers that they have recently passed their driving test. This is optional and not a legal requirement and may be displayed for as long as desired. P plates are not commonly used in Northern Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, new drivers must display orange “R” plates for 1 year after passing the test, and are limited to a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km/h). This is a legal requirement and failure to display R plates results in 2 penalty points and a fine.[17] These drivers are known as restricted drivers.

In the Isle of Man (a UK Crown dependency), new drivers must display “R” plates similar to those in Northern Ireland, but red, for 1 year after passing the test, and are limited to a maximum speed of 50 mph (80 km/h).

Towing restrictions[edit]

The rules on what a driver can tow are different depending on when they passed their driving test. If they passed their car driving test on or after 1 January 1997, they may drive a car or van up to 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750 kg (1,650 lb) MAM, and they may tow a trailer over 750 kg (1,650 lb) MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) MAM when loaded. They must pass the car and trailer driving test to tow anything heavier. If a driver passed their car test before 1 January 1997, they are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg (18,190 lb) MAM. They are also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750 kg (1,650 lb) MAM.[18]

On 16 September 2021, the Secretary of State for Transport laid a statutory instrument [19] to retrospectively grant the B+E (car and trailer) entitlement to all category B licence holders. From 15 November 2021, all standard car licence holders will be able to tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500 kg (7,700 lb). An additional legislative change from the 16th December 2021 also means that drivers with B (Car) entitlement will automatically have B+E (Car & Trailer) entitlement without the need to take a B+E test. This will allow you to tow a vehicle up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).

Other regulations[edit]

Motor car licences issued in the United Kingdom distinguish between automatic and manual transmission vehicles, depending on whether or not a driving test was passed in a vehicle with manual transmission (unless a vehicle test was taken in the UK before such distinction was made). While a manual transmission vehicle licence permits the holder to drive a vehicle of either kind, an automatic transmission vehicle licence is solely for vehicles with automatic transmission. The licence also shows whether a driver requires glasses or contact lenses to meet the legal driving requirements, if known.

Drivers who obtained rights to drive category D1 minibuses before 1997 (by passing a test for the obsolete class A) must not drive such vehicles for hire or reward, nor accept any form of payment in money, goods or kind from any passengers carried.

Category B licences automatically cover both groups C1 (lorries not exceeding 7.5 tomnnes MAM) and D1 but as the holder approaches 45, they must renew their licence. They must provide a doctor’s medical report plus an optometrist’s report (if the doctor cannot certify the eyesight requirement).[20] Anyone who has C1 and D1 rights on an older paper licence (before the photocard licence) retains the right to drive C1 and D1 without medical evidence until age 70 (so called:grandfather rights).[21] Though like any responsible driver, should have regular eye checks.

There is no maximum age for driving or holding a driving licence, but holders must renew their licences at age 70 and every three years thereafter, at which times they must provide evidence of a medical exam and separate eyesight test if the right to drive C1 and D1 vehicles is to be retained.[22]

History[edit]

Driver registration was introduced in 1903 with the Motor Car Act. Holders of the sulphur-yellow coloured document were entitled to “drive a motor car or motor cycle”.[23] The wording was changed in 1930 after which holders were allowed to “drive or steer a motor car or to drive a motor cycle”. Shortly afterwards, the document cover was changed to a dark red colour. Holders were for a period entitled to drive a vehicle of “any class or description”.[23] Subsequent changes saw the document list precisely those vehicle types for which holders were licensed.

Competency tests were introduced by the Motor Vehicles Regulations 1935 applicable to all drivers who started driving after 1 April 1934. Competency tests were suspended in 1939 for seven years due to the Second World War and in 1956 for one year due to the Suez Crisis. The only person in the United Kingdom who is not required to have a driving licence in order to drive is the King.[24][25]

Until 1973, driving licences (and tax discs) were issued by local authorities and had to be renewed every three years. In 1971, the decision was taken to computerise the licensing system to enable it to be linked to the Police National Computer and to extend the life of the licence up to the driver’s 70th birthday, extendable at intervals thereafter provided the driver can prove fitness.

Except for Northern Ireland, driving licences issued before July 1998 did not have photographs on them.[26] Anyone who holds a licence issued before this date may retain their photo-less licence until expiry (normally one’s seventieth birthday) or until they change address, whichever comes sooner. The new plastic photocard driving licences have to be renewed every ten years, for a fee. Until 2015, the licence consisted of both the photocard and a paper counterpart which detailed the individual’s driving entitlements and convictions (“endorsements“). The counterpart was abolished on 8 June 2015[27] and the information formerly recorded on it is now available online via the View Driving Licence service, except in Northern Ireland where the counterpart must be kept with the photocard.[28]

Licences issued to residents of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland appear only in English, while those issued to residents of Wales appear in both English and Welsh. The Union Flag has been included on GB licences since July 2015, but not on Northern Ireland licences.[29] Since December 2021 the Royal Coat of Arms is included on GB licences.[5]

British driving licences followed the same format as this German licence until the transition period ended.

Up until 28 September 2021, the distinguishing sign of the United Kingdom was “GB”.[30] The allocation of codes is maintained by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, authorised by the UN’s Geneva Convention on Road Traffic[31] and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.[32] The UK is party to both conventions, and shall hence issue licences in conformity with the conventions. Annex 9 of the Geneva convention states that the distinguishing sign (UK) shall be inscribed in an oval. According to the Vienna convention Article 43 domestic licences have to comply with Annex 6, which says that driving licences shall include the name and/or the distinguishing sign of the country which issued the permit. UK licences did include the “GB” distinguishing code until 1990.[33]

Example of a driving licence issued in Great Britain between January 2021 and December 2021

In Directive 91/439/EEC which EU Member States had to implement before 1 July 1994, the UK had to include the emblem of the EU with the code “UK”,[34] instead of “GB” encircled by an ellipse on the front page. As the UK has subsequently withdrawn from the EU, the EU flag is no longer featured on UK driving licences issued after the transition period ended on 31 December 2020.[35] The “GB” code or the ellipse from the aforementioned conventions have not been reintroduced, since January 2021, the licences simply reads “UK” in larger blue letters where the EU flag with the circle of stars surrounding the “UK” code used to be.[3][4]

On 30 June 2021 the United Nations published a notification stating that the United Kingdom had given three months notification that it intended to change its distinguishing sign from “GB” to “UK”. This came into effect on 28 September 2021.[36]

Since December 2021, new driving licence styles were introduced. Changes were made to all versions of the GB driving licence cards and includes:[5]

  • The Union Flag has been moved to the top right corner
  • The Royal Coat of Arms is included on the front
  • The driver number is left justified and in line with the other text
  • A secondary image of the licence holder is located on the front
  • Colour shifting ink (OVI design) has been reinstated and updated to the back of the licence
  • New hologram has been added

The same changes apply to all versions of the Northern Ireland driving licence, excluding the Union Flag and Royal Coat of Arms.

Driver numbers[edit]

Great Britain[edit]

Each licence holder in England, Scotland and Wales has a unique driver number, which is 16 characters long. The characters are constructed in the following way:[37]

  • 1–5: The first five characters of the surname (padded with 9s if fewer than 5 characters). For surnames beginning with “MAC”, they are treated as “MC” for all.[38]
  • 6: The decade digit from the year of birth (e.g. for 1987 it would be 8)
  • 7–8: The month of birth in two digit format (7th character is incremented by 5 if the driver is female i.e. 51–62 instead of 01–12)
  • 9–10: The date within the month of the day of birth in two digit format (i.e. 01–31)
  • 11: The year digit from the year of birth (e.g. for 1987 it would be 7)
  • 12–13: The first initial of the first and middle name, padded with a 9 if no middle name (e.g. for John Doe Smith JD, for Jane Smith J9)
  • 14: Arbitrary digit – usually 9, but decremented to differentiate drivers with the first 13 characters in common
  • 15–16: Two computer check digits which may be letters.
  • 17–18: Two digits representing the licence issue, which increases by 1 for each licence issued.[dubious ]Not used on previous paper licences.

Northern Ireland[edit]

Driver numbers in Northern Ireland differ from those issued to drivers in GB.

Each Northern Ireland licence holder is assigned a unique, 8 digit driving licence number, e.g. 12345678. This number is assigned randomly and in no specific order.

Brexit[edit]

The EEA (blue and green)

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, starting an 11-month transition period which terminated on 31 December 2020 in accordance with the Brexit withdrawal agreement.[2] EU law continued to apply to the UK during the transition period, and hence UK driving licences were valid in the EEA and vice versa until 31 December 2020. UK licence holders living in the EU were advised to exchange their UK driving licence for a local one before the transition period ended.[39][40][41] The EU flag was removed from UK driving licences when the transition period ended.[3][35]

From 1 January 2021, with some exceptions, UK licence holders can use their driving licence when visiting EEA countries.[42][43] International Driving Permits might be needed in some cases, and depending on which convention the country in question has ratified, a 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic IDP might be required in some countries, and a 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic IDP in others. However, none of the EEA countries currently require IDPs for visitors staying shorter than 12 months.[41] EEA countries are no longer obligated to recognise or exchange UK licences if the holder moves to an EEA country, except if the UK has agreed a bilateral agreement with the country.[44]

European driving licences are recognised by the UK if the driving test was passed in an EU/EEA country, and can be used both if the holder is visiting or residing in the country. They can also be exchanged for a UK (both GB and NI) licence.[45][46]

Driving licence categories[edit]

Current categories[edit]

This is a list of the categories that might be found on a driving licence in the United Kingdom.[47]

Category Vehicle type Minimum age Notes[Notes 1]
AM Mopeds 16 2-wheeled or 3-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 15.5 mph (25 km/h) but not more than 28 mph (45 km/h).This category also includes light quadricycles with an unladen mass of not more than 350 kg (not including batteries if it is an electric vehicle) and a maximum design speed of over 15.5 mph (25 km/h) but not more than 28 mph (45 km/h).

