How to Book a Driving Test – A Complete Guide

Learning to drive can be such and involved process that goes beyond practicing manoeuvres and navigating the road. Whether you’ve just turned 17 and are keen to pass your test as quickly as possible or are potentially older and are taking the learning stage at a steady pace in your free time, you will at some point be faced with booking your practical driving test.

There can be a lot to think about – when to book, where to take the test, how much it will cost and even the basics like how to go about booking it.  In this guide we will cover topics like these, as well as a few practical tips on dealing with hurdles you might face during the process.

When should you book your driving test?

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one straight forward answer to this question in terms of your driving timeline, but the main advice on this is to take the test WHEN YOU ARE READY! There is no sense in booking your driving test without knowing or at least gauging how prepared you will be when it comes to the date.

Given the fact that there can be high waiting times for driving tests on a national scale, it may tempt you to book your driving test well in advance to try and beat the queue. It is advisable, however, to get some significant practice on the roads, and have your driving instructor give you an indication of how many lessons they think you may need before being test ready.

You will also need to pass your theory test in advance of booking your main practical driving test.

Where should you take your driving test?

As mentioned previously, the average waiting times for driving tests can be lengthy. In some areas of the UK, the wait can be as low as 9 weeks and others up to 24 weeks. It is worth finding out what the waiting times are like at your local test centre and perhaps a few further afield to judge if it would be worth booking a test in a different location.

Keep in mind that you may not be familiar with the area, and this could possibly affect how you perform during your test.

You can read more on Driving Test Waiting Times to help make a more informed decision on when and where to book your test.

How much does it cost to take the practical driving test?

In the UK, the practical driving test for cars costs £62. This amount is different for motorcycles and other vehicles, or extended tests for disqualified drivers. Details on this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/driving-test-cost

What is the process for booking the practical driving test?

So now you have the basics down, and you are ready to book your test, lets go through the technical aspect of how to complete this task.

To start with, if you live in Great Britain, you must have lived in England, Wales or Scotland for at least 185 days in the last 12 months before the day you take your test.

If you live in Northern Ireland, the online booking system can be found through the DVA (Driver & Vehicle Agency) who are the governing body for driving tests. The process is very similar to the rest of the UK.

Before you start the booking process, you will need your:

  • UK driving licence number
  • Theory test pass number
  • Credit or debit card
  • Driving instructor’s personal reference number if you want to check they’re available

You can book your driving test either online or over the phone. If booking online you can follow do this through the DVSA booking system where you just need to follow the instructions and complete the fields to advance through each stage of the booking.

  • First, you will need to select the type of driving test you require (i.e. car – either automatic or manual), state whether you have any special requirements and enter your driving licence number.
  • Next you will be asked to enter your theory test number. This will be found on the written confirmation after you pass.
  • You will then be asked to provide the date you would like to book your test for, with an option to check that your chosen date does not clash with your driving instructor’s schedule by giving their reference number.
  • Following this, you be directed to search for your chosen driving test centre and check availability for your preferred date and time.
  • Finally, you will need to enter your personal details and payment information to confirm the booking. You will then receive a confirmation email with your test details and payment receipt.

If you choose to book your test over the phone, you just need to call the DVSA’s booking service on 0300 200 1122 between the hours of 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday. You will need to have the same information as above to complete your booking. Confirmation will still be emailed to you.

Can you change your driving test date once booked?

Once you have booked your driving test, you are fully responsible for the management of this booking and turning up on the day so you don’t incur any unnecessary costs. However, we all know that life doesn’t always go to plan and changing your test date may become unavoidable.

You must give at least 3 full working days’ notice to change your test date or you will have to pay to book it again. Be aware that Sundays and Bank Holidays do not count as working days.

There are instances of illness or injury, bereavement, exams at school or college, or theft of your driving licence that may occur in this time, known as “unavoidable short term cancellations”. You will need to contact the DVSA with as much proof as you can that you’ve had an unavoidable instance in order to receive a refund.

If you are changing your test date to find an earlier test, a later date or a different test centre; when in advance of the 3 working days before your original test, you can change your booking up to 6 times. After this, you will have to pay to rebook your test.

If you are looking to find an earlier test, rather than swapping and changing through the DVSA, it can be worth looking into driving test cancellations and signing up to receive instant notifications of more suitable dates at test centres of your choice. This service automatically searches for you, so you don’t have to spend your free time going through the DVSA website process time and time again.

So, now you are in the know about booking a driving test, this is the time to start preparing for the big day! Keep pushing forward with those driving lessons, keep refreshing yourself on the theory aspect even after you have passed, as this will keep the knowledge fresh in your mind, and spend time learning about what will happen on the day of the test. This will all be invaluable information to help get you on the road quickly and safely.