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Can you buy a car with a provisional licence?

Last updated: 24/03/2022 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Buying your first car can be a huge moment. It offers independence, flexibility, and freedom from unreliable public transport timetables.

Traditionally, people tend to purchase a vehicle after they’ve passed their test, as driving is somewhat limited as a learner. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an option.c

There are certain situations where it actually makes sense to buy a car before you pass your test, and in this guide, we’ll be exploring what they are and what you need to do to make it happen.

In This Guide:

Can I buy a car as a learner driver?

There’s nothing technically stopping you purchasing a car as a learner. It might come as a surprise that you don’t even need to have a provisional licence, and there are no legal age requirements to do so.

Obviously, all this changes if you want to start driving your car around. This raises certain challenges if you want to test drive your car, or bring it back from the place you bought it.

So, although you could buy a car yourself at age 16 while still learning to drive, you will almost certainly want a fully qualified driver with you to fill in the gaps.

Should I buy a car before I’ve passed my test?

So, we’ve established that you can buy a car whenever you want, but does that mean you should? To keep things simple, we’ve put together a list of pros and cons to give an idea of whether it’s a smart move for you:


  • Practise in it: If you have your own car, then you are able to do your lessons in it. While we would always recommend using an instructor's car for the first few, once you're more comfortable it’s perfectly OK to use your vehicle. The vehicle will need to be DVLA certified, and you will need to be with a driver who meets the necessary criteria. Assuming these aren’t an issue, using your own car gives you more freedom, and means you won’t need to rely on friends and family’s vehicles. Unless your mum is going to charge you for the privilege of teaching you to drive, you should also save some money.
  • Familiarity: If you’re able to take lessons in your car, then you’ll grow more comfortable with it over time. This will mean that if you decide to take your driving test in your own car (which, like taking lessons, is acceptable as long as it meets DVLA regulations), you will likely know it back to front, giving you that extra confidence you need.
  • More time to shop around: When you pass your test, the first thing you're going to want to do is buy a car. What you may not be so inclined to do is spend time trying to find the best deal. Buying one while you're learning gives you a little bit more breathing space, reducing the chances of a snap decision on the day you can legally drive.


  • A risky investment: We know you don’t want to hear this, but there’s always a chance you might not pass your test. If it doesn’t work out and you're not able to retake for a while, your beloved car will just be sitting there gathering dust. If it gets to the point when you need to sell it, you will almost certainly lose money on it, adding insult to injury.
  • Less safe: Using an instructor and their car is going to be the best way to learn to drive. Features like learner plates and secondary pedals make them far safer than using your own vehicle. If you have your own car, you will almost certainly take it for a spin (under supervision of course) and risk getting into a crash, damaging your car before you’ve even passed your test.

Which car should I buy as a learner driver?

There are a few things that almost all learners will look for in a car.

The first of these will be price. While some learner drivers will be well into adulthood, most will be in their late teens and early twenties. Therefore, cheaper options will be ideal.

As well as the actual cost of the car, a cheaper vehicle will cost less to insure, with premiums for young drivers notoriously high. It’s also a good idea to get something a bit cheaper when you’re at your highest risk of damaging it due to inexperience.

If you want to see what cars have the cheapest insurance rates for young drivers, check out our helpful guide.

Easy-to-drive vehicles with helpful features such as active parking assist and cruise control are also smart things to look for as a learner. It will give you that little bit of help you need when you're still getting comfortable on the road. Car insurance providers will also be willing to offer cheaper premiums on vehicles that they see as being sensible, safe purchases.

Good options for learner drivers include:

  1. Ford Fiesta
  2. Volkswagen Golf
  3. Mini
  4. Vauxhall Astra
  5. Ford KA

Can I get insured with a provisional licence?

Yes, you can get insurance with a provisional licence, and you will need to if you want to learn in a car that you’ve bought yourself. This doesn’t apply to those taking lessons with an instructor, however, as you will be covered by their policy. 

Applying for learner insurance is in many ways similar to taking out a normal policy. However, there will of course be some big differences.

One of the main differences will be the rules around your supervisor. As you have not passed your test, an insurer will want to take extra care to minimise damage to the vehicle and a potential claim. Therefore, a lot of policies will come with a clause that the supervisor is 25 or over, despite the legal requirement being only 21.

It’s important to note that some policies are suitable for your own vehicle, while others only for one you are borrowing. So, make sure you’re checking what’s included before putting pen to paper.

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