Do new drivers need P plates in the UK?

Written by Steve Cook

Published on

So, you’ve passed your driving test and you’re ready to get out on the road! But, before you do, you may be wondering about the rules surrounding “P” plates in the UK.

As a new or young driver, it’s important to understand the regulations before you start driving. In this article, we'll explore the current rules around P plates, including some of the things you should think about before buying an insurance policy for young drivers.

Let’s get started.

A new driver in his car on the road

What are P plates used for?

P plates are signs that new drivers can display on their vehicles. They show other drivers that you’ve recently passed your driving test, and that you’re still in the early stages of gaining experience on the road.

The "P" stands for "Probationary", which is displayed in green against a white background.

Are P plates mandatory for new drivers?

No, P plates are not a legal requirement for new drivers in the UK. Unlike L plates, which have to be displayed by learner drivers, the use of P plates is entirely optional. New drivers can choose whether or not to display P plates on their vehicles.

Benefits of using P plates

While not mandatory, there are a few advantages of using P plates as a new driver:

1. Increased awareness: P plates let other road users know that you’re a novice driver, encouraging them to be more patient and understanding if you make mistakes or drive cautiously.

2. Reduced pressure: Displaying P plates can help alleviate some of the pressure new drivers may feel when driving solo for the first time. Other motorists are more likely to give you extra space and time to make decisions.

3. More confidence: Using P plates allows you to gradually build your confidence on the road, knowing that other drivers are aware of your inexperience and may be more forgiving if you make a mistake.

Can P plates lower the cost of insurance for new drivers?

While displaying P plates does not directly impact insurance costs for young drivers, some insurers may offer discounts to drivers who complete additional training, such as the Pass Plus scheme.

It's always best to compare insurance quotes from multiple providers to find the most competitive price for you.

How long can you use P plates for?

There’s no set time limit for using P plates. New drivers can display them for as long as they feel necessary, whether that's a few weeks, months, or even longer. The decision to remove P plates is entirely up to the driver and their level of confidence on the road.

Placement of P plates on your vehicle

If you choose to use P plates, make sure they’re clearly visible to other road users. P plates should be placed on both the front and rear of your vehicle, similar to the positioning of L plates. However, unlike L plates, there are no strict legal requirements regarding the size or dimensions of P plates.

Are P plates compulsory for new drivers in the UK?

No, P plates are not compulsory for new drivers in the UK. The use of P plates is entirely optional, and new drivers can choose whether or not to display them on their vehicles.

How do P plates differ from L plates?

L plates are mandatory for all learner drivers in the UK, as they show that you’re still in the process of learning. P plates, on the other hand, are optional — they show that you’ve recently passed your test and you’re still in the early stages of gaining driving experience.

How long should I keep P plates on my car?

How long you keep P plates on your car is entirely up to you. You can display them for as long as you feel necessary, whether that's a few weeks, months, or longer. Basically until you feel confident enough to remove them.

Summary

As a new driver in the UK, the decision to use P plates is entirely yours. While not legally required, displaying P plates comes with a few benefits, such as increased awareness from other road users, reduced pressure, and the opportunity to build your confidence gradually.

There’s no set time limit for using P plates, so you can keep them on your vehicle for as long as you feel necessary. They’re a useful way of showing other drivers that you’re still gaining experience on the road, helping you to build confidence in your own time.