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Becoming an approved driving instructor

To become an approved driving instructor (ADI) you need to apply to the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). You'll have to pass three qualifying tests to become an ADI. Find out what's involved, if it's the career for you, and how to apply to get started.

What an ADI does

Your responsibility

You'll be responsible for developing a high standard of driving behaviour among new drivers

Being an ADI involves more than teaching someone to drive. You'll be responsible for developing a high standard of driving behaviour among new drivers. Most will be young and inexperienced.

As an ADI you'll have to show a:

  • high regard for all aspects of road safety
  • high standard of driving and instructional ability
  • professional approach to your customers
  • responsible attitude to your pupils and profession

Illegal driving instruction

It's illegal to give driving instruction for a fee if you aren't qualified and registered with DSA.


  • investigates every case of suspected illegal driving tuition
  • works closely with the police to take possible offenders to court

Who can be an ADI

DSA keeps a register of all ADIs. You'll be allowed onto the register if you:

  • hold a full UK, European Union or European Economic Area unrestricted car driving licence
  • have held the car driving licence for at least four out of the past six years before you join the register when you qualify
  • have not been disqualified from driving at any time in the four years before you join the register
  • are a 'fit and proper' person to have your name entered on the register, taking into account any motoring convictions and any other criminal record

Criminal record check

You will need to have a criminal record check when you apply, and then every four years if you choose to extend your registration.

DSA will take all offences into account when assessing your suitability to be an ADI. This includes fixed penalties such as speeding, as well as convictions and cautions.

You can find out how DSA deals with criminal records on the Business Link website.

Becoming an ADI if you have disability

If you have a disability, you can still apply to become an ADI. If you hold an unrestricted driving licence, you can apply as normal. If your driving licence is limited to driving automatics, you can only give instruction in cars with automatic transmission.

Before DSA considers your application, you'll have to take an 'emergency control assessment'. You'll be assessed on your ability to take control of a vehicle in an emergency from the front passenger seat.

Deciding if a career as an ADI is for you

Your career as an ADI

A career as an ADI will be very demanding - you might have to work unsociable hours to fit in with your pupils' needs

A career as an ADI is very demanding, but can also be very rewarding.

An ADI needs:

  • patience
  • understanding
  • an ability to teach
  • the ability to get on with people
  • a thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of driving
  • the ability to provide a professional service to people from different backgrounds
  • business sense

Your responsibility for safety

You'll be responsible for the safety of:

  • yourself
  • your pupils
  • other road users

When you'll be working

The nature of the ADI business means that you might have to work unsociable hours to fit in with your pupils' needs. You must be able to teach the last lesson of the day as professionally as the first.

How busy you are and how much you earn will depend on your own ability to market your skills.

The tests you'll need to take to become an ADI

Watch videos about the ADI qualifying tests

The qualifying process will usually take many months to complete.

You have to take and pass three tests to become an ADI. They are:

  • theory (part one)
  • driving ability assessment (part two)
  • test of instructional ability (part three)

You have to pass both parts two and three within two years of passing part one.

Pass rate for the qualifying tests

The qualifying process is not easy, and the pass rates are low. In 2009-10, the pass rate for the test of instructional ability was 34 per cent.

How to apply to become an ADI

DSA produces a guide called 'Your guide to the approved driving instructor register'. You can download this guide using the link below.

How to start the application process

If, after reading this guide, you are still interested in becoming an ADI, use the link below to go to the Business Link website. You can start the application process from there.

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Additional links

Already an ADI?

Information and services for current ADIs are on the Business Link website

The Highway Code

Read The Highway Code online

Driving test fees

Find out the cost of theory and practical driving tests when you book on Directgov

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