Running a motorcycle training school

10. What driving licences learner riders need

Rules for the type of driving licence learner riders need, including UK and foreign licences, photocard licences and rules for direct access and progressive access.

Driving licences and restrictions

You can download a flowchart, which gives step-by-step instructions on how to get a moped or motorbike licence.

The candidate is responsible for bringing the right moped or motorcycle to their test for the licence category they want to get.

Check the list of motorcycles that can be used for practical riding tests

Sub-category AM: moped

The moped category AM replaced category P from 19 January 2013. Drivers who had a full category P licence before this date will keep this category on their licence.

A learner rider can apply for their provisional driving licence up to 8 weeks before their 16th birthday. However, it:

  • does not become valid until the date of their 16th birthday
  • is only applicable for category AM (moped)

A moped is a vehicle that has:

  • fewer than 4 wheels
  • a top design speed of no more than 45 km/h
  • a maximum power of 4 Kilowatts (kW)

Anyone who passed their car driving test (category B) before 1 February 2001:

  • has full moped entitlement (sub-category P or AM)
  • doesn’t need to take a CBT course to ride a moped

Anyone who passed their car driving test (category B) after 1 February 2001 has to take a CBT course to validate their moped rights (category P or AM). They can then:

  • ride a moped without L plates
  • carry pillion passengers

If a car driving test is passed during the 2-year life of a DL196 certificate, the full category AM rights are confirmed. In these cases:

  • the L plates can be removed
  • the rider can carry pillion passengers
  • the DL196 certificate is valid for the life of the driving licence

Sub-category A1: light motorcycle

Riders who pass a practical test taken on a machine of 120 to 125cc/11 kW will:

  • get an A1 light motorcycle licence
  • be restricted to machines of 125cc or below

Sub-category A2: standard motorcycle

Riders who pass a practical test taken on a machine of at least 395cc with a power output between 25 and 35 kW (33bhp and 46.6 bhp) will get an A2 motorcycle licence.

Category A: unrestricted motorcycle

Riders who pass the test on a machine of at least 595cc with a power output of at least 40 kW (53.6bhp) will get a full category A licence.

Progressive access and direct access

There are minimum ages for people who want to ride more powerful motorcycles. These younger riders can qualify and get experience riding a less powerful machine.

Progressive access route

Under the progressive access route, riders can access the largest motorcycle (category A) at age 21 if they’ve had a full A2 licence for at least 2 years.

The candidate doesn’t have to take a theory test each time they step up to the next category, as long as they’ve had the lower category for at least 2 years.

Example If a candidate has had a full A1 for at least 2 years, they can take the practical modules for A2 without taking another theory test first.

Direct access route

Riders can take a direct access route to A2 and A where they meet the minimum age requirement for that category.

A learner aged 19 years or over and who wants to get a full licence to ride medium-sized machines (sub-category A2) can do so by:

  • successfully completing CBT
  • passing the theory and practical tests

A learner aged 24 years or over can get a licence for the largest machines (category A) by:

  • successfully completing CBT
  • passing the theory and practical tests

A valid motorcycle theory test pass certificate, less than 2 years old, can be used for any motorcycle practical test which the candidate is eligible to take.

A candidate who has successfully completed CBT and got a full licence for a lower category (for example, A1) will be covered for the CBT requirements of the next categories.

Photocard licences

It’s your responsibility to check the identity of people attending CBT courses.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends that you should always check that the photos on photocard driving licences are valid.

If the photo has expired or is about to expire, you should tell the trainee that they:

  • will need to renew their licence with DVLA straight away
  • should ideally do this before applying for the theory or practical tests

Although old-style paper licences are still valid for a CBT course (provided that the category A entitlement is still current), DVSA recommends that the trainee should be asked to bring a valid passport to check their identity.

Foreign licences

Motorcycle

Full car licences issued within the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) are valid until the age of 70 in Great Britain provided they are current. They don’t give provisional motorcycle entitlement (with the exception of Northern Ireland).

Full car licences from countries within the EU or EEA can be used as provisional motorcycle entitlement only if supported by a D91 issued by DVLA.

Applications for a D91 should be made on a D9 form.

The Great Britain driver number should be entered on all DL196 certificates issued to foreign licence holders.

Full car licences from countries outside the EU or EEA don’t give provisional motorcycle entitlement.

Moped

A full car licence from an EU or EEA country only gives full moped entitlement in Great Britain if it shows moped as a separate category or entitlement (as Great Britain licences do with category P or AM).

A full car licence holder from an EU or EEA country without moped separately identified has 2 options to get moped entitlement in Great Britain. They can either:

  • get a D91 using a D9 form (the D91 will give provisional moped entitlement and they’ll need to take CBT to validate the entitlement)
  • exchange their licence for a full Great Britain car licence - they’ll have to take CBT to validate the full moped entitlement on it unless they got the moped entitlement with their car test pass before 1 February 2001

Licences issued in Northern Ireland are accepted as equal to Great Britain licences.

Provisional licences issued in other EU or EEA countries (including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) are:

  • not valid for use in Great Britain
  • not exchangeable for Great Britain provisional licences

Any person with a foreign provisional licence who wants to drive or ride in Great Britain should apply for a provisional in the normal way.