Electrically propelled pedal cycles (with 2 or 3 wheels) are exempt from the requirement for a licence provided they conform to the EPAC rules, although there is a minimum age of 14. Such vehicles must be equipped with pedals by means of which the vehicle is capable of being propelled. If there are no pedals, then a moped licence is required.[Notes 2] Electrically assisted scooters are considered to be electrically assisted only if they conform to certain additional EPAC rules, otherwise a licence is required.[48]

P Mopeds 16 Motor vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels with a maximum design speed of over 28 mph (45 km/h) but not more than 31 mph (50 km/h). The vehicle’s engine size must not be more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine.
Q Mopeds 16 Motor vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels which, if propelled by an internal combustion engine, have a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cc and, if not equipped with pedals by means of which the vehicle is capable of being propelled, have a maximum design speed not exceeding 15.5 mph (25 km/h).
A1 Motorcycles 17 Light motorbicycles with an engine size up to 125 cc, a power output of up to 11 kW (14.75 hp), and a power to weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW/kg (136.2 hp/ton). This category also includes motor tricycles with power output up to 15 kW (20.1 hp).A practical training without exam is needed for B licence holders (Compulsory Basic Training).
A2 Motorcycles 19 Motorbicycles in category A1, as well as motorbicycles with a power output up to 35 kW (46.9 hp) and power to weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW/kg (272.5 hp/ton). The motorcycle must also not be derived from a vehicle of more than double its power.[49]
A Motorcycles 24[Notes 3] Motorcycles in categories A1 and A2, as well as motorcycles with a power output more than 35 kW (46.9 hp) or a power to weight ratio more than 0.2 kW/kg (272.5 hp/ton) and motor tricycles with a power output more than 15 kW (20.1 hp).B licence holders who are at least 21 years of age are allowed to drive motor tricycles, including three-wheeled motorcycles with a power exceeding 15 kilowatts (20 hp).
B1 Light vehicles and quadricycles 17[Notes 4] Motor vehicles with 4 wheels up to 400 kg unladen, or 550 kg if they are designed for carrying goods.
B Cars 17[Notes 5] Full licence obtained before 1 January 1997:

  • A vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).
  • A minibus with a trailer over 750 kg MAM.

Full licence obtained after 31 December 1996:

  • Vehicles up to 3,500 kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750 kg). Also covers heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500 kg.
  • Motor tricycles with a power output higher than 15 kW if driver 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.
B auto Cars 17[Notes 4] Same as Category B, but only automatic transmission.
BE Cars 17[Notes 6] A vehicle with a MAM of 3,500 kg with a trailer. The size of the trailer depends on the BE ‘valid from’ date shown on the licence. If the date is before 19 January 2013, the vehicle can tow any size trailer. If the date is on or after 19 January 2013, the vehicle can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500 kg.From 15 November 2021, BE will be granted to all category B licence holders. No category BE tests will take place after 20 September 2021.[50]
C1 Medium-sized vehicles 18[Notes 7] Vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500 kg MAM (with a trailer up to 750 kg).
C1E Medium-sized vehicles 21[Notes 8] C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg. The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000 kg.
C Large vehicles 18[Notes 9] Vehicles over 7,500 kg (with a trailer up to 750 kg MAM).
CE Large vehicles 18[Notes 9] Category C vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg.
D1 Minibuses 21[Notes 10] Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats, a maximum length of 8 metres, and a trailer up to 750 kg. See also Category B.
D1E Minibuses 18[Notes 10] D1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg MAM. The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000 kg.
D Buses 18[Notes 10] Any bus with more than 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750 kg MAM).
DE Buses 18[Notes 10] D category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg.
F Agricultural tractor 16 Maximum weight with trailer = 24 390 kg. Age 16 for tractors less than 2.45m wide. It must only pull trailers less than 2.45 m (96 in) wide with two wheels, or four close-coupled.
G Road roller 18[Notes 11]
H Tracked vehicles 18[Notes 12]
K Mowing machine or pedestrian-controlled vehicle 16
L Electrically-propelled vehicle 17 Category now deprecated – tests no longer available (since 2001) for this category. Vehicles now classified by the appropriate group above.[Notes 13]
M Trolley vehicles
N Exempt from duty Normally as per group if not exempt Category now deprecated (since 2001). This category was reserved for vehicles driven for a government department. Neither the issue of the licence nor the testing were carried out by the normal licensing authorities. Each department issued the licence to drive (which was similar in appearance to the pre-1973 dark red licence except that it was light blue in colour). This separate licence was proof that the driver had the proper permission to drive an official vehicle (which was neither insured nor taxed and had no MOT). A prerequisite to passing a driving test (and being granted the licence) for this category was that the driver held a normal full licence appropriate for the type of vehicle being driven (military use excepted). The minimum ages for driving were the same as for the normal licence, except that two types of vehicle (motor-cycles and cars displaying military number plates) could be driven at 16 years of age by a serving member (not a civilian employee) on behalf of one of the armed services.The category was abandoned because all government departments now hire or lease their vehicles from regular suppliers. The armed services also lease standard civilian-supplied vehicles, with only specialist military vehicles being ‘owned’ by the Crown.
Notes
  1. ^ MAM = Maximum authorised mass
  2. ^ Many users of electrically propelled vehicles believe that they are exempt from licensing if they are solely used on the pavement. As they do not feature pedals for propulsion, they require a licence to drive, though nearly all are illegal on the public highway as they are incapable of passing a vehicle test (no braking system among other reasons).
  3. ^ Age 24 or 2 years from date of A2 test pass.
  4. Jump up to:a b At age 16, a licence may be issued if the licensee is in receipt of the higher rate of disability living allowance. However, if the rate is withdrawn, the normal minimum age for driving a car (17 years) applies.
  5. ^ At age 16, a licence may be issued if the licensee is in receipt of the higher rate of disability living allowance. However if the rate is withdrawn, the normal minimum age for driving a car (17 years) applies.
  6. ^ If the driver has passed their category B or B automatic test before 1 January 1997, their licence will already show C1, C1E (8.25 tonnes), D1, D1E (not for hire or reward) as entitlement flowing from the category B.
  7. ^ Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services
  8. ^ Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services; Age 18 if they got their driving licence before 10 September 2009 and the weight of the vehicle and trailer together is under 7,500 kg; Age 18 under certain other circumstances
  9. Jump up to:a b Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services; Age 18 under certain other circumstances
  10. Jump up to:a b c d Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services; Age 18 having passed a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) test before 10 September 2008 and driving under a authorised operator’s licence (O-licence), or minibus permit, or community bus permit and under certain conditions; Age 18 under certain other circumstances; Age 20 after passing a PCV driving test and Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) initial qualification
  11. ^ Age 17 for small road-rollers with metal or hard rollers. They must not be steam powered, weigh more than 11.69 tonnes or be made for carrying loads
  12. ^ Age 17 if the Maximum Authorised Mass of the tracked vehicle doesn’t exceed 3,500 kg
  13. ^ Though curiously: the category still appears on new licences

Obsolete goods classes[edit]

Although the category system was changed over 25 years ago (1 January 1997), the freight industry and driver recruitment agencies still predominantly use the obsolete class numbers for the entitlement of HGV drivers.

The two systems are not exactly compatible, so the descriptions given are only a guideline.

  • Class 1: any goods vehicle over 7½ long tons (7,620 kg or 16,800 lb) with any trailer.
  • Class 2: any rigid goods vehicle over 7½ long tons.
  • Class 3: any rigid goods vehicle over 7½ long tons with no more than two axles.

Points and endorsements[edit]

The UK uses a cumulative points system for driving offences. Points are added for driving offences by law courts or where the driver accepts a fixed penalty in lieu of prosecution, and the licence is endorsed accordingly. This also significantly increases insurance premiums as a driver with penalty points is considered a much higher risk to other road users. A UK driving licence may be endorsed for various offences, not only for those committed while driving or in charge of a vehicle.[51] If the individual committing the offence does not hold a valid driver’s licence the endorsements may be put by until a licence is held.

Most endorsements remain valid for four years; some (such as driving under the influence) are recorded on the licence for 11 years because more severe penalties apply to those convicted twice within 10 years of drink or drug driving offences.

Twelve points on the licence within three years makes the driver liable to disqualification under the “totting-up” procedure; however this is not automatic and must be decided on by a court of law.[52][53] Endorsements remain on the licence for one year longer than their validity (three or ten years) because a court can consider points awarded even though they are not valid for ‘totting up’.

Driving licence codes[edit]

Certain codes are included on driving licences to indicate restrictions on use. These codes are listed on the back of the card under the column headed “12. Codes” and are listed for each category that is licensed.

As long as the UK remained within the EU, the codes 1–99 were the same as in the rest of the EU, harmonized by Directive 2006/126/EC.

The codes and their meanings are as follows:[54]

  • 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 ( licences issued before 28 November 2016)
  • 31 – pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards
  • 32 – combined service brake and accelerator systems
  • 33 – combined service brake, accelerator and steering systems
  • 35 – modified control layouts
  • 40 – modified steering
  • 42 – modified rear-view mirror(s)
  • 43 – modified driving seats
  • 44 – modifications to motorcycles
  • 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 – motorcycles 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 the 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 750 kg, and the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is between 3,500 kg and 4,250 kg
  • 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 kilogrammes
  • 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(s) for vehicle do(es) 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)

Use as proof of identity[edit]

Identity cards for UK nationals were introduced in 2009 on a voluntary basis, and the attempt to introduce a nationwide identity-card scheme in 2010 was reversed mid-course. Its in-progress database was halted and then destroyed.[55] Only workers in certain high-security professions, such as airport workers, were required to have an identity card in 2009, and this remains the case today. Therefore, driving licences, particularly the photocard driving licence introduced in 1998, along with passports, are the most widely used ID documents in the United Kingdom. Most people do not carry their passports with them; this leaves driving licences as the only valid form of ID to be presented. In day-to-day life there is no legal requirement to carry identification whilst driving or otherwise, and most authorities do not arbitrarily ask for identification from individuals.

Non-professional drivers are not legally obliged to carry a driving licence while driving, but section 164 of the Road Traffic Act 1998[56] allows a police officer to require a driver to produce a driving licence within seven days at a police station chosen by the driver. The form which was once issued in such circumstances, the HO/RT 1, was known colloquially as “a producer”, as exemplified in Smiley Culture‘s hit single “Police Officer”.[57]

Exchange agreements[edit]

The UK has an exchange agreement with 22 ‘designated’ countries/regions[58] which allows the holder of a foreign driving licence who is deemed to be resident in the UK to exchange it for a British licence. Initially, there were 18 such countries/regions, but an additional four, namely Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and the Republic of North Macedonia, were added from 20 May 2021.[59] To do such licence exchange, the holder must send the licence, a translation thereof if required, an application form and a fee to the DVLA or DVA (for Northern Ireland).

