Practical driving test booking system reopened for all customers with more capacity in the system
The online booking system for practical driving tests is opening to all remaining customers on Monday 10 May 2021 at 10am.
A priority booking system has been in place since 26 April 2021. Those customers affected by the restrictions and who had their appointments cancelled were given first access to the booking system. The system then opened for customers with theory test certificates due to expire, prioritised according to expiry dates.
From Monday, all remaining customers who have passed their theory test and wish to book a driving test will have the opportunity to do so. Demand is expected to be high and an online queuing system will be in place. The Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) would ask customers for their patience when trying to access the system.
The DVA is working hard to maximise the availability of test slots with slots currently available until the end of August and plans to release additional slots in September and October to provide further capacity. Four new temporary test centres in Belfast, Cookstown, Coleraine and Omagh will be opening later this month to provide additional capacity.
In addition, the DVA is increasing its capacity by recruiting additional examiners and is offering evening appointments. Slots will continue to be available on Saturdays and at certain centres on Sundays, where it is suitable to do so without compromising the integrity of the test. Overtime will also be used to rota off-shift dual role driving examiners to provide further capacity.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said:
“I know that this has been a frustrating time for learner drivers. To mitigate the impact on customers due to the cessation of practical driving tests on health grounds, I brought forward legislation to extend the validity of theory test pass certificates to minimise inconvenience to these customers. It was right and fair that those customers who had tests cancelled were given the first opportunity to book a test, and that those customers with theory test certificates due to expire were then prioritised.
“Now that all priority candidates have had an opportunity to book a driving test, I am pleased to announce that all other customers will be able to do so from Monday. This will be welcome news for learners who have waited so patiently during these challenging times. The DVA continues to work hard to maximise the availability of test slots, however, all driving test services across these islands are experiencing high demand with longer than usual waiting times and I would ask customers for their continued patience. If slots are not initially available at a customer’s preferred test centre, they may wish to consider booking a test at another centre. Customers are advised to keep checking the booking system as the DVA will be releasing more slots as additional resources become available.
“I would like to commend the DVA staff for their hard work in increasing testing capacity and adapting services during the period of Covid restrictions to ensure that they could continue to be provided safely. The Department, DVA and myself remain committed to protecting the lives of staff and customers during this pandemic.”
Further information on driving tests is available here:
The booking system for Phase 1 customers, whose theory test pass certificates will expire by 31 October 2021, opened on 26 April.
The booking system for Phase 2 customers, whose theory test pass certificates will expire between 1 November 2021 and 31 March 2022, opened on 4 May 2021.
The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations (NI) 1996 were amended at the beginning of September 2020 to allow an eight month extension to the validity of theory test pass certificates, which expired between 1 March and 31 October 2020 and a six month extension to the validity of off-road motorcycle test pass certificates, which expired between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020.
Further legislation came into operation on Monday 7 December 2020. Theory test pass certificates which had been extended by eight months, had their validity period extended by a further four months. In addition, theory test pass certificates which expire between 1 November 2020 and 30 June 2021, and which have not already benefited from an extension, have had their validity period extended by eight months.
Before the resumption of practical driving tests on 23 April, approximately 22,000 customers held a private car theory test pass certificate and had not booked a practical driving test. There were approximately 8,600 customers in Phases 1 and 2, and, as expected, not all of these customers proceeded to book a test.