How Long Does the Theory Test Last

A theory test certificate is valid for two years from the date it was passed. Although this may initially seem like a long time, it can take some learner drivers many months of driving lessons to reach test standard.

There is of course the possibility of then failing a driving test and having to re book another test. Certain driving test centres can have very long test waiting times of well over two months. Once you have passed the theory test, it is often best to start driving lessons right away.

This will give you plenty of time to reach test standard and to take any test waiting times and test failures into account. Better still, start learning to drive as soon as you have your provisional driving licence. You do not need to have passed your theory test before you can start learning to drive.

Theory test expiry

If you have not passed the practical driving test within two years of passing your theory test, your theory test certificate will expire and you will need to book and pass the theory test again.

Theory test certificate
You theory test certificate lasts for 2 years

This will of course involve further expense for the test and if within the two years the theory test has been modified by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), it may require new study materials to be purchased. If you have a valid theory pass that is due to expire, you can book and retake your theory test before your current version expires.

Booking a practical driving test when the theory test certificate is due to expire

When booking a practical driving test, you are required to enter your theory test pass number. If booking online, you will be presented with a list of available driving test dates and times for your chosen test centre The DVSA’s database will know when your theory test certificate expires and as a result, will only show you available driving test dates up to the expiry date of your theory test certificate.

Considering that certain driving test centres have long waiting times for tests, this can be problematic if your theory test is nearing its expiry. This may possibly result in you having to book a driving test at a test centre that has a shorter waiting time.

If your theory test is due to expire and you are struggling to find a practical driving test date, you will need to either use another driving test centre (not recommended if you are not familiar with the driving test routes) or look for a cancellation.

Driving Test Cancellations

It is possible to get a short notice driving test by looking for test slots that other people have cancelled. Looking for driving test cancellations may take time and will require frequent checks of the DVSA website. See further details on booking a practical driving test in the learning to drive section.

If you intend on booking a test in an area you are not familiar with, gain familiarity with the driving test routes or better still, take a few lessons with a driving instructor as they will know all the challenging areas.

Lost theory certificate number

To book a practical driving test you will need your theory test certificate number. See lost theory certificate for further details on contacting the DVSA in such an event.

48 thoughts on “How Long Does the Theory Test Last”

  1. jeanette byatt

    i am enquiring on behalf of my grandson, he passed his theory nearly two yrs ago which means its nearly up he had a car accident which meant he couldnt drive for 10 months so he is now on his last driving test, does he have to wait until his theory test is up or can he take it again before its up, also how many are you allowed to take i.e. one a week, two a week as he had 4 attemps last time and we still need to keep booking his driving test so he needs it pretty soon

  2. Hello Jeanette,
    Your grandson can take as many practical driving tests as he likes before his theory test certificate expires. Once the theory has expired, he will need to take and pass the theory test again before he is permitted to book another practical driving test. Though he can take as many driving tests as he wishes, he has to wait a minimum of 10 working days before each test, though it can be booked sooner than this.

  3. Antony

    My theory test was done on the 21st of October 2015. Can I still apply in October of this year before the 21st comes again?

  4. Hello Antony,
    Yes you can book and take your theory test before your current test expires.

  5. Gillian

    if you fail to pass your test within the two year period can you still drive whilst waiting to resit your theory test Gillian

  6. Hello Gillian,
    Yes you can! Being entitled to drive is related to your driving licence and not the theory test. So providing you have a valid licence, you can continue to learn to drive.

  7. lubna

    My theory is expiring on the 29th of october can I book a thoery test before the 29th or do I have to book it after the 29th of october, please help…..

  8. Hello Lubna,
    You can book and retake a new theory test before your current theory expires.

  9. Natasha

    If your theory runs out before the practical and then you resit the theory etc, does that then put your insurance once your passed your practical up?

  10. Hello Natasha,
    Failing the theory test (no matter how many times) will have no effect on your insurance either as a learner or a full licence holder. What does make a difference is the practical test and passing. Once passed, you are legally licensed to drive on your own without a supervising passenger. As a newly qualified driver with little experience, insurance companies see this as a substantial risk and so your insurance will increase once you pass the test.

  11. Aslam khan

    My theory test is expired in October 18 and I want to do the cbt course so what can I do now pls advise me thanks .

  12. Hello Aslam,
    You can take the CBT course with or without passing the theory test, but you will need to have passed the theory test before taking a motorcycle test. You will also have to pass your full moped or motorcycle test within 2 years, else you’ll have to complete CBT again or stop riding.

  13. Jane

    I can only get my driving test on the 14th but my theory is up on the 11th does this mean a resit

  14. Hello Jane,
    The online booking system doesn’t allow for tests to be booked after the date of your theory test expiry. So unfortunately you will have to resit the theory test if you cannot get a practical test booking before the expiry.

  15. Alison

    i passed my theory test almost two years ago- my certificate runs out at the end of April.. I’ve booked to resit my theory test next week.. if I fail this will my old certificate still be valid up until the end of April? As I have a practical test booked.

  16. Katie

    Hello, I have passed my theory test this week but my provisional license expires in July. I am hoping to pass my practical before then, but if I don’t, will I have to take another theory test for my new provisional license or does it carry on for any provisional license until its expiry date?

