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Driving eyesight requirements

Before you start to learn to drive, make sure you are aware of the eyesight requirements. If you need glasses or contact lenses to meet the requirements you must make sure you wear them every time you drive.

Letting DVLA know about eyesight conditions

When applying for your driving licence from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) you should let them know if you have:

  • any visual condition which affects both eyes (not including short or long sight or colour blindness)
  • any visual condition which affects your sight, (not including short or long sight or colour blindness), for example,  if you have sight in one eye only

If you have had sight correction surgery you should declare this when you apply for your provisional licence.

Eyesight requirements for the practical driving test

Before the practical driving test, your driving examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a stationary vehicle.

The distance requirement for the old-style number plate is 20.5 metres. The distance requirement for the eyesight test with the new-style number plate is 20 metres. New-style number plates were introduced on 1 September 2001 and are easily identifiable because they start with two letters ie AB51 ABC.

If you can't speak English or have difficulty reading, you may copy down what you see. If your answer is incorrect, your examiner will measure the exact distance and repeat the test.

If you can read the number plate correctly you will be allowed to proceed with your driving test.

What happens if I can not read the first number plate?

If you are unsuccessful on the first eyesight test, you should be asked to read another number plate, and if necessary be allowed to walk forward until you are just over 20.5 metres away or 20 metres if it is a new number plate.

What happens if I can not read the second number plate?

If you do not read the second plate correctly, the examiner must use a tape measure to measure the exact distance from a third number plate. This will be 20.5 metres if you are asked to read an old-style number plate and 20 metres if you are asked to read a new-style number plate. If you can not read the number plate at this distance, and the examiner is satisfied that you do not meet the required eyesight standard, you will fail the driving test, and the practical test will not continue.

This test failure will be marked on the driving test report form (DL25) with a mark in the Item 1 box. Your interpretation of the number plate along with the correct one will be written on the back of the form along with the measured distance.

What if I need glasses to pass the eyesight test?

If you use glasses to read the number plate for the eyesight test, you must wear them whenever you drive. If you take off your glasses during the practical test, your test will not continue. If you are unable to pass the eyesight requirement because you have forgotten or broken your glasses, or brought the wrong pair, you will not be allowed to take the practical test. This will result in a test failure.

What happens if I fail the eyesight test?

If you fail your practical driving test on the eyesight requirement, the examiner will send a form (D255) to DVLA notifying them of the eyesight failure. DVLA will then ask DSA to conduct a separate eyesight test for you at a test centre. If you are successful at this separate eyesight test you will still have to pass the standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.

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