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  • Writer's pictureEllis Wood ADI

No extension of theory tests

Update on theory test certificates The government has considered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the validity period of theory test certificates.

After careful consideration, the government has decided not to extend theory test certificates due to the impact on road safety.

We understand that this will be disappointing for some of your pupils. But it’s essential that your pupils have the most up to date road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills to help prepare them for their test and driving safely on their own once they’ve passed.

If your pupils certificate has expired We cannot reschedule your pupils driving test that was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic because their theory test certificate has expired.

1. We will cancel their driving test booking. 2. They’ll get a full refund for their driving test within the next 7 working days. It will be refunded to the card that was used to pay for the test. They do not need to do anything to get the refund. 3. They will need to book and pass a theory test. You can do this at 4. Revise and practise for their theory test. Check what books and software you can use at 5. They need to book and pass a driving test. They must do this within 2 years of passing their next theory test.

Your pupil can book a new theory test up to 6 months before your current theory test certificate expires, or at any time after it’s expired.

If your pupils certificate is due to expire We will email your pupils in the coming weeks to invite them to arrange a driving test. However, we cannot guarantee that they’ll be able to take their driving test before their theory test certificate expires. If their theory test certificate expires before they can take a driving test, they will need to follow the above steps.

If they want to cancel their driving test now They can cancel their driving test now and get a full refund. To do this, email

Make sure they include their name and 2 of the following in their email: • their driving licence number • their theory test pass certificate number • their driving test booking reference

More information Click to Check GOV.UK for more information about: theory tests driving tests guidance for instructors on the restart of training and testing

Theory test certificate expiry Q&A

Q. Why not continue to keep candidates on hold while they get a theory test? A.  we are unable to keep candidates on hold if their theory test expires. If candidates do not manage to take a car driving test before their theory test certificate expires they will be automatically refunded the money for their car driving test.

Q. I can’t get a theory test in time to take a driving test can you keep me on hold? A. Unfortunately, Legally we are unable to keep candidates on hold if the theory test expires.

Q. Why not reschedule while I get a new theory test? A. Unfortunately, legally, we are unable to keep candidates on hold if the theory test expires Q.I can’t get a test, it is unfair that you have cancelled my test? A. Unfortunately, legally, we are unable to keep candidates on hold if the theory test expires Q. When will I get a refund? A. 7 days after we have cancelled your test

Q. Can I book another test while waiting to take a theory test? A. No legally you can’t book a practical test without a valid theory test certificate

Q. When will you be contacting me to book a test – my theory test certificate is expiring? A. We are prioritising candidates in order of their original test date. Please be patient you will receive your email in due course. If your theory test certificate expires we will refund your test. Q. Why not prioritise candidates whose theory tests are expiring? A. It is only right we prioritise candidates in order of their original test date. Q. When will I be able to book a test if I get refunded? A. You will be able to book a test once you have passed your theory test and when all critical worker tests have been completed and all candidates who are on hold have been invited to take a test. Q. When will this be? A. We will announce when the test booking service reopens in due course.

Q. When will you be contacting candidates in Scotland? A. Once the Scottish Government has confirmed that its safe for driver instruction and testing to restart we’ll contact candidates who are on hold in batches to invite them to choose a new test


Statement from NASP 

NASP expresses deep concern and disappointment at lack of extension to theory test certificates

NASP is disappointed at the announcement today that theory test certificates cannot be extended.

Whilst we respect that the regulatory challenges inherent in extending the life of theory test certificates have not made this possible, and also respect the potential safety implications of a candidate having too long a time lapse between their last theory test, we are still frustrated and concerned that it has not been possible to extend theory test certificates. Especially as ministers in Northern Ireland have considered it the correct thing to do for their new drivers and have issued an extension for 8 months.  Thousands of learner drivers are not being treated fairly especially as extensions were granted for photo card driving licence renewals and MOTs during lockdown.

NASP have on numerous occasions asked DVSA to consider if it would be possible to offer those who have imminently expiring certificates a free re-test and expedite them through the booking system (once it is fully operational again) so they can access a test before their practical test - if an extension to the certificate were not possible.

As critical workers have been able to access special provision to enable them to take a theory test in a timely manner, NASP have also asked whether it would not be fair to allow those pupils affected the same opportunity - even if meant them travelling to more distant centres (as critical workers have) to facilitate their theory test.

We also proposed pupils with specific educational needs should be given consideration for a retest as soon as possible, at no extra cost.

Sadly, our proposals were rejected. We recognise that DVSA did put our concerns forward to Ministers to consider an extension, however, for the reasons given, this was not possible.

NASP shares the frustration and concern that trainers, pupils and other industry bodies have expressed to us, not only the disappointment that certificates cannot be extended but also the exceptional time it has taken to reach this decision.

NASP will be insisting that DVSA now take steps to ensure all those affected have priority when booking another theory test to allow them to be able to take the practical test at their individual newly rearranged time slot, without being even more disadvantaged than they have been.  Pupils should not have to delay their practical tests again due to lack of an opportunity to retake their theory test in a timely manner just because government does not want to allow them the opportunity to extend their certificate.

In lieu of an immediate solution to help those particular pupils impacted, NASP highlights the importance of helping pupils to prepare for the theory test, given the statistically high number of attempts. At this time, with limited services and a backlog of users (and given how valuable the theory test is in assessing a pupil’s perception of risk) it is more important than ever that pupils are fully prepped for this important assessment and are able to make best efforts to succeed on their next attempt.

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