Note: The following is valid for Great Britain and not Northern Ireland. The latter has a different process and different costs!
The easiest way to obtain a provisional driving licence is to do it online.
You will need to tell them:
- Your addresses for the last 3 years (can be foreign)
- Your NI number (optional, but highly recommended to add if you already have one)
- If you are an EEA national entering the UK in the last 12 months the date you entered the UK
- Your medical conditions
After finishing the survey you have to pay the £50.00 using debit or credit card, and they will check your details against their records. If everything goes fine, you'll receive your dirivng licence by post. They might ask you for additional details later, especially if you haven't got an NI number yet, or they cannot verify your current address. They ususally do this by sending you a pre-filled application by post, which you need to send back with necessaryy proof of address and ID cards back to them. From my experience processing of the form takes around 1.5 weeks, so if you need to send them your ID card you will need to forfeit that to them for around 1.5 weeks.
Note that you can only apply for a provisional UK licence if you are an ordinary resident in the UK. So if you just recently moved here they might refuse your appplication because of this. Having an NI number and some kind of proof-of-address is highly recommended, as they will show that you are planning to remain in the UK for more than 6 months.
An alternative way to get a provisional licence is by filling out a D1 Application form. You can get one at post offices, or order online from this page. When going this route however you will need to also send them the following via post:
- original documentation confirming your identity
- a colour passport-style photograph
- proof-of address (note that this is not stated on the site or the form, but they might ask for it later, so it might be easier to just include it in the first place. Usual UK proof of address documents are: bank statement, utility bill (preferably non-Cable and non-Mobile), tenancy agreement)
To the following address: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AF (note that the address is different if you have a non-UK passport. If you have a UK passport you need to send their application to SA99 1AD)
This does mean that you have to send them your passport or national ID, and the process might take around 3 weeks, so you should only do this if you have at least two different kinds of IDs.
If you are living in Northern Ireland, then the offline process is similar, but there are some differences: You can not apply online for a provisional driving licence in Northern Ireland, so you have to apply by post. The cost is also higher, as of 2014 it is £62.50. You can read more about NI licences at the DVA site.