The driving theory test documents section will examine your knowledge of the purpose, content and legal requirements for various driving documents.

Driving legally

In order to legally be able to drive in the UK you have to have fulfilled certain requirements, such as:

  • Having paid vehicle excise duty (road tax) where appropriate
  • Holding a valid driving licence for the type of vehicle you wish to drive
  • Having valid insurance cover
  • Ensuring that the vehicle you’re driving has a valid MOT certificate, where appropriate.

Without having fulfilled the above requirements you won’t be able to legally drive on the UK roads and highways.  Having certain documents is a key part of this. In this theory test documents section you will learn about:

  • Documents that you need to own and keep a car
  • Your driving licence
  • MOTs
  • Insurance

Owning and keeping a car

In order to own a car legally you must firstly have paid your vehicle excise duty or road tax. More details about road tax can be found here In order to do this you must have a valid MOT certificate (if your vehicle requires one) and an appropriate level of insurance cover. We will look at these in more details below:

MOT certificate

mot certificateYou will be given an MOT certificate to signify that your vehicle has passed an MOT test. MOT stands for Ministry of Transport and is a government backed test that ensures your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards.

There are rules around when vehicles requires testing. Tests are valid for one year and cars must first be tested when they are three years old (or four in Northern Ireland), some vehicles such as trailers and caravans may be exempt from needing an MOT and details of all exempt vehicles can be found here; However, it is important that any vehicle that is travelling on the road is kept in good repair and working order.

The only time when you can drive your car without an MOT certificate is when you’re driving to or from an appointment at an MOT centre or to have MOT repairs carried out. This applies even if you are driving to a test centre speculatively- You MUST have an appointment.

If your vehicle needs an MOT certificate and you don’t yet have one you can face serious consequences such as:

  • You won’t be able to renew your vehicle excise licence (road tax)
  • You could be prosecuted, lose your license or be fined
  • Your insurance may be invalidated.


Insurance is a legal requirement and also extremely important for protecting you and other road users in the event of an accident. There are three types of insurance in the UK, the first is third-party insurance.  You MUST have at least this level of insurance cover before driving on public roads. This will pay out and cover you for:

  • Injury to another person
  • Damage to someone else’s property or vehicle.

You can also have third party, fire and theft, which covers you for all of the above plus will pay put if your vehicle catches on fire or is stolen. You can also have fully comprehensive insurance which will cover any damage to your vehicle or a third party’s. Driving without insurance is a criminal offence in the UK. It can lead to an unlimited fine, and possibly disqualification. You may have to pay an excess in the event of needing to claim on your insurance for example, £100. This means you’ll have to pay the first £100 of any claim for damage to your vehicle. Your provider can give you details of this.  The cost of insurance varies based on your age, the type of car you drive and the area you live in, insurance is generally lower if you’re over 25 years old.

Producing documents

You will l need to show your insurance certificate when you’re taxing your vehicle or if a police officer asks you for it. If you have recently renewed or taken out insurance then your insurer may give you a temporary cover note until you receive your insurance certificate.

Remember, if your vehicle is unused or off the road it MUST have either a Statutory Off Road Notice – SORN or valid insurance. If you have neither, and ignore any subsequent reminders sent to you as the registered keeper, you risk

  • Receiving a fixed-penalty fine of £100
  • Facing court prosecution and a fine of up to £1000
  • Having the vehicle clamped, seized and destroyed.

If a police officer asks to see your documents and you don’t have them with you, you can produce them at a police station within seven days.

Insurance in the UK is on the driver not the vehicle therefore you must check before you drive anyone else’s vehicle, that it is insured for you to drive.

Driving licence

uk driving license The documents above have detailed documents that you must have relating to certain vehicles but the most important document that you must have is a valid license, even if you have yet to pass your test.  Before driving on a public road, a learner MUST have a valid provisional driving licence.

When you apply for you license you will tell the licensing authority certain details about yourself but it is important that you keep them up to date if circumstances change. You MUST tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if:

  • You change your name
  • There is a change to your permanent address
  • You change your vehicle
  • Your health is likely to affect your driving
  • Your eyesight doesn’t meet the required standard


to be able to drive you MUST be able to read in good daylight, with glasses or contact lenses if you wear them, a vehicle number plate from 20 metres (about 66 feet) – which is about five car lengths. This is the first thing you will be asked to prove on a driving lesson or on your test.

If you want to practise driving before you pass your test, you MUST be accompanied by someone who’s at least 21 years old and has held (and still holds) a full licence for the category of vehicle you’re driving, for three years. This does not have to be a driving instructor, but anyone who meets the above requirements. Regular driving practice will make you a better driver and likely to pass your test sooner.

Once you have passed your test there are certain rules that govern your first few years as a driver. For two years after you pass your first practical test (car or motorcycle), there is a probation period. This means that if you get six or more penalty points within this two-year probation period, you’ll lose your licence. You’ll then have to

  • Reapply for a provisional licence
  • Pass your theory and practical tests again.

You can be given points on your provisional license and any points on your provisional licence will be transferred to your new licence when you pass your test.

Owning a car

Once you have passed your test you may wish to buy your own car. Whether you purchase a new or second hand vehicle, you must have a vehicle registration certificate (V5C). This contains details of:

  • The vehicle’s make, model, engine size and year of registration
  • The registered keeper (i.e you).

If you buy a second-hand vehicle, tell the DVLA immediately that the keeper of the vehicle has changed, you may be liable for fines if you don’t.

If you’re not going to use your vehicle on public roads, you won’t have to pay vehicle excise duty (road tax) as long as you tell DVLA in advance. This is called a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) and lasts until you tax, sell or scrap your vehicle.

Remember- if anything changes-tell the DVLA .