Many individuals wishing to gain a UK driving licence are often unaware of the long driving test wait times at many of the DVSA driving test centres. Problems arise when an individual needs a full UK licence quickly due to work commitments for example.
There is no certainty for reducing test waiting times, although there are methods that can be used that is likely to reduce test waiting times, possibly by several weeks. This section explains the ideal approach to organising a test and the options available to reduce driving test wait times.
Driving test centre wait times
Driving test wait times vary considerably on the location of the driving test centre. Generally, driving test wait times vary from a few days up to 12 or more weeks.
In rural locations such as certain test centres in Scotland for example, these have the shortest test waiting times.
London test centres due to the highest population density is often the worst offender at 12 or more weeks. As a general rule, if your location has a high density of people, it is likely to have higher driving test waiting times.
Although the DVSA employ more driving examiners in higher population areas, test centres have a limited capacity for the amount of tests that can be conducted during a day due to a test centres size. It’s also dependent on daylight hours as tests are only conducted during these times. Fewer test are conducted during the winter periods for this reason.
Staggered test times can allow for an increase in driving tests conducted in a single day. This method allows test candidates to arrive and to park in the limited parking areas whilst other candidates are out on test. There is a ‘time window’ that needs to be employed in such situations. Arriving for a driving test no more than 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment will eliminate the possibility of clashing with other test candidates returning from their test.
Planning a driving test
If you are taking driving lessons with a driving instructor, your instructor should have knowledge of the driving test wait times in your area. After the initial few driving lessons, discuss the waiting duration for tests, an appropriate course of lessons and at which point you should book your driving test to avoid waiting times. Remember, you must have taken and passed the theory test before you can book a practical driving test.
If you are a resident or visiting the UK, have an international driving permit and have driving experience it is likely you will need very few driving lessons to reach test standard. If this situation applies to you, you will first need to take and pass the theory test and once this is passed, you are entitled to book a practical driving test.
As you will have 12 months driving entitlement on your international driving permit, it’s important that you pass the UK practical driving test before the 12 months expire. The current DVSA practical driving test waiting times for all test centres can be found here, and will become available as you book your test.
Earlier driving test dates
To get an earlier driving test date, you will initially need to book the soonest driving test appointment that is available. Once this is booked, you can check for test cancellations and take that slot. This can reduce the driving test waiting time by several weeks. Sometimes earlier test appointments can become available due to extra driving examiners being drafted in to reduce driving test waiting times. To find an earlier driving test appointment, there are two options available:
Earlier driving test online
Driving tests can be cancelled, moved to a later date or take an earlier date if available. If you wish to find an earlier test appointment, it is recommended that the website is checked frequently as test slots are quickly taken.
Earlier driving test by phone
It is also possible to contact the DVSA by telephone to find earlier driving test appointments. This is an automated speech recognition service and is the same contact number for making test bookings. Listen to the available options to enable the correct service. This service is available from 6.00am to midnight, 7 days a week. At hand, you will need your theory test certificate number and your driving test booking reference number. The various DVSA contact methods for finding an earlier driving test booking can be found in the learning to drive section.
Driving test wait times in winter
Fewer driving tests may be conducted in the winter months due to fewer daylight hours. This may increase the waiting times for tests. Many driving tests are also cancelled during the winter months. Driving tests are frequently cancelled by the DVSA due to snow, frost or ice on the roads and occasionally bad fog.
If your driving test is cancelled by the DVSA, you will be automatically booked into the next available slot for that particular test centre. This may increase your test waiting times by several weeks. If booking your driving test during the winter months, opt for a test appointment later in the day. Afternoon tests are much more likely to go ahead than early mornings. See Cancelled driving tests due to bad weather for further information.
Just before and during college holidays often sees an increase in test bookings, also affecting waiting times.
Driving test waiting times
For a up to date list of all driving test waiting times, visit the DVSA website. Listed are all available driving test centres with their current driving test wait times.
Intensive driving courses
Certain driving schools offer short notice intensive courses often taken over a single week, with a driving test scheduled at the end. Although this can be a faster approach to passing the driving test, it can often come at a price, plus not everyone is suitable for intensive courses. See intensive crash courses for further details.