Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon, has announced that Northern Ireland Driving Tests will resume on 1 September. It’s understood that tests for key workers will be prioritised, followed by those whose tests were cancelled due to coronavirus lockdown measures. Here’s what we know.
Following the resumption of driving theory tests in Northern Ireland on 6 July, practical driving tests in the country will restart on 1 September.
Nichola Mallon welcomed their return, saying: “I very much recognise the frustrations of those customers not able to take driving tests during this time and the inconvenience this has caused.”
“I am pleased to announce that the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) plans to resume car and lorry driving tests from 1 September, initially prioritising over 200 key workers and then those customers who have had tests cancelled to ensure they are not further inconvenienced, with the priority of keeping staff and customers safe.”
However, Ms Mallon warned that waiting times for Northern Ireland driving tests would be longer than usual, initially.
Some Northern Ireland Driving Tests Restarted
Prior to Ms Mallon’s announcement, some Northern Ireland driving test services had already restarted for licence categories where testing could be done safely and in accordance with Public Health Agency advice and guidance on social distancing requirements.
Motorcycle rider testing resumed on 6 July, while tests for tractors, buses and module 4 CPC tests for lorry, bus and coach drivers restarted on 20 July.
The DVA is expecting high demand for Northern Ireland driving tests, especially since Ms Mallon had extended the validity of theory test certificates.
Mallon recently announced amendments to driving licence regulations that will allow for an eight-month extension of theory test pass certificates, which expire between 1 March and 31 October 2020.
A six-month extension was also announced for off-road motorcycle test pass certificates expiring between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020.
Across the UK, lockdown measures have created a significant backlog and there’s no timeline for how long they will take to clear.
In England, frustration was growing among learner drivers and instructors, with the government remaining tight-lipped until recently announcing that practical driving tests would restart on 22 July.
Driving tests in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be very different to what they were prior to the coronavirus, so candidates are being urged to check health guidelines prior to taking a driving test to ensure their test isn’t cancelled for failing to comply.
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