The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has cancelled all driving tests in England, Scotland and Wales.
All theory tests are suspended from Friday, March 20 until Friday, April 20 while all practical tests have been halted for up to three months.
The licencing body said the decision had been made to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as tests lead to extended contact between candidates and examiners in vehicles.
In Northern Ireland, which has a separate testing system, all tests have been suspended for three months from Friday, March 20.
The DVSA said that it had put plans in place to provide emergency driving tests for people who provide critical services.
Announcing the move, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Since it’s impossible to maintain social distancing over a prolonged period we have suspended driver testing for the next 3 months in a further move to protect the public in our national battle against COVID19.
“It is vital that those who need a test can get one so DVSA is offering tests to those who have a critical need, such as the NHS and drivers delivering goods across the UK.”
Those who can still apply for an emergency driving test include anyone whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or whowork in a critical sector.
health and social careeducation and childcarekey public serviceslocal and national governmentfood and other necessary goodspublic safety and national securitytransportutilities, communication and financial services
To book an emergency theory test, email [email protected] DVSA will then tell you what you need to send to prove that it’s essential your theory test goes ahead.
To book an emergency practical driving test email [email protected] DVSA will then tell you what you need to send to prove that it’s essential your driving test goes ahead.
Drivers whose theory tests have been cancelled will receive a refund and a notification when they can rebook the test.
Those whose practical test has been cancelled will automatically have it rebooked free of charge. They will be notified of the new date approximately two weeks before their original test date and the new test is likely to be around three months after their original date.
Responding to the announcement Tom Hixon, head of instructor support at Bill Plant Driving School, commented: “We’re sure that there are many test-ready Britons around the UK that are going to be disappointed by this news, however we all need to respect the unprecedented measures set by the DVSA via Government advice due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We trust the DVSA will take this time to consider their ongoing approach to driving tests moving forwards, and ensuring that the safety of the students, driving instructors and examiners is at the forefront of everything that happens.
“Positively, it will allow the pupils to have more time to practise and perfect their safe driving skills – whether that be with their qualified driving instructor or through private practice with their family.”
Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School said the news was disappointing but understandable.
“We realise that health and safety must be a priority at the moment, but we had hoped that the DVSA would have been able to continue running tests in some shape or form. It is important to get new drivers mobile so they can support community efforts to help those in need.
“We would encourage students to continue to prepare for the time when test centres re-open and there are a number of online resources, such as RED's Road Brain Trainer which is free for all RED learners, that can help with driving test knowledge and improve driving skills without leaving their home."