  • The countries/regions are: Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Republic of North Macedonia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe

Post-Brexit arrangements[edit]

The UK and Ireland have signed a bilateral agreement, allowing those holding a UK driving licence and living in Ireland to continue to be able to swap it for an Irish licence after the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020.[60][61]

The UK and Norway have agreed to continue existing arrangements on mutual recognition of driving licences after Brexit.[62][63][64]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ “s.192 Road Traffic Act 1988 – General Interpretation of Act”. Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  2. Jump up to:a b Asa Bennett (27 January 2020). “How will the Brexit transition period work?”Telegraph.
  3. Jump up to:a b c “New-style driving licences and number plates mark one-year anniversary of Brexit as EU flag is removed”GOV.UK. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  4. Jump up to:a b “INS57P – Information on driving licences” (PDF)Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency.
  5. Jump up to:a b c “New Driving License styles go live this week”NFDA. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  6. ^ “The photocard driving licence explained | nidirect”www.nidirect.gov.uk. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  7. ^ “Provisional Driving Licence”Young Car Driver. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  8. ^ “Direct.gov Motoring”. Direct.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  9. Jump up to:a b “Road Traffic Act 1988 s.89”. Statutelaw.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  10. ^ “Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999 reg. 16” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  11. ^ Motorways Traffic (England and Wales) Regulations 1982 reg. 11 ISBN 0-11-027163-7
  12. ^ “Learner drivers on motorways from 4 June 2018”GOV.UK. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  13. ^ “Motor vehicle documentation learner and restricted driver requirements”. Nidirect.gov.uk. 4 October 2009. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  14. ^ “Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland DVA website” (PDF). doeni.gov.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 August 2012.
  15. ^ “Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995, ss.1 to 4”. Statutelaw.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  16. ^ “Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, s.45(5)”. Statutelaw.gov.uk. 7 January 1992. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  17. ^ “PSNI Newry, Mourne and Down on Facebook”Facebook.
  18. ^ “Towing with a car”Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 6 February 2017.  This content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  19. ^ “The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021”Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  20. ^ “Renew or change a lorry or bus licence [if over 45]”. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  21. ^ “Grandfather rights”. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  22. ^ “Renew your driving licence if you’re 70 or over”. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  23. Jump up to:a b “Licensed to drive”. Motor. 23 May 1970. p. 32.
  24. ^ Mostrous, Alexi (20 December 2007). “81 facts about the Queen”The Times. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  25. ^ Goodfellow, Mollie (3 September 2015). “Queen Elizabeth II to become Britain’s longest reigning monarch: The many things the Queen can do that the rest of us can’t”The Independent. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  26. ^ “UK | Drivers face new photocard licence”BBC News. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  27. ^ “Driving licence changes”Gov.uk. Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. 22 December 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  28. ^ “The photocard driving licence explained”. nidirect.gov.uk. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  29. ^ “Union Flags now feature on British driving licences”. gov.uk. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  30. ^ United Nations, Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic, 15 February 2007
  31. ^ “Chapter XI.B. TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS” (PDF)treaties.un.org.
  32. ^ “PART I CONVENTION ON ROAD TRAFFIC DONE AT VIENNA ON 8 NOVEMBER 1968 (Consolidated version)” (PDF)unece.org.
  33. ^ “Document: GBR-FO-02001”www.consilium.europa.eu. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  34. ^ “EUR-Lex – 31991L0439 – EN – EUR-Lex”eur-lex.europa.eu. Article 2 and Annex 1. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  35. Jump up to:a b “Design of UK Driving Licences after 31 January 2020 – a Freedom of Information request to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency” (PDF). 28 December 2019.
  36. ^ “Convention on Road Traffic Vienna, 8 November 1968: UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND: NOTIFICATION UNDER ARTICLE 45 (4)” (PDF).
  37. ^ “DVLA INF45/1 “Your new Driving Licence” June 2008″ (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  38. ^ “ID checking guidelines for DBS check applications”. 23 October 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  39. ^ Ó Scannáil, Mícheál (23 December 2019). “Explainer: Why Irish citizens are advised to ditch their British driving licence ahead of Brexit”Independent. Ireland. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  40. ^ “Driving in the EU from 1 January 2021: UK licence holders living in the EU”GOV.UK. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  41. Jump up to:a b “Brexit: What are the rules on driving in the EU?”BBC News. 8 July 2021.
  42. ^ “Brexit: What are the rules on driving in the EU after transition?”BBC News. 27 December 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  43. ^ “Visit Europe from 1 January 2021”GOV.UK. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  44. ^ “Driving licence exchange and recognition in the EU”Your Europe. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  45. ^ “You can drive any type of vehicle listed on your full and valid licence – Driving in Great Britain on a non-GB licence – GOV.UK”www.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  46. ^ “Exchanging your foreign driving licence”nidirect. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  47. ^ “Driving licence categories – GOV.UK”www.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  48. ^ “EAPC Rules” (PDF).
  49. ^ “Bike Categories ages and licence requirements – GOV.UK”www.gov.uk. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  50. ^ “New rules for towing a trailer or caravan with a car from autumn 2021”.
  51. ^ “Penalty points (Endorsements)”.
  52. ^ “”Endorsements, penalty points and disqualification”, Direct.gov.uk”. Gov.uk. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  53. ^ “New Driving Laws and What They Mean For Drivers”. absolutereg.co.uk. 6 August 2015.
  54. ^ “Driving licence codes”GOV.UK.
  55. ^ “Applying for Your Provisional Driving Licence – Learner Driver Guide • GoRoadie”.
  56. ^ “Road Traffic Act 1988”. Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  57. ^ “Smiley Culture”.
  58. ^ “Gov.uk”. Exchange a foreign driving licence. Retrieved 29 October 2020
  59. ^ “Exchange of driving licences issued in Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and the Republic of North Macedonia”GOV.UK.
  60. ^ “Bilateral Agreement on Exchange of Driving Licences with UK”www.gov.ie. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  61. ^ “How to Exchange a UK or NI Driving Licence – National Driver Licence Service”www.ndls.ie. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  62. ^ “Driving Licence recognition” (PDF)Royal Norwegian Ministry of Transport.
  63. ^ Samferdselsdepartementet (11 December 2020). “Brexit: Norske og britiske førerkort vil fortsatt være gyldige i begge land”Regjeringen.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  64. ^ Communications, Ministry of Transport and (5 April 2019). “Brexit: Norwegian driving licences will continue to be valid in the UK. Norwegian authorities are seeking to ensure full driver’s rights for holders of UK driving licences in Norway”Government.no. Retrieved 31 December 2020.

UK DRIVING LICENCE

Want to know the ins and outs of the UK driving licence? You’ve come to the right place

As well as being a key form of identification, the UK driving licence gives you the right to drive a car, plus certain types of other vehicles. But as the licence is full of information, codes and categories, you might be after an explainer on both what the front of the driving licence shows, and what the details on the back of a driving licence mean. This guide will explain all this.

Front of the driving licence explained

The front of the driving licence displays a photograph of the licence holder with the licence expiry date printed on top, as well key information about them, and the types of vehicle their licence permits them to drive.

Each section on the front of a driving licence is numbered, with each number showing the following information:

1. Your surname
2. Your first name(s)
3. Your date and country of birth
4a. The date your licence was issued
4b. The date your licence expires
4c. What agency issued your licence (usually DVLA)
5. Your driving licence number*
6. Although not numbered on the licence, your photograph is 6
7. Your signature
8. Your address
9. The categories of vehicle you’re permitted to drive – see next section.

*This is made up of the first five letters of your surname, your birth year, month and day, plus the letters two of your middle names begin with, with the number ‘9’ standing in if you only have one middle name. Note the two numbers that make up your birth year are split in two and bookend the long number, rather than being displayed sequentially. There are also three computer-assigned digits at the end, plus a separate pair of numbers on the same line that represent your licence issue number.

Back of the driving licence explained

A number of categories are displayed on the back of your driving licence, displayed in a table with four columns, labelled 9-12.

Column 9 shows the code and an image representing classes of vehicle
Column 10 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle is valid
Column 11 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle expires
Column 12 shows driving licence codes – EG ‘115’ means organ donor (see section after next).

What are driving licence categories?

While the icons help you work out what vehicles you’re allowed to drive, they might not all be intuitively understandable.

Driving licence categories explained

AM (‘q’ proper to 2013): mopeds capable of at least 15mph and no more than 28mph, and light quadricycles with the same speed requirements, weighing no more than 350kg.
A1: motorcycles under 125cc capacity and 11kW (15hp) of power
A2: motorcycles with no more power than 35kW (47.6hp)
A: motorcycles with more than 35kW
B: cars**
B1: four-wheeled light vehicles (under 550kg)
BE: cars with trailers
C1: medium-sized vehicles weighing 3,500kg to 7,500kg carrying no more than eight passengers
C1E: medium-sized vehicles with trailers
C: large goods vehicles weighing over 3,500kg
CE: large goods vehicles with trailers
D1: minibuses no longer than 8 metres and with no more than 16 seats
D: buses with more than eight seats
D1E: minibuses with trailers over 750kg
DE: buses with trailers over 750kg
f: agricultural tractors
g: roadrollers
h: tracked vehicles
k: ride-on mowers and pedestrian-controlled vehicles

**Category B includes light vans (weighing under 3,500kg) and means different things with regard to towing depending on when you passed your test – see our guide to towing for more information.

What are driving licence codes?

As detailed in the section before one, in addition to driving-licence categories there exist driving-licence codes.

These do not refer to vehicles, but rather certain conditions that can be placed on a person’s driving licence, for one or many of the class of vehicles they can drive. For example a code might indicate you have to wear corrective glasses or lenses to drive, or that you are an organ donor.

The licence codes are as follows (information taken from UK Gov website, multiple codes shown per line to reduce scrolling).

