Learner drivers forced to spend more than £1,200 to get their licence

Learner drivers spend more than £1,200 getting their licence, new data has revealed.

As driving schools see a surge in people seeking lessons and hundreds of thousands of candidates struggle to secure a test date, new research has put a price on getting that all-important pink plastic card.

Between paying for lessons, practical and theory tests, a provisional licence and more, learners spend an average of £1,278 getting their full licence.

Tim Alcock from LeaseVan.co.uk, which conducted the research said: “It’s a special moment for any learner driver when passing the practical driving test and sending off for a driving licence. But from finding lessons to preparing for the test and understanding what’s expected, it can be a complicated and expensive process.

“Everybody learns at different rates and the number of lessons needed can differ based on age, frequency of lessons, extra driving practice and learning style. It’s so important to remember that everyone is different and learning to drive is a process that requires patience and perseverance. But even if a learner driver manages to pass their test first time, earning the privilege to be on British road can cost upwards of £1,200.”

Breaking down the costs

Provisional Licence

The provisional licence costs £34 for online applications to £43 for postal applications.


Taking driving lessons will undoubtedly be the most costly part of learning to drive. According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the average learner driver needs 47 lessons before they pass their test. And on average, lessons cost around £24 each, making up £1,128 of the total cost

Test costs

A theory test costs £23 for cars, and the standard practical driving test costs £62. If you sit your test in the evening or on a weekend or bank holidays, it will set you back £75.

Plus, if you’re using your instructor’s car, you’ll need to pay for their time as well, which is the equivalent of another hour’s lesson.

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Extra costs

There are also costs for additional revision such as a driving test success app like the DVSA one costing £4.99, and a Highway Code book costing £2.

Although not included in the calculation, adding yourself as a named driver to a family car is a great way of gaining extra practice, and this can vary from short-term additional cover from two hours through to 90 days. This means learners can legally drive in a family or friend’s car without affecting their existing policy. According to Confused.com, this can cost just £8.42 for 3 hours or £59.69 for one week's cover.

You'll need to factor in the cost of using your instructor's car for the practical test (Photo: Shutterstock)

How to save money

There are some ways you can cut your costs of learning without compromising.

If you can, try practising in a family car with a suitably qualified driver (they must be over 21 and have held a full licence for at least three years). This will give you more experience without the hourly rate of a lesson.

Block book lessons and look for introductory offers. Many driving schools offer discounts when you book your first lessons or if you book a number of lessons at the same time so see what offers are available near you.

There are a number of websites and apps that allow you to sit practice theory tests before the real thing, including the official DVSA website, which also includes mock hazard perception tests. Practising beforehand will help test your knowledge and ensure you’re ready to sit the test

If needed, intensive driving courses are also an option where you can learn to drive in under a week or two, and this can often work out quicker and cheaper than spreading lessons over several months.

Once you’ve gained your licence there’s then the inevitable costs of running a car so take a look at our lists of the cheapest new cars to buy and insure.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site The Scotsman