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illustration putting learner driver symbol on car
  1. Learner
8th June 2021

L plates and P plates: what you need to know

We explain the legalities for L and P plates and when you need to use them.

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Learning to drive is one of life’s most thrilling experiences and whilst you may feel silly having L and P plates stuck to your vehicle it’s imperative you know when you should display them on your vehicle. 

Who needs an L plate?

Every learner driver needs to have L plates on their vehicle. If you’re learning to drive with an instructor they would have sorted this out already, but if you’re learning to drive from a family member then you must ensure you have two L plates on the car: one at the front and one at the back. 

Rules for displaying L plates

Your L plates must not be defaced and must not fall off your car mid-drive. As such, drivers generally opt for either magnetic or adhesive L plates.

Can L plates be displayed all the time?

If you’re not a learner driver, then you should remove the L plates from your car. This also applies if you have a full UK licence, but share your car with a learner. Whilst you won’t get into any serious trouble for leaving L plates on if you’re fully qualified, it’s best practice for yourself and other road users that you remove them before you set off on your journey.

Additionally, driving instructors are likely to keep their L plates on at all times, which, of course, is perfectly legal.

What is a P plate?

When you’ve recently passed your driving test, it’s common to display two green P plates on your car. These help to signify that you’re a new driver.

Interestingly, the P on a P plate doesn’t stand for “pass”, but instead for “probationary”. This doesn’t mean there are restrictions on your driving ability. It simply lets other drivers know that you haven’t had your licence for long.

Unlike L plates, which all learner drivers must display on their cars, P plates are not mandatory. This means you have the choice as to whether you use them.

Why use P plates?

As P plates aren’t mandatory, you might be wondering why people choose to display them.

Displaying a P plate is the only way to show other drivers that you’re new to the road. This is important because, since you’ll only recently have passed your test, you may not have driven around much alone.

Since a P plate lets other drivers know you’re new to driving alone, it also encourages them to give you a bit more leeway when it comes to making mistakes.

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Cheap learner driver insurance can be hard to find. So we work with many insurance providers to offer value-for-money policies without compromising on the level of cover. Let us know as soon as you’ve passed your test so we can move you to one of our fantastic, low cost and no curfew young driver policies.

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