01 – eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses 02 – hearing/communication aid 10 – modified transmission 15 – modified clutch 20 – modified braking systems 25 – modified accelerator systems 30 – combined braking and accelerator systems (for licences issued before 28 November 2016) 31 – pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards 32 – combined service brake and accelerator systems 33 – combined service brake, accelerator and steering 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) – adapted front wheel brake 44 (3) – adapted rear wheel brake 44 (4) – adapted accelerator 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 two feet on the surface at the same time and balance the motorcycle during stopping and standing 44 (11) – adapted foot rest 44 (12) – adapted hand grip 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 (2) – restricted to category AM vehicles of the 3-wheel or light quadricycle type 79 (3) – 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. This does not apply to trial e-scooters 125 – tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)

Driving licence FAQs

Where is the driving licence number?

Your driving licence number can be found on the front of your photocard licence, under section 5.

Where is the issue number of a driving licence?

Your driving-licence issue number is on the same line as your licence number, with a slight space between the two numbers.

What type of driving licence do I have?

There are two main types of driving licence in the UK, full and provisional. A full licence will be pink and a provisional licence will be green, and clearly marked.

Following on from that there are a number of different licence categories, which set out what type of vehicles you are allowed to drive. If you have passed your car driving test you will be allowed to drive cars, which are class B on your driving licence, defined as vehicles with no more than eight passenger seats, and weighing no more than 3,500kg, fully laden.

Are paper driving licences still valid?

If you have a paper driving licence that was issued before March 2000 and the information on it is still correct, it is still valid. If you need to change your name or address, a photocard licence will be issued to replace the paper one, though.

Buy Driving Licence Without Test In UK

Everything You Need to Know About the UK Driving Licence

Beginning from the basics, a UK driving licence is a formal certificate that permits its bearer to handle motorized vehicles on communal roads such as an expressway. Keeping in mind that the United Kingdom is comprised of Northern Ireland and Great Britain, there are two different agencies in charge of issuing driving licenses.

In Northern Ireland, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) is responsible for the issuance of driving licenses. On the other hand, in Great Britain, the administration of licenses is done by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

A driving licence is a mandatory certificate to possess, for any individual driving a vehicle on any public road in the UK.

What are the steps to obtain the driving licence in the UK?

  1. Check if you can drive ( Check what age you can driveRequirements for driving legallyDriving eyesight rules)
  2. Get a provisional driving licence.
  3. Learn to drive and prepare for theory test
  4. Book the theory test (£23, you must have provisional driving licence to book theory test)
  5. Book your driving test (£62 to £75, you must have passed theory test, to book the driving test)
  6. You can start driving as soon as you pass your driving test. You must have an insurance policy that allows you to drive without supervision.

Types Of Driving Licenses

There are multiple kinds of driving licenses in the UK, all falling under different categorizations. However, in this case, we will focus on the standard classification.

1. THE AM CLASS

The AM categorization implies that you can control a vehicle with either two or three wheels. These vehicles move at a speed between 15.5 and 28 miles per hour. In addition to this, these two or three-wheeled motor vehicles should not exceed a weight of 350 kilograms, exclusive of batteries.

2.      THE B CLASS

This classification allows you to drive any sort of motor vehicle. You are allowed to handle cars that bear a maximum authorized mass of 3500 kilograms, with the topmost number of commuter seats being 8. If you possess a driving licence under category B and you are above the age of 21, you can practically control a three-wheeled tricycle with a power volume exceeding 15 kilowatts.

3.      THE F CLASS

This F categorization of driving licenses allows the owner to drive a farming tractor.

4.      THE K CLASS

Possession of a driving license under the K category implies that you are allowed to drive a pedestrian-managed vehicle. Such vehicles are mainly self-moving, a good example being a mower.

5.      THE Q CLASS

This classification of driving licenses authorizes the holder to handle a two-wheeled vehicle whose engine magnitude does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters. Also, this vehicle’s maximum speed should be 15 miles per hour.

How To Obtain a Driving License in The United Kingdom?

Registering for your provisional driving license (initial driving licence that allows you to learn how to drive) requires you to:

  • At least, be 3 months away from turning 16 years old.
  • Possess the ability to read a license plate from a distance of 20 meters.
  • Have lawfully resided in the United Kingdom for a cumulative minimum of 185 days within the past year.
  • Visit official website to learn more.

On the other hand, to obtain a full driving license while in possession of a provisional one, you need to:

How To Renew a Driving License?

Renewal of a driving license is easy, especially if you own an authentic United Kingdom passport. If you would like to renew your license online, you should :

  • Have a legal United Kingdom passport.
  • Be an inhabitant of either Wales, England, or Scotland.
  • Have your present driving license.
  • Have your public insurance numbers.
  • Inscription of your residents for the past 3 years.
  • Make a mobile payment of 14€.

Note that if you are over 70 years old, the application procedure will be different.

For more more information on how to renew licence click here.

Get Driving Licence Today

The UK driving licence explained

Want to know the ins and outs of the UK driving licence? You’ve come to the right place

As well as being a key form of identification, the UK driving licence gives you the right to drive a car, plus certain types of other vehicles. But as the licence is full of information, codes and categories, you might be after an explainer on both what the front of the driving licence shows, and what the details on the back of a driving licence mean. This guide will explain all this.

Front of the driving licence explained

The front of the driving licence displays a photograph of the licence holder with the licence expiry date printed on top, as well key information about them, and the types of vehicle their licence permits them to drive.

Each section on the front of a driving licence is numbered, with each number showing the following information:

1. Your surname
2. Your first name(s)
3. Your date and country of birth
4a. The date your licence was issued
4b. The date your licence expires
4c. What agency issued your licence (usually DVLA)
5. Your driving licence number*
6. Although not numbered on the licence, your photograph is 6
7. Your signature
8. Your address
9. The categories of vehicle you’re permitted to drive – see next section.

*This is made up of the first five letters of your surname, your birth year, month and day, plus the letters two of your middle names begin with, with the number ‘9’ standing in if you only have one middle name. Note the two numbers that make up your birth year are split in two and bookend the long number, rather than being displayed sequentially. There are also three computer-assigned digits at the end, plus a separate pair of numbers on the same line that represent your licence issue number.

Back of the driving licence explained

A number of categories are displayed on the back of your driving licence, displayed in a table with four columns, labelled 9-12.

Column 9 shows the code and an image representing classes of vehicle
Column 10 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle is valid
Column 11 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle expires
Column 12 shows driving licence codes – EG ‘115’ means organ donor (see section after next).

What are driving licence categories?

While the icons help you work out what vehicles you’re allowed to drive, they might not all be intuitively understandable.

Driving licence categories explained

AM (‘q’ proper to 2013): mopeds capable of at least 15mph and no more than 28mph, and light quadricycles with the same speed requirements, weighing no more than 350kg.
A1: motorcycles under 125cc capacity and 11kW (15hp) of power
A2: motorcycles with no more power than 35kW (47.6hp)
A: motorcycles with more than 35kW
B: cars**
B1: four-wheeled light vehicles (under 550kg)
BE: cars with trailers
C1: medium-sized vehicles weighing 3,500kg to 7,500kg carrying no more than eight passengers
C1E: medium-sized vehicles with trailers
C: large goods vehicles weighing over 3,500kg
CE: large goods vehicles with trailers
D1: minibuses no longer than 8 metres and with no more than 16 seats
D: buses with more than eight seats
D1E: minibuses with trailers over 750kg
DE: buses with trailers over 750kg
f: agricultural tractors
g: roadrollers
h: tracked vehicles
k: ride-on mowers and pedestrian-controlled vehicles

**Category B includes light vans (weighing under 3,500kg) and means different things with regard to towing depending on when you passed your test – see our guide to towing for more information.

What are driving licence codes?

As detailed in the section before one, in addition to driving-licence categories there exist driving-licence codes.

These do not refer to vehicles, but rather certain conditions that can be placed on a person’s driving licence, for one or many of the class of vehicles they can drive. For example a code might indicate you have to wear corrective glasses or lenses to drive, or that you are an organ donor.

The licence codes are as follows (information taken from UK Gov website, multiple codes shown per line to reduce scrolling).

01 – eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses 02 – hearing/communication aid 10 – modified transmission 15 – modified clutch 20 – modified braking systems 25 – modified accelerator systems 30 – combined braking and accelerator systems (for licences issued before 28 November 2016) 31 – pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards 32 – combined service brake and accelerator systems 33 – combined service brake, accelerator and steering 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) – adapted front wheel brake 44 (3) – adapted rear wheel brake 44 (4) – adapted accelerator 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 two feet on the surface at the same time and balance the motorcycle during stopping and standing 44 (11) – adapted foot rest 44 (12) – adapted hand grip 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 (2) – restricted to category AM vehicles of the 3-wheel or light quadricycle type 79 (3) – 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. This does not apply to trial e-scooters 125 – tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)

Driving licence FAQs

Where is the driving licence number?

Your driving licence number can be found on the front of your photocard licence, under section 5.

Where is the issue number of a driving licence?

Your driving-licence issue number is on the same line as your licence number, with a slight space between the two numbers.

What type of driving licence do I have?

There are two main types of driving licence in the UK, full and provisional. A full licence will be pink and a provisional licence will be green, and clearly marked.

Following on from that there are a number of different licence categories, which set out what type of vehicles you are allowed to drive. If you have passed your car driving test you will be allowed to drive cars, which are class B on your driving licence, defined as vehicles with no more than eight passenger seats, and weighing no more than 3,500kg, fully laden.

Are paper driving licences still valid?

If you have a paper driving licence that was issued before March 2000 and the information on it is still correct, it is still valid. If you need to change your name or address, a photocard licence will be issued to replace the paper one, though.

Driving in the UK

About Us

Driving in the UK

Anyone driving in the UK must:

  • Have a Valid current DRIVING LICENCE
  • Be covered by INSURANCE
  • Drive a vehicle REGISTERED in the owner’s name
  • Drive a vehicle with valid ROAD TAX (there are some exemptions)

The Immigration and International Student Advice team have produced a guidance sheet to help you plan to drive in the UK.  Additional information on driving in the UK is below. You can find further information on all topics, and additional areas such as riding Mopeds and Motorcycles on the UKCISA Website.

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Want to know the ins and outs of the UK driving licence? You’ve come to the right place

As well as being a key form of identification, the UK driving licence gives you the right to drive a car, plus certain types of other vehicles. But as the licence is full of information, codes and categories, you might be after an explainer on both what the front of the driving licence shows, and what the details on the back of a driving licence mean. This guide will explain all this.

Front of the driving licence explained

The front of the driving licence displays a photograph of the licence holder with the licence expiry date printed on top, as well key information about them, and the types of vehicle their licence permits them to drive.

