Theory test recovery update: increasing the number of tests in England and Wales

Theory test recovery update: increasing the number of tests in England and Wales

New DVSA chief executive, Loveday Ryder, wrote to you on 25 March to set out our commitment to safely reduce the backlog of tests.

Theory tests restarted in England and Wales on 12 April.

Here’s an update on how we plan to reduce the backlog for theory tests in England and Wales.

Extending theory test centre opening hours

From Monday 10 May to Wednesday 30 June, we’ll extend the opening hours at most theory test centres in England and Wales, where conditions allow.

Typically, centres will be open earlier and close later in the evenings. For example, some centres will be open from 8am to 8pm, and some might be open on Saturdays and Sundays where they were previously closed.

This will create 300,000 extra theory test appointments.

Opening 10 temporary larger theory test centres in England

On Monday 12 April, we started to open 10 temporary larger theory test centres.  

These 10 temporary centres will create a minimum of 120,000 extra appointments each month. The centres will be in:

  • Cambridge
  • Huddersfield
  • Leeds (there will be 2 temporary centres)
  • London (Docklands) (there will be 2 temporary centres)
  • London (Holborn)
  • Manchester (Salford) (there will be 2 temporary centres)
  • Wolverhampton

The full addresses for these centres have been added to the find a theory test centre service on GOV.UK

Taking a test at one of these temporary centres

These temporary larger theory test centres will work slightly differently to normal theory test centres.

  • Some sites will have up-to 25 candidates testing at any one time. Robust covid-secure measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of candidates and staff, including: social distancing at least 1 metre apart from other people
  • protective transparent screens at reception desks
  • providing hand sanitiser to use on arrival, during the tests and when candidates leave the test centre
  • cleaning workstations (including computers and headphones) before every test
  • staff will wear a face covering (unless there’s a medical reason that it’s not recommended for them) and gloves. Candidates will have to wear a face covering too unless they have notified us in advance that they cannot
  • candidates must come into the test centre alone to help with social distancing

A full list of the safety measures in place at all theory test centres is available at Coronavirus (COVID-19): driving theory tests - GOV.UK (

Your pupils will also notice that:

  • mobile phones must be turned off before entering the test centre
  • there are no lockers for personal belongings – they will be given a rigid plastic box to put their belongings in and will need to keep this under their desk while they take the test. These boxes will be cleaned by us after use.
  • invigilators will be walking around the testing room, monitoring people taking the test, observing social distancing guidelines at all times

These details will also be included in the theory test booking confirmation email.

Non-standard accommodations

We will prioritise candidates requiring special or additional support through dedicated appointments. At all locations, weekly appointments will be reserved to ensure that we have sufficient capacity to help reduce the wait time for these candidates. 

What we will do next

We have added new appointments for the extending opening hours and the temporary test centres to the booking service.

We'll contact everyone with a theory test booked in:

  • England to tell them about the extended opening hours and contact candidates with tests booked at a centre close to the temporary test centres
  • Wales to tell them about extended opening hours

They will then have the choice to change their theory test appointment to one of the new available appointments.

Preparing for a theory test

The current national average pass rate for a car theory test is under 50%, so it’s important that your pupil is prepared for their theory test.

They can use free practice theory tests on the Safe Driving for Life website to prepare and refresh their theory test knowledge ahead of their test:

More information

Check GOV.UK for the latest about: