A Guide to Getting Started

Let the preparation begin-start learning to drive now!

Sweet 17 and raring to go!

To start learning to drive you need to be at least 17 years old, which is the minimum age that you can legally drive a car on public roads in the UK. You can apply for your provisional licence three months before your 17th birthday and if you’re disabled and receiving mobility allowance you can start at the age of 16.

A provisional licence is a prerequisite for every wannabe learner driver:

Before you can start learning to drive, you need to obtain a provisional licence from the Driving and licensing Agency (DVLA). To apply for a provisional licence, complete forms DL1 and DL750 available from any Post Office or you can apply online through Britannia Driving Schools.

Learning to drive as a British national, you will need to enclose two passport-size colour photographs, proof of your identity and a fee of £50 when you submit the forms. The DVLA aims to deliver your licence in about 3 weeks. More details will be with the application form or on the Britannia Driving Schools website. Different rules apply if you are an EU citizen or have come from outside the EU. Check with DVLA for details.

When applying for your provisional driving licence-before you start learning to drive-from the DVLA you should let them know if you have:

  • Any visual condition which affects both eyes (not including short or long sight or colour blindness)
  • Any visual condition which affects sight (not including short or long sight or colour blindness), for example, if you have sight in one eye only.

If you have had sight correction surgery you should declare this when you apply for your provisional licence. This will not stop you from learning to drive, but it is necessary information.

I have eyes only for you… Mr DSA Examiner:

As you know, learning to drive involves taking a practical driving test. Before you get into the car the examiner will ask you to read a number plate on a vehicle. If it’s one with an old-style number plate the required distance is 20.5 meters (about 67 feet). Number plates with a narrower font, such as the new-style number plates introduced in 2001, need to be read from a distance of 20 meters (66 feet) and are easily identifiable, they start with two letters e.g. AB51 ABC. If you wear glasses or contact lenses to do this, you’ll be expected to keep them on during the test.

Test your eyesight for FREE-before you start learning to drive-courtesy of the Britannia driving School’s Eyetest Simulator.

“L” plates are essential for every wannabe learner driver on wheels:

As a learner driver you have to display “L” plates in a visible place on the front and rear of the car you’re driving. Until the day you pass the practical part of the driving test you’ll have to display these and drive with someone who has passed their test, but they must be over 21 years old and have held a full British driving licence for at least 3 years.

When you start learning to drive, you’re responsible for making sure that any vehicle you drive is legal, roadworthy and properly taxed. When you learn to drive with Britannia, you can be sure that all these things are taken care of, so you can have stress free driving lessons.

When you’re paying for lessons, the insurance should be covered by the driving school, as it is at Britannia Driving Schools. If you’re practising with friends or family, it is your responsibility to make sure you’re covered on their insurance policy.

One step ahead:

Some essential reading, like the Highway Code, is a great place to start before you start learning to drive. Also start to practice your driving theory and hazard perception for FREE on our website and boost your skills and improve your chances of passing both the Theory and Hazard Test. You’ll find a range of materials designed to make learning as easy as possible in the Britannia Driving School’s Merchandise Store

Buying your first Car:

Learn to drive-learn to buy a car. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to buy your first car while you are learning to drive. Once you have actually passed both your theory and practical tests you will have the enjoyment of buying a car and getting on the road immediately. Some learner drivers prefer their own cars, but most use the school’s cars for driving lessons and the driving test.

You need a budget:

So, you’ve worked out how much learning to drive is going to cost you. Now you need to budget some more. Include in your expected outlay service, tax and insurance. The last two will be higher if you’re a new driver. Allow at least £1000 to get a car on the road. While you’re learning to drive, work out a rough budget of how much it’s going to cost you to run the car once the initial outlay has been made.

Consider the planet:

Learning to drive includes questions on eco-driving. Give some thought to fuel efficiency. Not only is this good for the environment, but with the cost of fuel rising all the time, it makes economic sense. See our section on eco-driving for useful tips.

Buyers beware:

Once people know you are learning to drive and intend buying a car, they will tell you plenty of horror stories about used and second-hand cars. Don’t be put off, just use your common sense and research. You will be more protected by a recognised dealer, who will charge a higher price but includes after-sales service and extra warranty, but you can still get a good deal from a private sale. Just make sure you double-check that the documents match the car. Take someone with you, to do a test drive, and get an insurance quote for the model you want so that you can factor it into your budget. Another option is a car auction-again, there are good deals to be had, but take someone with you who knows what to look for, and have a check-list. When you learn to drive, you learn lots of other things too!


Learn to drive also means learning about tax. Everyone has to pay this, although it does depend on the size of the car and what kind of fuel it uses. The present government is trying to bring in cheaper tax rates for eco-friendly cars, so it’s worth checking this out.


As a new driver, and particularly if you are under 25, expect to pay around £500 for comprehensive insurance. However, it’s a competitive market, so do shop around. Remember too, that if you take “Pass Plus” within a year passing your test, some insurers will offer you a good deal.

Learning to drive should be fun – and is well worth the effort before and after the driving test!”

Britannia Driving School’s friendly staff are fully trained and experienced to deal with every aspect of your learn to drive queries. Use their expertise. They love to be asked!