Each section on the front of a driving licence is numbered, with each number showing the following information:

1. Your surname
2. Your first name(s)
3. Your date and country of birth
4a. The date your licence was issued
4b. The date your licence expires
4c. What agency issued your licence (usually DVLA)
5. Your driving licence number*
6. Although not numbered on the licence, your photograph is 6
7. Your signature
8. Your address
9. The categories of vehicle you’re permitted to drive – see next section.

*This is made up of the first five letters of your surname, your birth year, month and day, plus the letters two of your middle names begin with, with the number ‘9’ standing in if you only have one middle name. Note the two numbers that make up your birth year are split in two and bookend the long number, rather than being displayed sequentially. There are also three computer-assigned digits at the end, plus a separate pair of numbers on the same line that represent your licence issue number.

Back of the driving licence explained

A number of categories are displayed on the back of your driving licence, displayed in a table with four columns, labelled 9-12.

Column 9 shows the code and an image representing classes of vehicle
Column 10 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle is valid
Column 11 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle expires
Column 12 shows driving licence codes – EG ‘115’ means organ donor (see section after next).

What are driving licence categories?

While the icons help you work out what vehicles you’re allowed to drive, they might not all be intuitively understandable.

Driving licence categories explained

AM (‘q’ proper to 2013): mopeds capable of at least 15mph and no more than 28mph, and light quadricycles with the same speed requirements, weighing no more than 350kg.
A1: motorcycles under 125cc capacity and 11kW (15hp) of power
A2: motorcycles with no more power than 35kW (47.6hp)
A: motorcycles with more than 35kW
B: cars**
B1: four-wheeled light vehicles (under 550kg)
BE: cars with trailers
C1: medium-sized vehicles weighing 3,500kg to 7,500kg carrying no more than eight passengers
C1E: medium-sized vehicles with trailers
C: large goods vehicles weighing over 3,500kg
CE: large goods vehicles with trailers
D1: minibuses no longer than 8 metres and with no more than 16 seats
D: buses with more than eight seats
D1E: minibuses with trailers over 750kg
DE: buses with trailers over 750kg
f: agricultural tractors
g: roadrollers
h: tracked vehicles
k: ride-on mowers and pedestrian-controlled vehicles

**Category B includes light vans (weighing under 3,500kg) and means different things with regard to towing depending on when you passed your test – see our guide to towing for more information.

What are driving licence codes?

As detailed in the section before one, in addition to driving-licence categories there exist driving-licence codes.

These do not refer to vehicles, but rather certain conditions that can be placed on a person’s driving licence, for one or many of the class of vehicles they can drive. For example a code might indicate you have to wear corrective glasses or lenses to drive, or that you are an organ donor.

The licence codes are as follows (information taken from UK Gov website, multiple codes shown per line to reduce scrolling).

01 – eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses 02 – hearing/communication aid 10 – modified transmission 15 – modified clutch 20 – modified braking systems 25 – modified accelerator systems 30 – combined braking and accelerator systems (for licences issued before 28 November 2016) 31 – pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards 32 – combined service brake and accelerator systems 33 – combined service brake, accelerator and steering 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) – adapted front wheel brake 44 (3) – adapted rear wheel brake 44 (4) – adapted accelerator 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 two feet on the surface at the same time and balance the motorcycle during stopping and standing 44 (11) – adapted foot rest 44 (12) – adapted hand grip 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 (2) – restricted to category AM vehicles of the 3-wheel or light quadricycle type 79 (3) – 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. This does not apply to trial e-scooters 125 – tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)

Driving licence FAQs

Where is the driving licence number?

Your driving licence number can be found on the front of your photocard licence, under section 5.

Where is the issue number of a driving licence?

Your driving-licence issue number is on the same line as your licence number, with a slight space between the two numbers.

What type of driving licence do I have?

There are two main types of driving licence in the UK, full and provisional. A full licence will be pink and a provisional licence will be green, and clearly marked.

Following on from that there are a number of different licence categories, which set out what type of vehicles you are allowed to drive. If you have passed your car driving test you will be allowed to drive cars, which are class B on your driving licence, defined as vehicles with no more than eight passenger seats, and weighing no more than 3,500kg, fully laden.

Are paper driving licences still valid?

If you have a paper driving licence that was issued before March 2000 and the information on it is still correct, it is still valid. If you need to change your name or address, a photocard licence will be issued to replace the paper one, though.

UK driving licence Without a Test

Want to know the ins and outs of the UK driving licence? You’ve come to the right place

As well as being a key form of identification, the UK driving licence gives you the right to drive a car, plus certain types of other vehicles. But as the licence is full of information, codes and categories, you might be after an explainer on both what the front of the driving licence shows, and what the details on the back of a driving licence mean. This guide will explain all this.

Front of the driving licence explained

The front of the driving licence displays a photograph of the licence holder with the licence expiry date printed on top, as well key information about them, and the types of vehicle their licence permits them to drive.

Each section on the front of a driving licence is numbered, with each number showing the following information:

1. Your surname
2. Your first name(s)
3. Your date and country of birth
4a. The date your licence was issued
4b. The date your licence expires
4c. What agency issued your licence (usually DVLA)
5. Your driving licence number*
6. Although not numbered on the licence, your photograph is 6
7. Your signature
8. Your address
9. The categories of vehicle you’re permitted to drive – see next section.

*This is made up of the first five letters of your surname, your birth year, month and day, plus the letters two of your middle names begin with, with the number ‘9’ standing in if you only have one middle name. Note the two numbers that make up your birth year are split in two and bookend the long number, rather than being displayed sequentially. There are also three computer-assigned digits at the end, plus a separate pair of numbers on the same line that represent your licence issue number.

Back of the driving licence explained

A number of categories are displayed on the back of your driving licence, displayed in a table with four columns, labelled 9-12.

Column 9 shows the code and an image representing classes of vehicle
Column 10 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle is valid
Column 11 is date from which your licence for that class of vehicle expires
Column 12 shows driving licence codes – EG ‘115’ means organ donor (see section after next).

What are driving licence categories?

While the icons help you work out what vehicles you’re allowed to drive, they might not all be intuitively understandable.

Driving licence categories explained

AM (‘q’ proper to 2013): mopeds capable of at least 15mph and no more than 28mph, and light quadricycles with the same speed requirements, weighing no more than 350kg.
A1: motorcycles under 125cc capacity and 11kW (15hp) of power
A2: motorcycles with no more power than 35kW (47.6hp)
A: motorcycles with more than 35kW
B: cars**
B1: four-wheeled light vehicles (under 550kg)
BE: cars with trailers
C1: medium-sized vehicles weighing 3,500kg to 7,500kg carrying no more than eight passengers
C1E: medium-sized vehicles with trailers
C: large goods vehicles weighing over 3,500kg
CE: large goods vehicles with trailers
D1: minibuses no longer than 8 metres and with no more than 16 seats
D: buses with more than eight seats
D1E: minibuses with trailers over 750kg
DE: buses with trailers over 750kg
f: agricultural tractors
g: roadrollers
h: tracked vehicles
k: ride-on mowers and pedestrian-controlled vehicles

**Category B includes light vans (weighing under 3,500kg) and means different things with regard to towing depending on when you passed your test – see our guide to towing for more information.

What are driving licence codes?

As detailed in the section before one, in addition to driving-licence categories there exist driving-licence codes.

These do not refer to vehicles, but rather certain conditions that can be placed on a person’s driving licence, for one or many of the class of vehicles they can drive. For example a code might indicate you have to wear corrective glasses or lenses to drive, or that you are an organ donor.

The licence codes are as follows (information taken from UK Gov website, multiple codes shown per line to reduce scrolling).

01 – eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses 02 – hearing/communication aid 10 – modified transmission 15 – modified clutch 20 – modified braking systems 25 – modified accelerator systems 30 – combined braking and accelerator systems (for licences issued before 28 November 2016) 31 – pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards 32 – combined service brake and accelerator systems 33 – combined service brake, accelerator and steering 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) – adapted front wheel brake 44 (3) – adapted rear wheel brake 44 (4) – adapted accelerator 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 two feet on the surface at the same time and balance the motorcycle during stopping and standing 44 (11) – adapted foot rest 44 (12) – adapted hand grip 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 (2) – restricted to category AM vehicles of the 3-wheel or light quadricycle type 79 (3) – 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. This does not apply to trial e-scooters 125 – tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)

Driving licence FAQs

Where is the driving licence number?

Your driving licence number can be found on the front of your photocard licence, under section 5.

Where is the issue number of a driving licence?

Your driving-licence issue number is on the same line as your licence number, with a slight space between the two numbers.

What type of driving licence do I have?

There are two main types of driving licence in the UK, full and provisional. A full licence will be pink and a provisional licence will be green, and clearly marked.

Following on from that there are a number of different licence categories, which set out what type of vehicles you are allowed to drive. If you have passed your car driving test you will be allowed to drive cars, which are class B on your driving licence, defined as vehicles with no more than eight passenger seats, and weighing no more than 3,500kg, fully laden.

Are paper driving licences still valid?

If you have a paper driving licence that was issued before March 2000 and the information on it is still correct, it is still valid. If you need to change your name or address, a photocard licence will be issued to replace the paper one, though.

UK Driving Licence And categories

Driving licence codes and categories explained

Driving licence codes and categories explained  17th Dec 2021

 It’s easy to overlook the small print on our driving licences, not to mention the letters and numbers that fill the table at the back of our photocards.However random they might seem, these characters tell us a lot about the types of vehicles we can drive and much more. That’s why we’ve decided to break it all down to help you better understand driving licence codes and driving licence categories. Read on to help make sense of them all.

What are driving licence codes and categories?

The seemingly random letters and numbers on driving licences can be split into two groups:

  • Driving licence categories given in letters or a combination of letters and numbers e.g. ‘C’ and ‘C1’. These tell us which vehicles we’re allowed to drive.
  • Driving licence codes given in numbers only e.g. ‘01’ and ‘79(2)’. These tell us the conditions a driver should meet to drive. For example, ‘01’ is a common code indicating someone needs glasses or contact lenses to drive.

Find the full list of driving licence codes on the gov.uk website.

