The DVSA has reopened its driving test booking service, with nearly 400,000 new test appointments being made available.
The service has been plagued by problems since the DVSA opened it up to the general public again in late August. After crashing under the weight of enquiries it was taken offline for maintenance. Since being reinstated, it has been flooded by hundreds of thousands of users trying to secure a date for their practical driving test.
Previously, the DVSA was only issuing appointments on a rolling six-week basis, offering only enough tests for a fraction of the drivers trying to book. However, from Monday, September 14, it is releasing 375,000 new appointments covering dates all the way up to late January 2021.
How to book a driving test
To book a practical driving test you need to use the DVSA online system.
You will need your driving licence number, a credit or debit card to pay the £62 fee, and your driving instructor’s personal reference number if you want to check they’re available. You also must have a valid theory test pass certificate, which will be checked automatically.
Although the service has restarted after several shutdowns and there are more spaces available, learners should still expect a significant wait before being about to book. Within an hour of the service resuming on September 14 there were more than 180,000 queuing to secure a space.
When to book a driving test
At the moment, the DVSA has only been releasing appointments up to six weeks in advance. However, from September 14 it is releasing 375,000 more test slots that will cover the period from October to the end of January 2021.
The new tranche of appointments was made available via the online system from 8am on Monday, September 14.
Appointments will be available for learners in England, Scotland and Wales, with Scottish test centres reopening on September 14, more three weeks after those in Wales and two months after England’s.
Check availability at your local test centre
To help learners find an appointment when the system goes live again, the DVSA has launched a tracking service. Here you can check availability at your local test centre as well as any others nearby. The service will be updated every 30 minutes as appointments are claimed.
The booking system does not let you choose which test centre you wish to use before you start the process.
What to do if your theory test is about to expire
One of the knock-on effects of lockdown has been for drivers whose theory test pass certificate is due to expire or has already expired.
Theory test passes remain valid for two years but, unfortunately, if yours has expired or is due to expire before you can book a practical test, you will have to resit it.
The DVSA has said that learners will not be granted any extension on their theory test and without a valid theory test certificate you will not be able to book your practical test.
The booking system for the theory test remains open and new appointments cost £23.
This article first appeared on our sister site The Scotsman