Driving licences

This chapter focuses on driving licence requirements, primarily for goods vehicles (category C and C1), plus information on medical circumstances, licence application and testing.

Updates for 2023:

  • Notification of consultation on driver licensing to grant drivers with a category B entitlement additional entitlement to category C1(7.5t).

  • Notification of consultation on the current alternatively fuelled vehicle derogation to consider whether to remove the additional training, reform the training requirement or leave the requirement as it is now.

  • Most common codes on driving licences. 


Download the Driver licensing chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law


  • Driver licences

    • Employer responsibilities.

    • A brief history of driver licensing in the GB.

    • Removal of the counterpart.

    • Ordinary and vocational licensing.

  • Driving licence categories.
    • Driving licence categories you might see on older licences.

    • Ordinary licences.

      • Key entitlements with car tests.

      • Probationary period.

      • Vehicles up to 3.5t and trailers.

      • Vehicles over 3.5t up to 7.5t.

      • Vehicles over 3.5t up to 7.5t with a trailer. 

      • Trailer weights.

      • Vocational licences.

        • Entitlements of vocational licence holders, qualified before 1 June 1990.

      • Other LGV entitlements.

        • Vehicles on tow.

        • Solo tractor units.

        • Large passenger carrying vehicles driven by a category C licence holder.

      • Driver restricted to an automatic vehicle.

      • Driving licence code definitions.

      • Exemptions from LGV licensing.

      • Category B concession for alternatively fuelled vehicles.

      • Licence application.

        • Previous offences.

        • Licence renewal.

        • Additional information for drivers who need to keep their driving licence.

        • Additional requirements.

      • Photocard driving licences.

      • Photographs.

      • Photocard 10-yearly renewals.

        • Adding a test pass – photocard licence holders.

      • Age limits.

      • Cost and duration of licences.

      • Five-yearly licence validity.

      • Lost, defaced and exchange licences.

      • Medical reports and conditions.

        • Insulin-treated diabetes.

        • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS).

        • Eyesight standards.

      • Provisional vocational licences, drivers’ hours and training.

      • Production of licence.

      • Suspension or revocation.

      • DVLA licence checking services.

        • Online driver licence checking (View My Licence).

        • Share My Licence.

        • Check Driver Licence.

        • Access to Driver Data Service (ADD).

        • Licence checking for non-UK vocational licence holders.

  • Driving in Great Britain as a visitor or new resident.

    • European Community/European Economic Area.

    • Switzerland.

    • Northern Ireland.

    • Gibraltar and other designated countries.

    • Vocational designated licence holders.

    • Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man.

    • All other countries.

  • Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications.

  • HGV driving test.

    • The test vehicle.

    • Minimum test vehicle requirements.

    • Real total mass.

    • Staged testing.

    • The practical test.

    • Theory testing.

    • Manoeuvring exercise reversing (Module 3a).

    • Uncoupling and recoupling (Module 3a).

    • Braking exercise.

    • Waiting periods for retest before reapplying.

    • Mandatory licence presentation.

    • Failure and retest.

    • The ‘L’ plate.

    • Refund of fee.

Download the Driver licensing chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law

The Motor Car Act 1903 first introduced...

...measures to help identify both vehicles and their drivers. Today over 32 million driving licences are held in Great Britain, which are administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) part of the Department for Transport. Over the years many changes have been introduced in an effort to streamline the licensing system. In 1976 the first ‘til 70’ ordinary driving licence was introduced whilst in more recent years further changes have come about via a number of European directives that were designed to harmonise the levels if skill required by drivers entitled to use differing sizes of vehicle and to introduce a single model driving licence recognised across Europe.

Also covered in this section is Driver CPC or Certificate of Professional Competence. This system aims to maintain a high level of driving standards for vocational licence entitlement holders across Europe. The qualification and training covers operational subjects such as fuel efficiency, customer care and compliance with drivers’ hours or working time.