Driving licences explained

driving-licence-codes-photocard The easiest way to see which categories your licence covers is to look at section nine of your photocard. Found on the front of the card, this section shows driving licence categories represented by letters separated by commas or slashes. Capital letters refer to categories recognised across Europe, while lower case letters refer to national categories. On the back of your driving licence, you’ll notice a table with three columns:

  • Column 9 shows types of vehicles you can drive
  • Column 10 shows the licence start date
  • Column 11 shows the licence end date
  • Column 12 shows driving licence codes

What driving licence categories apply to cars?

B

Category B can mean one of two things depending on when you passed your test. If you passed before 1 January 1997, you’re allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 8,250kg. You can also drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM. See categories D1 and D1E for more on minibus categories. If you passed your test on or after 1 January 1997, you can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats and with a trailer up to 750kg. You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is no more than 3,500kg. Category B licences also allow you to drive motor tricycles with a power output higher than 15kW if you are over 21 years old.

B auto

This one’s simple, you can drive any of the vehicles included in Category B but only with an automatic transmission.

BE

The BE category currently appears on drivers’ licences if the holder has passed a car and trailer driving test. However, the DVLA hopes to change the law so this test isn’t needed and all new photocard licences will include the category. Drivers who passed their test from 1 January 1997 face tighter towing restrictions until these rules change. New rules were originally scheduled for 15 November 2021 and are likely to come into force in the near future. Keep an eye on the gov.uk website for more details.

B1

This category appears next to the image of a small van on the back of your licence. It means that you can drive a vehicle with ‘4 wheels up to 400kg unladen or 550kg if they’re designed for carrying goods.’ We’ve included it here as the code features on all licences when drivers have passed a standard test.

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What driving licence categories apply to vans and lorries?

driving-licence-codes-vans

C

Category C refers to large goods vehicles, meaning you can drive anything over 3,500 kg (with a trailer up to 750kg MAM). To get a Category C licence you’ll need a full car driving licence and to apply for a provisional lorry licence. If your doctor decides you’re healthy enough to drive a larger vehicle, you can then take the four-part CPC (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence) test.

CE

Almost identical to Category C but you can also tow a trailer over 750kg.

C1

C1 is a little more restrictive than a Category C, as it only lets you drive vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg MAM (with a trailer up to 750kg).

C1E

Category C1E drivers can drive C1 vehicles with a trailer over 750kg. The combined weight of both cannot exceed 12,000kg.

What driving licence categories apply to motorbikes?

A

Holders of a Category A licence are allowed to drive any bike of any sized engine. The licence is only available to riders aged 24 and over, or 21 and over if you’ve held an A2 licence for two years. You need to have completed your compulsory basic training (CBT) and passed a theory and practical test.

A1

Category A1 riders can drive light motorbikes with an engine up to 125cc and a power output up to 11kW. The category also allows riders to use motor tricycles with a power output up to 15kW. Riders need to be 17 or over to take a test and must complete their compulsory basic training (CBT) and have passed a theory test and practical test.

A2

Category A2 is a step up from A1 and lets licence holders ride bikes up to 35kW. Bikes can’t be derived from a vehicle more than double its power and you need to be 19 years old to apply for a test.

AM

The AM category applies to mopeds rather than motorbikes. It allows a licence holder to drive two-wheeled or three-wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of 28mph. It also allows riders to use light quad bikes with the same max speed and unladen mass of 350kg (not including batteries if it’s an electric vehicle). To get an AM licence you’ll need to be at least 16 years old, to have a valid CBT certificate and to pass the motorbike theory test and two-module practical test.

p

Another moped category, the letter p appears in italics and lower case on photocard licences to show that the holder can drive two-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 28mph but no more than 31 mph. Engines must be no more powerful than 50cc and the category appears on all standard full driving licences.

q

Category q lets licence holders drive two and three-wheeled vehicles without pedals if the engine size is no more than 50cc and the maximum design speed doesn’t exceed 15.5mph. The category also includes e-scooters.

What other driving licence categories are there?

Other categories include:

  • D – You can drive any bus with 8 passenger seats and a trailer up to 750kg.
  • D1 – You can drive minibuses with no more than 16 passenger seats, a maximum length of 8 metres and a trailer up to 750kg.
  • D1E – You can drive D1 minibuses with the option to tow a trailer over 750kg. The combined weight cannot exceed 12,000kg.
  • f – agricultural tractors
  • G – Road roller
  • H – Tracked vehicles
  • k – Mowing machine or pedestrian-controlled vehicles
  • l – Electrically-propelled vehicles
  • M – Trolley vehicles
  • n – Exempt from duty

UK driving licence

Driving licence in the United Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • UK Driving Licence
  • Trwydded Yrru

Example of a driving licence issued in Great Britain after December 2021

Example of a driving licence issued in Northern Ireland after December 2021
Type Driving licence
Issued by United Kingdom
Purpose Authorisation
Expiration
  • Provisional and full photocard licences are valid for 10 years.
  • Paper licences issued before 1998 valid until 70 years old (If no change in name or address)
Cost Provisional:
£34/£43 (online/postal) (GB), £62.50 (Northern Ireland)

Renewal:

£14/£17 (online/postal) (GB),
£30 (Northern Ireland)

In the United Kingdom, a driving licence is the official document which authorises its holder to operate motor vehicles on highways and other public roads. It is administered in England, Scotland and Wales by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and in Northern Ireland by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA). A driving licence is required in England, Scotland, and Wales for any person (except the sovereign[citation needed]) driving a vehicle on any highway or other “road”, as defined in s.192 Road Traffic Act 1988,[1] irrespective of the ownership of the land over which the road passes. Similar requirements apply in Northern Ireland under the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

Prior to the UK leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020 and during the transition period which ended on 31 December 2020, a UK driving licence was a European driving licence,[2] adhering to Directive 2006/126/EC and valid throughout the European Economic Area. A new updated design has been issued from January 2021, now simply reading “UK” in larger blue letters, where the EU flag with the circle of stars surrounding the “UK” code used to be.[3][4]

Since July 2015, all UK driving licence photocards issued by the DVLA have displayed the Union Flag, and since December 2021[5] also the Royal Coat of Arms on the front of the driving licence. This does not apply to driving licences issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland.[6]

As UK nationals do not normally have identity cards, a photographic driving licence can serve many of the purposes of an identity card in non-driving contexts, such as proof of identity (e.g. when opening a bank account) or of age (e.g. when buying age-restricted goods such as alcohol or tobacco).

Regulations[edit]

Provisional licences and learner drivers[edit]

Example of a provisional driving licence issued in Great Britain after December 2021
Example of a provisional driving licence issued in Northern Ireland after December 2021

Applications for a provisional driving licence can be made in Great Britain from the age of 15 years and 9 months and in Northern Ireland from 16 years and 10 months. Once a United Kingdom driving test has been passed, the driving licence is valid for driving a moped or light quad bike from age 16, and a car from age 17, or 16 for those who receive, or have applied for, the higher or enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP or DLA.[7][8] A driving test consists of three sections: theory, hazard perception and a driving examination. Until this test has been passed, a driver may hold only a provisional licence[9] and is subject to certain conditions. The conditions attached to provisional licences for a particular category of vehicle are:[10]

L plate
L plate
D plate (Wales)
D plate (Wales)
Learner driver plates in the UK
  • L-plates or D-plates (in Wales only) (WelshDysgwr, “learner”) must be conspicuously displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • Learner drivers of a particular category and transmission type of vehicle must be accompanied by somebody aged 21 or above who has held a full driving licence for that category and transmission type for at least three years, except in the case of solo motorcycles and vehicles of certain categories designed solely for one person.
  • No trailer may be towed, except when driving a tractor or where a full licence gives provisional entitlement to drive a car with trailer, large goods vehicle with trailer or passenger carrying vehicle with trailer.
  • Motorcycle riders must not carry any pillion passengers.
  • Coach or bus drivers must not carry any passenger except a person giving or receiving instruction.
  • Motorways must not be used by holders of car and motorcycle provisional licences,[11] excluding category B (car) licence holders who are learner drivers for the purposes of the trailer category BE, or unless supervised by an Approved Driving Instructor in a car fitted with dual controls.[12]

In Northern Ireland, learner drivers are limited to a speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) and are not permitted on motorways regardless of whether or not they are under instruction by an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor), and drivers who have passed their test within the previous year must display R plates (restricted) and are also limited to a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) until the expiry of the restricted period. R plates are similar in style to L plates, with a thick-set dark orange R displayed on a white background and most L plates have the orange R on the reverse side.[13]

After passing a driving test, the provisional licence may be surrendered within two years in exchange for a full UK licence[9] for the relevant kind of vehicle. Full car licences allow use of mopeds and motorcycles provided a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course is completed (the requirement to have a CBT in Northern Ireland was introduced on 21 February 2011).[14]

Newly qualified drivers[edit]

R plate that must be displayed by restricted drivers in Northern Ireland
P plates that some new drivers choose to display in Great Britain

There are currently no restrictions on newly qualified drivers in England, Wales or Scotland; however if a newly qualified driver receives six penalty points within two years of passing, the licence is automatically revoked and the driver must pass the full test again; this also applies in Northern Ireland.[15] These six points remain on the new licence until their designated expiry time.[16]

In Great Britain, some new drivers may display green “P” plates (“probationary”) on their vehicle to alert other drivers that they have recently passed their driving test. This is optional and not a legal requirement and may be displayed for as long as desired. P plates are not commonly used in Northern Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, new drivers must display orange “R” plates for 1 year after passing the test, and are limited to a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km/h). This is a legal requirement and failure to display R plates results in 2 penalty points and a fine.[17] These drivers are known as restricted drivers.

In the Isle of Man (a UK Crown dependency), new drivers must display “R” plates similar to those in Northern Ireland, but red, for 1 year after passing the test, and are limited to a maximum speed of 50 mph (80 km/h).

Towing restrictions[edit]

The rules on what a driver can tow are different depending on when they passed their driving test. If they passed their car driving test on or after 1 January 1997, they may drive a car or van up to 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750 kg (1,650 lb) MAM, and they may tow a trailer over 750 kg (1,650 lb) MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) MAM when loaded. They must pass the car and trailer driving test to tow anything heavier. If a driver passed their car test before 1 January 1997, they are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg (18,190 lb) MAM. They are also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750 kg (1,650 lb) MAM.[18]

On 16 September 2021, the Secretary of State for Transport laid a statutory instrument [19] to retrospectively grant the B+E (car and trailer) entitlement to all category B licence holders. From 15 November 2021, all standard car licence holders will be able to tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500 kg (7,700 lb). An additional legislative change from the 16th December 2021 also means that drivers with B (Car) entitlement will automatically have B+E (Car & Trailer) entitlement without the need to take a B+E test. This will allow you to tow a vehicle up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).