  17. Hello Katie,
    No you wont have to take it again, it will remain valid for two years from the pass date.

  18. sam


    I have passed the theory test last week but my provisional license expires in couple of weeks. Do I need to renew my provisional license before booking for practical test?
    Sorry for a daft question. Thanks!

  19. Hello Sam,
    As long as you have a valid licence, you can book your driving test, but the system may prevent you from booking a test beyond the point at which your licence expires. So it might be worth getting it renewed ASAP.

  20. Zac

    Hi, can I take a driving test on the 14th August if I took and passed the theory test on that date 2 years ago?

  21. Anslem

    My theory expires in a month I cant find a space on dvla for another test what shall I do?

  22. Hi Anslem,
    All you can do is keep checking as frequently as possible for cancellations that may arise. If you would be willing to travel to alternative theory test centres, this would also increase your chances of finding a slot.

  23. Hector

    I have a Philippine drivers license, do i have to take a theory test, or Can I drive already here Ireland

  24. Hello Hector,
    If you are a visitor to Ireland, you can drive for up to 12 months on your Philippine driving licence provided it is full and valid. There’s no requirement to take the theory test.

  25. Hector

    Thanks for the Info and quick response, by the way Im residing here in Dublin, for 6 years and with Stamp 4 not a visitor, my Philippine Drivers License expire in the year 2024, and you said I can drive here in Dublin Ireland for 12 months only, can I drive more than 12 months or more, and do I have to apply a learner permit

  26. Being a resident, the Philippines is not designated country in which they have an exchange program, so yes, you will have to apply for a learner driver’s licence, take the theory test and the practical driving test.

  27. Hector

    How many hours or time limit to take a
    theory online test

  28. There’s no online version, you need to attend a designated test centre. The first multiple choice part allows you up to 57 minutes to complete, follow by a hazard perception test which requires you to spot hazards in videos. The multiple choice section allows you to complete it faster if you wish.

  29. Charlie Stewart

    I am a casworker for Navendu Mishra M.P. fpr Stockport. A constituent has been in touch because her theory test expires in August, she has had two practical driving tests cancelled during the Covid-19 lockdown. She now faces the expense and stress of another theory test. As the government offered a six month extension of the car MOT test the constituent wonders why the same has not been offered for the Theory Test Certificate. I can provide more details if anyone wishes to contact me by email.

  30. Karina

    In reply to Charlie Stewart.

    Hello, the question is on behalf my friend. Her theory test expires on 14th january 2021 but there are no available dates for driving tests in the area due to pandemic, do you know if the theory expiry dates will be extended?

  31. Liam

    Hello. Was wondering do u have to retake your theory test after getting banned on a provisional licence , even if u have 1 year left on theory certificate ,

  32. Hi Liam,
    You only have to resit tests if this was decided upon by the court as part of your disqualification. It’s usually just the driving test that must be retaken, but the specifics are determined by the court. If you’re not sure on the specifics on your situation, you can either contact the DVLA or the convicting court directly.

  33. Adul Azeez

    I have passed all the the other test except rta road test. But now my theory test period of 2 years has expired. Can i take direct road test again after renewing theory test?

  34. Hi Abdul.
    The Driving Test Tips website generally provides information for the UK theory and driving test. We don’t have any knowledge on theory and driving tests in the UAE I’m afraid.

  35. Emelia

    What if your dates to take a theory exam is expired and you wanted to take an exam. What should I do?

  36. Hi Emelia,
    If you mean that your theory test has expired and you want to take a driving test, you’ll need to take and pass the theory test again before the system will enable you to book a driving test.

  37. E. A

    Of I did my theory test on 22nd June 2020. Will the certificate expire on 22nd June 2022 or 22nd May?

  38. Amber McSparron

    Does your theory pass still last for 2 years or is it longer now since covid? It’s so hard to get dates

  39. Hi Amber,
    The DVSA GB never did extend the theory test. In terms of Northern Ireland, you can contact the DVA Northern Ireland for specific information regarding your theory test extension.

  40. Alex

    Hello so my question is. So if my theory expires on the day of 20th of September can I still book a driving test on that day or i won’t be eligible to take my driving test because my theory expired?
    So like can I still pass my practical on the same day or is it before that day that I have to pass?

  41. Hi Alex,
    So if your theory test expires on the 20th September, it’ll be valid until 12:00pm. You’ll be able to take a driving test on the 20th September, but not on the 21st of September, unless of course you’ve retaken and passed your theory test before that date.

  42. Alex

    Unfortunately, I had my practical today and was unsuccessful and I’m planning to book another one on the day of 20th of September. Thanks for the information, so in reality, i can still pass on 20th? is that right?

  43. That’s unfortunate Alex, yes you can, the system will allow you to book a test up to the expiry date, though that does of course depend on whether there are any dates available before then. Good luck on your next test.

  44. James Moreland

    Hi I passed my theory 2003 and have a full license
    Since then do I have to pass a theory again to do my
    Bike license?

  45. Hi James,

    Yes, even though you have a car licence, you’ll need to pass a motorcycle theory test before taking the motorcycle test. The only exception being that you do not need to take the theory test if you passed a moped test after 1 July 1996 and want to either:

    • take the motorcycle test on a category A1 small motorcycle
    • upgrade your motorcycle licence under the ‘progressive access’ (also known as ‘staged access’) rules

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