NI young drivers charged 54% more for provisional licence than GB counterparts. Northern Ireland provisional licence costs £62.50 compared with £34.00 in England, Scotland and Wales.
Motorists applying for a provisional driving licence in Northern Ireland are being forced to pay almost double the cost of a similar licence in Great Britain, according to New Driver NI, an organisation dedicated to promote the interests of young drivers in Northern Ireland.
New Driver NI says that Northern Ireland drivers applying for their first licence, which legally enables them to learn to drive a vehicle and undertake their first test, are currently charged £62.50 to apply. In Great Britain, new motorists face a fee of just £34.00 pounds if they apply online or £43.00 by post. The difference in fee widened at the end of 2014, when the GB online fee was slashed from £50 following a public consultation.
However, currently, it isn’t possible to apply online for a provisional licence in Northern Ireland.
With around 25,000 new drivers applying for a licence each year in Northern Ireland, this totals almost £1.6 million in revenue, which could be up to almost double the amount paid by the same number of drivers in Great Britain.
New Driver NI is now calling on the Department of Environment (DOE) in Northern Ireland, which oversees and regulates this area, to stop local drivers being penalised unfairly and to urgently bring the charges in line with those that apply in the three other UK jurisdictions.
More than 3,000 disgruntled people have already signed a petition calling on the DOE to cut the cost of the provisional licence in Northern Ireland and their call is supported by New Driver NI.
New Driver NI Director, Tony McKeown, said:
“For decades, learning to drive has been a rite of passage for young people in Northern Ireland. Getting a driving licence is a liberating experience, a passport to the open road, and particularly for those in more rural areas. It can also help our young people to find a job. Getting on the road can be a very expensive process and this isn’t being made easy for our local new drivers who are being charged almost double the cost for a provisional licence than their peers elsewhere in the UK. We are calling on the DOE to urgently review the situation to ensure that drivers here are not unfairly paying over the odds.”
Last year, the DOE cut the cost of car and motorcycle theory tests by £5, falling from £30 to £25 and there are plans to reduce this further by £2 in October 2015. However, New Driver NI, said more can be done.
“While I commend the progress made in this area, this is not enough. For every month that passes without action, young drivers in Northern Ireland are losing out on thousands of pounds – money that could be spent on meeting the enormous costs of getting of professional driving lessons and insurance, not least the cost of a vehicle itself.”
While lobbying to promote the interests of new drivers in Northern Ireland, New Driver NI also provides an online resource to encourage best practice, safer driving and greater awareness of the processes involved at www.newdriverni.com. Launched in April, the innovative site is packed with information and guidance for those who are thinking about learning to drive, those about to take the plunge or those who have recently passed their test, and features topics such as how to pass your test, buying a car, insurance, looking after your car and road safety.
For more information on the campaign to cut the cost of a provisional licence for drivers in Northern Ireland, or to sign the petition, visit: