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How to add higher categories to your driving licence (staging and upgrading)

If you hold a full car driving licence (category B), you can apply for provisional entitlements in a higher category. There are circumstances which will upgrade the lower category on your licence if you pass a driving test in a higher category.


You must hold full entitlement in category B before beginning to apply for provisional entitlements in higher categories. For example, if you want to drive a vehicle over 3,500kgs you must have full entitlement to drive a vehicle up to 3,500kgs.

This is known as staging and will apply from the smallest to the largest vehicles.

The table below shows the full licence that needs to be held before you can apply for provisional entitlement in the higher categories.

Provisional entitlement required Full licence to be held
B+E*, G*, H*, C1, C, D1, D B
C1+E C1
D1+E D1

*Provisional entitlement granted automatically with full B licence.


If you pass your test for a larger vehicle category, in certain circumstances a lower category will be upgraded.

For example, you can skip category C1 or D1 and go straight to category C or D if you meet the minimum age requirements, further information on age requirements is available below:

The table below provides an indication of the vehicle category held, the higher vehicle category that has been passed and the vehicle category that will be upgraded as a result of the test passed.

Full category held Additional test passed Upgrading
B, C1 C1+E B+E
B, D1 D1+E B+E
B, C1, D1 C1+E B+E, D1+E
B, C1, D1 D1+E B+E
B, C1, C C+E B+E, C1+E
B, C1, C, D1, D D+E B+E, D1+E
B, C1, C, D1, D C+E B+E, C1+E, D1+E, D+E

As a general guideline:

  • lorry entitlements can upgrade bus entitlements
  • bus entitlements can not upgrade lorry entitlements
  • both lorry and bus entitlements can upgrade car entitlements

For further information regarding staging or upgrading of vehicle category entitlements, you can write to:

Production and Assurance
Driver Licensing Division
Castlerock Road
BT51 3TB

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