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What Does It Mean If An Instructor is ‘DVSA-Approved’?

January 25, 2024

5 min read

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Leon McKenzie

Content Writer

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One of the most important decisions that learners have to make on their journey towards becoming fully qualified drivers is choosing the right driving instructor. After all, the quality of your tuition is what could make or break your performance on the driving test.

If you’ve already started your search, you might be wondering what it means when a driving school tells you that it employs ‘DVSA-approved’ instructors. As the leading experts on all things driving-related, we’re here to set things straight for you! We’re going to look at what it means to be a DVSA-approved instructor and why it’s so important that learner drivers only receive tuition from one.

What does DVSA-approved mean?

Let’s start off with the basics, shall we? DVSA stands for Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. The DVSA is responsible for carrying out driving tests, safety tests, and roadside checks on drivers and vehicles. And that’s not all they do. The agency also approves people to be driving instructors and makes sure that they provide high quality training.

If an instructor is DVSA-approved then it means that they have been qualified and registered by the DVSA. By law, only DVSA-approved instructors are allowed to charge for their services. These instructors are known as PDIs (Potential Driving Instructors) and ADIs (Approved Driving Instructors).

If you’re looking to pass your test and become a safe, confident driver, then learning with a PDI or ADI is the route to take. Why? Well, while there’s nothing stopping you from learning with friends or family, their guidance will pale in comparison to a professional’s.

In order to become an instructor, every trainee goes through rigorous coaching, background checks and passes 3 tests. PDIs have already passed 2 of the 3 tests and completed 40 hours of training with a qualified instructor, so the DVSA approves them to start teaching learners to build up their teaching experience. Let’s look at the process of becoming a DVSA-approved instructor below.

How does an instructor become DVSA-approved?

An example of an ADI badge and a PDI badge

In order to practice driving on the roads, learner drivers must be supervised at all times. Contrary to what you might have heard, learners can’t just practice with any old driver. Anyone looking to supervise a learner must first meet a few stipulations set out by the DVSA. Supervisors must:

  • Be 21 or over
  • Be qualified to drive the type of vehicle being used to supervise the learner (manual or automatic)
  • Have held a full licence for that category for at least 3 years

Now, that’s just for anyone looking to supervise a learner. To actually start charging learner drivers for tuition, aspiring instructors must apply to become an ADI. During this application process, candidates must get a criminal record check. Applications can be refused if someone has:

  • 5 or more penalty points
  • Been banned from driving
  • Been convicted for any non-motoring offences

Candidates are also unlikely to have their application accepted if they have been: convicted of a sexual, violent, financial or drug-related crime, or banned from working with children. Once aspiring instructors have met the legal requirements, the qualifying process can start. In order to officially join the ADI Register, candidates must first earn their stripes as an ADI.


If you thought it was difficult enough for learners to get their hands on a full driving licence, have some sympathy for driving instructors. In order to join the ranks of DVSA-approved instructors, they must pass three tests.

Part 1:  Theory: The theory test is made up of 100 multiple-choice questions and 14 hazard perception clips. Candidates are allowed unlimited attempts.

Part 2: Driving Ability: The driving test involves candidates driving safely in various road and traffic conditions, all the while displaying a good knowledge of the Highway Code. Candidates are only allowed three attempts.

Part 3: Instructional Ability: The instructional test involves candidates being observed by an examiner whilst giving a one hour driving lesson to a student. Candidates are only allowed three attempts.

As you can see, the DVSA makes sure that instructors are put through their paces before they’re approved and added to the ADI Register. If an instructor uses up all of their attempts on Part 2 or 3, they’ll have to start the process all over again (once it’s been two years since they first passed Part 1).

Registering as a DVSA-approved instructor

Once an instructor has passed all three tests, they can officially register as an ADI. But the DVSA makes sure instructors don’t rest too easy on their laurels, which is why registration only lasts for four years. In order to re-register, ADIs have to pass a standards check. The aim of this is to ensure instructors continue to provide high quality teaching in accordance with DVSA standards and regulations. Instructors can end up removed from the register if they:

  • Don’t meet the DVSA’s required standards
  • Fail to attend the standards check when asked to
  • Refuse to take the standards check

If an ADI doesn’t get it right the first time, they’re allowed two additional attempts. If they’re still not successful, they will need to take their ADI tests again. And that’s not all! When renewing their registration, ADIs have to get a new criminal record disclosure check. They must also still qualify as being a ‘fit and proper’ person. In other words, they need to maintain a good record.

Why is it so important that I learn with a DVSA-approved instructor?

A graphic of an older man in a suit and glasses, representing a driving test examiner

As you now know, driving instructors have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to qualify for the ADI Register. It’s not enough that they have to pass three gruelling tests, they also need to re-register every four years and prove to the DVSA that they’re still worth their salt.

If you’re learning with a DVSA-approved instructor (or a PDI that’s nearly finished their training), then you’re practically guaranteed high quality tuition that’s up-to-date with DVSA standards. As useful as lessons with family and friends are, they really can’t compare to being taught by a professional.

Almost all drivers have picked up bad habits since they first passed their test. As such, the last thing you want is to fail your test because you were taught how to do something against DVSA regulations. Driving instructors, by comparison, know exactly what the DVSA are looking for and will teach you everything you need to know to pass your driving test.

Where can I find a DVSA-approved instructor?

If you’re looking for an instructor in your area, you can use the DVSA’s ADI database. All you’ve got to do is type in your postcode and they’ll give you a list of numbers for instructors who are located in your area. Already got an instructor? Make sure you check your instructor is DVSA-approved!

Alternatively, if you’re looking to get passed as soon as possible, you might want to look at instructors that teach intensive courses. If that’s the case, you don’t have to look further than PassMeFast. Our fleet of driving instructors have the skills and vital knowledge of the local roads tucked up their sleeves. This will be important in preparing you for the roads around your chosen test centre and better prepare you for the practical test.

Whether you opt for an intensive pace or a more semi-intensive approach, your PassMeFast instructor will work lessons around your schedule. They’ll even pick you up from home or your workplace.

If you’re ready to get started on your journey today, it couldn’t be any easier to book in with PassMeFast. Simply take a look at our courses and choose which one is best for you. Then, once you’re ready, book in over the phone on 0333 123 4949 or online. Having trouble deciding which course package to go for? Our course recommender will choose the right one for you!

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