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Approved Driving Instructor (ADI)

Your Road To Becoming An Approved Driving Instructor

The Qualification And Registration Process

The Register of Approved Driving Instructors (ADI) was introduced in October 1964 on a voluntary basis.

Approximately one year later more than 3000 driving instructors had qualified and could claim the title of 'Ministry of Transport Approved Driving Instructor'.

In October 1970 new legislation was introduced. From that date anyone who wished to give paid driving instruction in cars had to qualify and have their name entered into the Register by law.

There have been changes to its structure and the qualifying process over the years and today's driving instructors are known as Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructors (Car).

The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is an executive agency of the Group. The Agency is responsible for conducting all statutory theory and practical driving tests in Great Britain. The Agency also has responsibility for maintaining the Register of Approved Driving Instructors through the powers vested in the Registrar of ADIs.

The Function Of The ADI Register

The Register was set up in the interests of road safety to maintain and improve the standard of car driving instruction available to the general public. It ensures that the public can rely upon an acceptable minimum standard of driving tuition from registered driving instructors.

It is administered by DSA under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This Act makes it illegal for anyone to charge (either money or monies worth) for instruction in driving a motor car unless their name is on the Register of Approved Driving Instructors or they hold a trainee's 'Licence' to give instruction' issued by the Registrar.

The legal requirements are contained in The Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended) and The Motor Cars (Driving Instruction) Regulations 2005 (as amended).

Responsibilities Of An ADI

An ADI has a very important role to fulfil. This extends beyond teaching someone to drive a motor car; you will be responsible for instilling high standards of driving and behaviour into new drivers, many of whom are young and inexperienced. The job is very demanding but can also be extremely rewarding.

As an ADI you will be expected to demonstrate:

  • A high regard for all aspects of road safety
  • A high standard of driving and instructional ability
  • A professional approach to your customers
  • A responsible attitude to your pupils and profession
  • That you are a fit and proper person

Deciding If This Is The Career For You


Your job will involve mixing with all sorts of people, some of whom you may not find it easy to get on with.

You will need good people skills and a lot of patience and understanding, as well as:

  • A thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of driving
  • An ability to teach
  • A facility to keep abreast of changes in the statutory regulations that govern the content and conduct of driving tests as well as driving instruction
  • An ability to provide a professional service to people from very diverse backgrounds
  • Business sense

The nature of the job means that you will probably have to work unsociable hours to fit in with your pupils' needs.

You will be responsible for your own safety, that of your pupil and other road users.

You will need a high level of concentration throughout your working day. Your last lesson of the day has to be conducted with the same enthusiasm and competence as your first, which can be difficult.

You might consider starting your own driving school.

Having to run your own business in an effective and efficient manner will put extra demands on you and may extend your working day.

You will generally need to recruit your pupils in competition with other ADIs.

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

DSA and the driving instruction industry place great emphasis on professional standards and business ethics.

A voluntary code of practice has been agreed and is the framework within which an instructor should seek to operate. Details of this code are included at Annex A.

You should not embark upon this career lightly.

The qualifying process is tough, the pass rate low, and it can be expensive and time consuming.

You should expect the qualifying process to take many months to complete.

The benefits of becoming a fully qualified instructor are:

  • You will be self-employed
  • You can choose what hours you work
  • If you are successful you can generate a reasonable income
  • An opportunity for a high level of job satisfaction
  • An opportunity to teach new drivers a life skill

"Safe Driving For Life"

Legal Requirements

When applying to become a driving instructor, you must fulfil the following legal requirements:

  • Hold a full UK or European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) unrestricted car driving licence; any EU/EEA licence must either be exchanged for a GB licence or a Community Licence.
  • Advice on exchange of foreign licences can be obtained from DVLA.
  • Have held it for a total of at least four out of the past six years prior to entering the Register after qualifying. A foreign driving licence, an automatic car driving licence or a provisional licence held after passing the driving test, all count towards the four years.
  • Not have been disqualified from driving at any time in the four years prior to being entered in the Register.
  • Be a "fit and proper" person to have your name entered in the Register. All spent and unspent convictions, motoring and non-motoring will be taken into account when we assess your suitability to be entered on the Register. This includes fixed penalty offences such as speeding. The decision rests with the Registrar, who will take into account any motoring convictions acquired in the last six years and/or your criminal record, if any. Any motoring offence(s) which result in current endorsements totaling five penalty points or more will be looked at closely and could result in an application being refused.
  • Pass the two qualifying practical examinations within two years of passing the theory and hazard perception tests.
  • Apply for registration within 12 months of passing the final part of the examination.

In addition, the law states that you cannot accompany a person learning to drive unless you have held a full UK or EU/EEA driving licence for three years and are aged 21 or over.

A full licence issued in another country will count towards this three year period, provided it is accepted under the 'exchange' scheme (for more details of the exchange scheme you should read section four of the DVLA booklet D100 'What you need to know about driving licences' available at most Post Offices).

Once your application has been accepted, you will be allocated a Personal Reference Number (PRN).

This will stay the same throughout your career and you should quote it in all correspondence with us.

Criminal Records Check (CRB)

Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar you from being accepted as a potential driving instructor.

The DSA explain how they assess the suitability of ex-offenders to apply to join the Register of Approved Driving Instructors in their Suitability Statement.

This is available on the DSA websites and is included in the starter pack.

The DSA statement on how we handle disclosure information is also available on their websites.

The Role And Powers Of The Registrar

The Registrar can:

  • Refuse admission to, or the right to remain on, the Register if a person fails to meet the legal requirements.
  • Remove an ADI from the Register in certain circumstances. For example, where a person has failed to meet the 'fit and proper' requirement (usually this is because the ADI has been convicted of an offence (motoring or non-motoring) but it might also be where their professional conduct has brought the Register into disrepute), has failed a check test (see p32) or refused to attend for a check test.
  • Refuse re-admission to a person who was previously removed for any of the above reasons.

Appealing Against The Registrar's Decision

Should the Registrar decide not to approve your application to join the Register, you have the right of appeal to the Independent Transport Tribunal.

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