Preparing for your driving test can be nerve-wracking, but there is usually less pressure than there is this year. If we failed pre-COVID, we could just book in for another two weeks’ time and try again. Coming out of a pandemic that put the world to a halt and has driven driving test waiting lists up to around four or five months as everyone races to ditch their L plates after months of no driving lessons.

According to This is Money, 420,000 people have already booked in for driving tests with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Those who were booked in for driving tests when lockdown rules were reintroduced saw their slots cancelled – frustratingly, learners could have seen their tests cancelled more than once. Not only is there a long waiting list for practical tests, but roughly 380,000 people are waiting for their theory test too. Fortunately, the DVSA is working to increase testing capacity and increase examiner recruitment by 300 people so more people can have their test and to lower the waiting time.[LD1] 

How much does it cost to learn to drive?

Are you looking to start learning? Or did you start your lessons before lockdown and had to put them on hold? Learning to drive can come with a hefty price tag when you factor in licence applications, lessons, theory and practical test cost, and learner driver insurance, but the pandemic could drive costs up, too.

Licence application

Firstly, you’ll be spending around £34 for applying for a provisional licence online (£43 if you apply by post – save your money and apply online here). Fortunately, licence photocards last for 10 years, so you don’t need to worry about renewing an expired one very often.

Driving lessons

Next, you’ll need driving lessons. But how many, and at what cost? Everyone is different – some people get the hang of driving quicker than others. But on average, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), 47 lessons are needed before a test. Based on estimates, the average driving lesson costs around £24 an hour, totalling £1,128 give or take.

As learners have had to stop and start their lessons due to COVID-19, they may need refresher lessons. [AH2] 

Fay McFarlane, 23-year-old senior outreach executive from Sunderland, commented: “I feel de-motivated to learn again. Now I’ve decided to focus solely on the theory test; however, that still costs money and if I fail my theory the first time, I may need to wait even longer to try again, so this is adding extra pressure onto passing that I wouldn’t normally have.”

If you have the means, you can be named as a driver to a family or friend’s car to get extra practice without forking out for additional lessons. They must accompany you when you practise, they must be over the age of 21, and they must have held an EU or UK driving licence for at least three years. Learner driver insurance options are cheap and can be either short term or annual policies, ranging anywhere from 28 days. This won’t affect the insurance holder’s existing policy or no claims discount.[AH3] 

Darren Hedley, Marketing Manager at Collingwood Insurance Services, said: “Without a doubt the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns has had a huge impact on both learner drivers and driving instructors.” 

Darren continued: “The increased wait time for learner drivers will certainly be frustrating, but we would urge any learner driver to use the time to practise learning their manoeuvres and increasing their confidence behind the wheel before their practical test.” 

Test cost

Your theory will cost £23 and a weekday practical test costs £62. For driving tests on weekends and evenings, these are bumped up to £75. If you don’t have your own car nor insured on a family members’ car, you’ll need to use your driving instructor’s, which will be the cost of an hour’s lesson. In total, this adds at most £122.

If you passed your practical test and it expired, add another £23 to this total.

Driving licence application£34
Hourly driving lesson cost (cost of 51 lessons)£24 (£1,224)
Theory test£23
Weekend/evening driving test£75

The rough total you’d pay, taking into account additional refresher lessons a month before your test would be £1,356. If you need to retake your theory due to expiration, it could be £1,379.

Although it might be disheartening stopping and starting driving lessons, it’s important that you brush up on your skills so you’re a confident and experienced driver.


 [LD1]Couldn’t find data on how many theory tests have expired.

 [AH2]As per client comment, a plug here would look too advertorial, which puts placements off.

 [AH3]RE: client comment, again, a plug would be too advertorial.

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