Other regulations[edit]

Motor car licences issued in the United Kingdom distinguish between automatic and manual transmission vehicles, depending on whether or not a driving test was passed in a vehicle with manual transmission (unless a vehicle test was taken in the UK before such distinction was made). While a manual transmission vehicle licence permits the holder to drive a vehicle of either kind, an automatic transmission vehicle licence is solely for vehicles with automatic transmission. The licence also shows whether a driver requires glasses or contact lenses to meet the legal driving requirements, if known.

Drivers who obtained rights to drive category D1 minibuses before 1997 (by passing a test for the obsolete class A) must not drive such vehicles for hire or reward, nor accept any form of payment in money, goods or kind from any passengers carried.

Category B licences automatically cover both groups C1 (lorries not exceeding 7.5 tomnnes MAM) and D1 but as the holder approaches 45, they must renew their licence. They must provide a doctor’s medical report plus an optometrist’s report (if the doctor cannot certify the eyesight requirement).[20] Anyone who has C1 and D1 rights on an older paper licence (before the photocard licence) retains the right to drive C1 and D1 without medical evidence until age 70 (so called:grandfather rights).[21] Though like any responsible driver, should have regular eye checks.

There is no maximum age for driving or holding a driving licence, but holders must renew their licences at age 70 and every three years thereafter, at which times they must provide evidence of a medical exam and separate eyesight test if the right to drive C1 and D1 vehicles is to be retained.[22]

History[edit]

Driver registration was introduced in 1903 with the Motor Car Act. Holders of the sulphur-yellow coloured document were entitled to “drive a motor car or motor cycle”.[23] The wording was changed in 1930 after which holders were allowed to “drive or steer a motor car or to drive a motor cycle”. Shortly afterwards, the document cover was changed to a dark red colour. Holders were for a period entitled to drive a vehicle of “any class or description”.[23] Subsequent changes saw the document list precisely those vehicle types for which holders were licensed.

Competency tests were introduced by the Motor Vehicles Regulations 1935 applicable to all drivers who started driving after 1 April 1934. Competency tests were suspended in 1939 for seven years due to the Second World War and in 1956 for one year due to the Suez Crisis. The only person in the United Kingdom who is not required to have a driving licence in order to drive is the King.[24][25]

Until 1973, driving licences (and tax discs) were issued by local authorities and had to be renewed every three years. In 1971, the decision was taken to computerise the licensing system to enable it to be linked to the Police National Computer and to extend the life of the licence up to the driver’s 70th birthday, extendable at intervals thereafter provided the driver can prove fitness.

Except for Northern Ireland, driving licences issued before July 1998 did not have photographs on them.[26] Anyone who holds a licence issued before this date may retain their photo-less licence until expiry (normally one’s seventieth birthday) or until they change address, whichever comes sooner. The new plastic photocard driving licences have to be renewed every ten years, for a fee. Until 2015, the licence consisted of both the photocard and a paper counterpart which detailed the individual’s driving entitlements and convictions (“endorsements“). The counterpart was abolished on 8 June 2015[27] and the information formerly recorded on it is now available online via the View Driving Licence service, except in Northern Ireland where the counterpart must be kept with the photocard.[28]

Licences issued to residents of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland appear only in English, while those issued to residents of Wales appear in both English and Welsh. The Union Flag has been included on GB licences since July 2015, but not on Northern Ireland licences.[29] Since December 2021 the Royal Coat of Arms is included on GB licences.[5]

British driving licences followed the same format as this German licence until the transition period ended.

Up until 28 September 2021, the distinguishing sign of the United Kingdom was “GB”.[30] The allocation of codes is maintained by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, authorised by the UN’s Geneva Convention on Road Traffic[31] and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.[32] The UK is party to both conventions, and shall hence issue licences in conformity with the conventions. Annex 9 of the Geneva convention states that the distinguishing sign (UK) shall be inscribed in an oval. According to the Vienna convention Article 43 domestic licences have to comply with Annex 6, which says that driving licences shall include the name and/or the distinguishing sign of the country which issued the permit. UK licences did include the “GB” distinguishing code until 1990.[33]

Example of a driving licence issued in Great Britain between January 2021 and December 2021

In Directive 91/439/EEC which EU Member States had to implement before 1 July 1994, the UK had to include the emblem of the EU with the code “UK”,[34] instead of “GB” encircled by an ellipse on the front page. As the UK has subsequently withdrawn from the EU, the EU flag is no longer featured on UK driving licences issued after the transition period ended on 31 December 2020.[35] The “GB” code or the ellipse from the aforementioned conventions have not been reintroduced, since January 2021, the licences simply reads “UK” in larger blue letters where the EU flag with the circle of stars surrounding the “UK” code used to be.[3][4]

On 30 June 2021 the United Nations published a notification stating that the United Kingdom had given three months notification that it intended to change its distinguishing sign from “GB” to “UK”. This came into effect on 28 September 2021.[36]

Since December 2021, new driving licence styles were introduced. Changes were made to all versions of the GB driving licence cards and includes:[5]

  • The Union Flag has been moved to the top right corner
  • The Royal Coat of Arms is included on the front
  • The driver number is left justified and in line with the other text
  • A secondary image of the licence holder is located on the front
  • Colour shifting ink (OVI design) has been reinstated and updated to the back of the licence
  • New hologram has been added

The same changes apply to all versions of the Northern Ireland driving licence, excluding the Union Flag and Royal Coat of Arms.

Driver numbers[edit]

Great Britain[edit]

Each licence holder in England, Scotland and Wales has a unique driver number, which is 18 characters long. The characters are constructed in the following way:[37]

  • 1–5: The first five characters of the surname (padded with 9s if fewer than 5 characters). For surnames beginning with “MAC”, they are treated as “MC” for all.[38]
  • 6: The decade digit from the year of birth (e.g. for 1987 it would be 8)
  • 7–8: The month of birth in two digit format (7th character is incremented by 5 if the driver is female i.e. 51–62 instead of 01–12)
  • 9–10: The date within the month of the day of birth in two digit format (i.e. 01–31)
  • 11: The year digit from the year of birth (e.g. for 1987 it would be 7)
  • 12–13: The first initial of the first and middle name, padded with a 9 if no middle name (e.g. for John Doe Smith JD, for Jane Smith J9)
  • 14: Arbitrary digit – usually 9, but decremented to differentiate drivers with the first 13 characters in common
  • 15–16: Two computer check digits which may be letters.
  • 17–18: Two digits representing the licence issue, which increases by 1 for each licence issued.[dubious ]Not used on previous paper licences.

Northern Ireland[edit]

Driver numbers in Northern Ireland differ from those issued to drivers in GB.

Each Northern Ireland licence holder is assigned a unique, 8 digit driving licence number, e.g. 12345678. This number is assigned randomly and in no specific order.

Brexit[edit]

The EEA (blue and green)

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, starting an 11-month transition period which terminated on 31 December 2020 in accordance with the Brexit withdrawal agreement.[2] EU law continued to apply to the UK during the transition period, and hence UK driving licences were valid in the EEA and vice versa until 31 December 2020. UK licence holders living in the EU were advised to exchange their UK driving licence for a local one before the transition period ended.[39][40][41] The EU flag was removed from UK driving licences when the transition period ended.[3][35]

From 1 January 2021, with some exceptions, UK licence holders can use their driving licence when visiting EEA countries.[42][43] International Driving Permits might be needed in some cases, and depending on which convention the country in question has ratified, a 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic IDP might be required in some countries, and a 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic IDP in others. However, none of the EEA countries currently require IDPs for visitors staying shorter than 12 months.[41] EEA countries are no longer obligated to recognise or exchange UK licences if the holder moves to an EEA country, except if the UK has agreed a bilateral agreement with the country.[44]

European driving licences are recognised by the UK if the driving test was passed in an EU/EEA country, and can be used both if the holder is visiting or residing in the country. They can also be exchanged for a UK (both GB and NI) licence.[45][46]

Driving licence categories[edit]

Current categories[edit]

This is a list of the categories that might be found on a driving licence in the United Kingdom.[47]

Category Vehicle type Minimum age Notes[Notes 1]
AM Mopeds 16 2-wheeled or 3-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 15.5 mph (25 km/h) but not more than 28 mph (45 km/h).This category also includes light quadricycles with an unladen mass of not more than 350 kg (not including batteries if it is an electric vehicle) and a maximum design speed of over 15.5 mph (25 km/h) but not more than 28 mph (45 km/h).

Electrically propelled pedal cycles (with 2 or 3 wheels) are exempt from the requirement for a licence provided they conform to the EPAC rules, although there is a minimum age of 14. Such vehicles must be equipped with pedals by means of which the vehicle is capable of being propelled. If there are no pedals, then a moped licence is required.[Notes 2] Electrically assisted scooters are considered to be electrically assisted only if they conform to certain additional EPAC rules, otherwise a licence is required.[48]

P Mopeds 16 Motor vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels with a maximum design speed of over 28 mph (45 km/h) but not more than 31 mph (50 km/h). The vehicle’s engine size must not be more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine.
Q Mopeds 16 Motor vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels which, if propelled by an internal combustion engine, have a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cc and, if not equipped with pedals by means of which the vehicle is capable of being propelled, have a maximum design speed not exceeding 15.5 mph (25 km/h).
A1 Motorcycles 17 Light motorbicycles with an engine size up to 125 cc, a power output of up to 11 kW (14.75 hp), and a power to weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW/kg (136.2 hp/ton). This category also includes motor tricycles with power output up to 15 kW (20.1 hp).A practical training without exam is needed for B licence holders (Compulsory Basic Training).
A2 Motorcycles 19 Motorbicycles in category A1, as well as motorbicycles with a power output up to 35 kW (46.9 hp) and power to weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW/kg (272.5 hp/ton). The motorcycle must also not be derived from a vehicle of more than double its power.[49]
A Motorcycles 24[Notes 3] Motorcycles in categories A1 and A2, as well as motorcycles with a power output more than 35 kW (46.9 hp) or a power to weight ratio more than 0.2 kW/kg (272.5 hp/ton) and motor tricycles with a power output more than 15 kW (20.1 hp).B licence holders who are at least 21 years of age are allowed to drive motor tricycles, including three-wheeled motorcycles with a power exceeding 15 kilowatts (20 hp).
B1 Light vehicles and quadricycles 17[Notes 4] Motor vehicles with 4 wheels up to 400 kg unladen, or 550 kg if they are designed for carrying goods.
B Cars 17[Notes 5] Full licence obtained before 1 January 1997:

  • A vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).
  • A minibus with a trailer over 750 kg MAM.

