About the driving theory test
Information on the driving theory test, who needs to take it and documents you must bring.
Wearing a face covering at your test
It is strongly recommended that you wear a face covering at your test.
For more information visit: Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings guidance
When you do the theory test
If you are a learner driver you must take and pass your theory test before you book your practical test. However, if you already have a full driving licence you may not have to take another theory test if you want to start driving a different vehicle.
If you want to take a theory or practical driving test in Northern Ireland, it is a legal requirement that you must be normally resident in Northern Ireland. If you have a GB provisional licence and want to take a motorcycle, car, bus or lorry theory test here, before booking your test you will need to complete a residency declaration form. You need to send the form to the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) with proof you are resident in Northern Ireland.
UK licence holders
You will need to take a theory test if you want a licence for a new category of vehicle. For example, if you have a car licence and you want a motorcycle licence you will need to take a category specific theory test.
If, however, you want to upgrade within a vehicle category you will not normally need to take a theory test. For example, if you have a full automatic car licence and you want a manual car licence you will not have to take a theory test.
It is your responsibility to make sure you have the right licence for the vehicle you are driving. If you are unsure if you need to take a theory test, contact the DVA.
European Economic Area (EEA) licence holders
If you hold a valid community licence and you are visiting Northern Ireland, you can drive any vehicle for as long as your licence remains valid. The full entitlement for the vehicle you wish to drive must be shown on your licence.
You can see the full list of EEA countries at the following link:
Foreign licence holders
If you hold a full driving licence issued outside the EEA it may be possible to exchange it for an equal Northern Ireland licence. You should contact DVA to find out if you can exchange your foreign licence.
If you can't exchange your foreign licence you will have to apply for a Northern Ireland provisional licence and take a theory and practical test.
Documents to bring to the test
You must bring both parts of your valid signed Northern Ireland driving licence (photocard and paper counterpart).
If you are a GB driving licence holder you must bring your valid signed GB photocard licence showing your provisional entitlement. You also need to bring a printed summary of your driving licence record from view or share your driving licence information - gov.uk.
The summary needs to be dated within a week of your test date.
If your GB photocard licence does not show your provisional entitlement, you must get written confirmation from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of your provisional entitlement.
An old style GB licence consists of one paper document which does not display your photograph. If you have an old-style, non-photographic licence you must bring acceptable photographic evidence of your identity as well as your licence.
The following are acceptable:
- a passport
- any of the following identification cards as long as they are presented with your driving licence
- an Employer's Identity Card bearing your photograph and signature
- a trade union card bearing your photograph and signature
- a cheque guarantee or credit card bearing your photograph and signature
- photograph of you, which has been signed and dated on the back by an acceptable person as detailed below:
I (name of acceptable person) certify that this is a true likeness of (name of candidate), who has been known to me for (number) years in my capacity as (specify capacity).
Business or Profession:
Your examiner will accept a signature from the following:
- Member of Parliament
- District council councillor
- Police officer
- Established civil servant
- Bank official
- Justice of the Peace
- Minister of religion
- Medical practitioner
If your details have changed since you made your theory test booking, you will need to provide evidence of these changes on the day of your test. Only original documents can be accepted. If you need any further information contact the theory test booking line.
If you do not bring these items with you, or you are late for your appointment, you will not be allowed to sit your test and you will lose your fee.
What to do if you have lost your driving licence
If you misplace your driving licence, you must apply for a replacement. This can take a few weeks. If this happens you may have to rearrange your theory test.
At the test centre
You are advised to arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled time of your test.
On arrival at the centre you will be asked your name and both parts of your licence will be checked.
You will be asked to store any belongings you have in a locker. You can keep the key with you during the test. All mobile phones must be switched off. You will be given a copy of the test procedures and given a few minutes to read over them.
The invigilator staff will then check you in by carrying out a security check, signing a registration log and confirming your details. You will be shown into the testing room and given an individual booth to sit your test. Check the details on the screen and if they're right press 'Start' on the screen to start your test.
Should you have any problems in the testing room, raise your hand and a member of staff will come to you.
When you've finished the test you are free to quietly leave the testing room. Staff will ask you to sign out and collect any belongings from the locker. You can take a seat in the waiting room to await your results.
Personal items are not allowed into the testing room and must be placed in a locker. Personal items include, but are not limited to:
- mobile phones
- earpieces/ earphones
- laptops/ hand-held computers/ Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and other electronic devices
- revision notes
- note paper
- food and drink
If you are found with any of the above prohibited items in the testing room, your test will be stopped, you will be asked to leave the premises and you will lose your test fee.
Theory test candidate impersonation
Be aware that having someone impersonate you for the driving or riding theory test is an offence, which carries a fine of up to £2,500.
Impersonation puts the lives of other road users at risk.
You can find more information on taking the test at:
For queries about the driving theory test
For queries about this service contact the theory test booking line.