The UK driving licence explained

Lesson Type
Last updated: 12 Nov 2019

Before you embark on your journey through driving lessons to a full, pink driving licence, you’ll probably want to know what each section of your driving licence means. The UK’s photocard provisional and full driving licences are very similar in terms of the information they hold.

On the front of your photocard driving licence


Section 1:

Your surname.

Section 2:

Your title, first name and any middle names.

Section 3:

Your date of birth and place of birth.

Section 4a:

The date from which your provisional driving licence is valid.

Section 4b:

The date at which your driving licence is valid to. If you reach this date without having passed your test, you will need to renew your provisional licence using an up to date photo.

Section 4c:

The issuing authority of your driving licence. On your UK licence, this will be the DVLA.

Section 5:

Your licence number. This will be a unique number to you, and is comprised of the beginning letters of your surname and a sequence of numbers and letters.

Section 7:

Your signature.

Section 8:

Your address. You must ensure that this is your correct home address, and, in the event that you move, you must send your licence back to the DVLA to have it altered.

Section 9:

The category of vehicle(s) you are permitted to drive. Cross reference these letters with the codes in section 9 on the back of your licence.

On the back of your driving licence

Section 10 & 11:

This section differs slightly between provisional and full driving licences. A provisional driving licence will display each licence category, but will show start and expiry dates (in sections 10 and 11) only for the vehicles that you are permitted to drive.

A full UK driving licence, on the other hand, will display only the codes and dates for the vehicle types that you are qualified to drive.

The code B, for example, on both a provisional and full driving licence indicates that you are permitted to drive a car, with or without supervision and L plates, depending on which licence you hold.

Section 12:

This section shows any restrictions to you driving the vehicle category shown. The code 01, for example, means you must wear glasses or contact lenses as a corrective eyesight measure whilst driving.

You can find the full list of codes on

Paper counterpart licence

It’s vital that you keep the paper counterpart section of your driving licence safe. The paper counterpart will list your name, address and a digital copy of your signature. It will also show which categories you are permitted to drive as a learner and whether you have any penalty points or disqualifications.

Remember: You can still get penalty points on your provisional licence as a learner driver!

At the bottom of the paper counterpart licence there will be a section for you to fill in and send to the DVLA if you need to change your address.