Full licence obtained after 31 December 1996:

  • Vehicles up to 3,500 kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750 kg). Also covers heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500 kg.
  • Motor tricycles with a power output higher than 15 kW if driver 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.
B auto Cars 17[Notes 4] Same as Category B, but only automatic transmission.
BE Cars 17[Notes 6] A vehicle with a MAM of 3,500 kg with a trailer. The size of the trailer depends on the BE ‘valid from’ date shown on the licence. If the date is before 19 January 2013, the vehicle can tow any size trailer. If the date is on or after 19 January 2013, the vehicle can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500 kg.From 15 November 2021, BE will be granted to all category B licence holders. No category BE tests will take place after 20 September 2021.[50]
C1 Medium-sized vehicles 18[Notes 7] Vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500 kg MAM (with a trailer up to 750 kg).
C1E Medium-sized vehicles 21[Notes 8] C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg. The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000 kg.
C Large vehicles 18[Notes 9] Vehicles over 7,500 kg (with a trailer up to 750 kg MAM).
CE Large vehicles 18[Notes 9] Category C vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg.
D1 Minibuses 21[Notes 10] Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats, a maximum length of 8 metres, and a trailer up to 750 kg. See also Category B.
D1E Minibuses 18[Notes 10] D1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg MAM. The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000 kg.
D Buses 18[Notes 10] Any bus with more than 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750 kg MAM).
DE Buses 18[Notes 10] D category vehicles with a trailer over 750 kg.
F Agricultural tractor 16 Maximum weight with trailer = 24 390 kg. Age 16 for tractors less than 2.45m wide. It must only pull trailers less than 2.45 m (96 in) wide with two wheels, or four close-coupled.
G Road roller 18[Notes 11]
H Tracked vehicles 18[Notes 12]
K Mowing machine or pedestrian-controlled vehicle 16
L Electrically-propelled vehicle 17 Category now deprecated – tests no longer available (since 2001) for this category. Vehicles now classified by the appropriate group above.[Notes 13]
M Trolley vehicles
N Exempt from duty Normally as per group if not exempt Category now deprecated (since 2001). This category was reserved for vehicles driven for a government department. Neither the issue of the licence nor the testing were carried out by the normal licensing authorities. Each department issued the licence to drive (which was similar in appearance to the pre-1973 dark red licence except that it was light blue in colour). This separate licence was proof that the driver had the proper permission to drive an official vehicle (which was neither insured nor taxed and had no MOT). A prerequisite to passing a driving test (and being granted the licence) for this category was that the driver held a normal full licence appropriate for the type of vehicle being driven (military use excepted). The minimum ages for driving were the same as for the normal licence, except that two types of vehicle (motor-cycles and cars displaying military number plates) could be driven at 16 years of age by a serving member (not a civilian employee) on behalf of one of the armed services.The category was abandoned because all government departments now hire or lease their vehicles from regular suppliers. The armed services also lease standard civilian-supplied vehicles, with only specialist military vehicles being ‘owned’ by the Crown.
Notes
  1. ^ MAM = Maximum authorised mass
  2. ^ Many users of electrically propelled vehicles believe that they are exempt from licensing if they are solely used on the pavement. As they do not feature pedals for propulsion, they require a licence to drive, though nearly all are illegal on the public highway as they are incapable of passing a vehicle test (no braking system among other reasons).
  3. ^ Age 24 or 2 years from date of A2 test pass.
  4. Jump up to:a b At age 16, a licence may be issued if the licensee is in receipt of the higher rate of disability living allowance. However, if the rate is withdrawn, the normal minimum age for driving a car (17 years) applies.
  5. ^ At age 16, a licence may be issued if the licensee is in receipt of the higher rate of disability living allowance. However if the rate is withdrawn, the normal minimum age for driving a car (17 years) applies.
  6. ^ If the driver has passed their category B or B automatic test before 1 January 1997, their licence will already show C1, C1E (8.25 tonnes), D1, D1E (not for hire or reward) as entitlement flowing from the category B.
  7. ^ Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services
  8. ^ Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services; Age 18 if they got their driving licence before 10 September 2009 and the weight of the vehicle and trailer together is under 7,500 kg; Age 18 under certain other circumstances
  9. Jump up to:a b Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services; Age 18 under certain other circumstances
  10. Jump up to:a b c d Age 17 if the driver is a member of the armed services; Age 18 having passed a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) test before 10 September 2008 and driving under a authorised operator’s licence (O-licence), or minibus permit, or community bus permit and under certain conditions; Age 18 under certain other circumstances; Age 20 after passing a PCV driving test and Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) initial qualification
  11. ^ Age 17 for small road-rollers with metal or hard rollers. They must not be steam powered, weigh more than 11.69 tonnes or be made for carrying loads
  12. ^ Age 17 if the Maximum Authorised Mass of the tracked vehicle doesn’t exceed 3,500 kg
  13. ^ Though curiously: the category still appears on new licences

Obsolete goods classes[edit]

Although the category system was changed over 25 years ago (1 January 1997), the freight industry and driver recruitment agencies still predominantly use the obsolete class numbers for the entitlement of HGV drivers.

The two systems are not exactly compatible, so the descriptions given are only a guideline.

  • Class 1: any goods vehicle over 7½ long tons (7,620 kg or 16,800 lb) with any trailer.
  • Class 2: any rigid goods vehicle over 7½ long tons.
  • Class 3: any rigid goods vehicle over 7½ long tons with no more than two axles.

Points and endorsements[edit]

The UK uses a cumulative points system for driving offences. Points are added for driving offences by law courts or where the driver accepts a fixed penalty in lieu of prosecution, and the licence is endorsed accordingly. This also significantly increases insurance premiums as a driver with penalty points is considered a much higher risk to other road users. A UK driving licence may be endorsed for various offences, not only for those committed while driving or in charge of a vehicle.[51] If the individual committing the offence does not hold a valid driver’s licence the endorsements may be put by until a licence is held.

Most endorsements remain valid for four years; some (such as driving under the influence) are recorded on the licence for 11 years because more severe penalties apply to those convicted twice within 10 years of drink or drug driving offences.

Twelve points on the licence within three years makes the driver liable to disqualification under the “totting-up” procedure; however this is not automatic and must be decided on by a court of law.[52][53] Endorsements remain on the licence for one year longer than their validity (three or ten years) because a court can consider points awarded even though they are not valid for ‘totting up’.

Driving licence codes[edit]

Certain codes are included on driving licences to indicate restrictions on use. These codes are listed on the back of the card under the column headed “12. Codes” and are listed for each category that is licensed.

As long as the UK remained within the EU, the codes 1–99 were the same as in the rest of the EU, harmonized by Directive 2006/126/EC.

The codes and their meanings are as follows:[54]

  • 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 ( licences issued before 28 November 2016)
  • 31 – pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards
  • 32 – combined service brake and accelerator systems
  • 33 – combined service brake, accelerator and steering systems
  • 35 – modified control layouts
  • 40 – modified steering
  • 42 – modified rear-view mirror(s)
  • 43 – modified driving seats
  • 44 – modifications to motorcycles
  • 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 – motorcycles 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 the 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 750 kg, and the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is between 3,500 kg and 4,250 kg
  • 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 kilogrammes
  • 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(s) for vehicle do(es) 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)

Use as proof of identity[edit]

Identity cards for UK nationals were introduced in 2009 on a voluntary basis, and the attempt to introduce a nationwide identity-card scheme in 2010 was reversed mid-course. Its in-progress database was halted and then destroyed.[55] Only workers in certain high-security professions, such as airport workers, were required to have an identity card in 2009, and this remains the case today. Therefore, driving licences, particularly the photocard driving licence introduced in 1998, along with passports, are the most widely used ID documents in the United Kingdom. Most people do not carry their passports with them; this leaves driving licences as the only valid form of ID to be presented. In day-to-day life there is no legal requirement to carry identification whilst driving or otherwise, and most authorities do not arbitrarily ask for identification from individuals.

Non-professional drivers are not legally obliged to carry a driving licence while driving, but section 164 of the Road Traffic Act 1998[56] allows a police officer to require a driver to produce a driving licence within seven days at a police station chosen by the driver. The form which was once issued in such circumstances, the HO/RT 1, was known colloquially as “a producer”, as exemplified in Smiley Culture‘s hit single “Police Officer”.[57]

Exchange agreements[edit]

The UK has an exchange agreement with 22 ‘designated’ countries/regions[58] which allows the holder of a foreign driving licence who is deemed to be resident in the UK to exchange it for a British licence. Initially, there were 18 such countries/regions, but an additional four, namely Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and the Republic of North Macedonia, were added from 20 May 2021.[59] To do such licence exchange, the holder must send the licence, a translation thereof if required, an application form and a fee to the DVLA or DVA (for Northern Ireland).

  • The countries/regions are: Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Republic of North Macedonia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe

Post-Brexit arrangements[edit]

The UK and Ireland have signed a bilateral agreement, allowing those holding a UK driving licence and living in Ireland to continue to be able to swap it for an Irish licence after the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020.[60][61]

The UK and Norway have agreed to continue existing arrangements on mutual recognition of driving licences after Brexit.[62][63][64]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ “s.192 Road Traffic Act 1988 – General Interpretation of Act”. Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  2. Jump up to:a b Asa Bennett (27 January 2020). “How will the Brexit transition period work?”Telegraph.
  3. Jump up to:a b c “New-style driving licences and number plates mark one-year anniversary of Brexit as EU flag is removed”GOV.UK. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  4. Jump up to:a b “INS57P – Information on driving licences” (PDF)Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency.
  5. Jump up to:a b c “New Driving License styles go live this week”NFDA. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
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