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Becoming a driving instructor

Aim of this page

There are approximately 40,000 driving instructors in the UK and every year there are around 1.5 million attempts at the driving test. At any one time there can be more pupils looking for lessons than there are instructors who can take them on, making this a popular career choice.

The aim of this page is to set out how a criminal record may affect your chances of becoming a driving instructor.

Why is this important?

To legally charge somebody for driving instruction in a car you must either:-

  • Be on the Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) Register
  • Have a trainee’s licence to give instruction by the ADI Registrar

You’ll need to meet the ‘fit and proper’ person criteria to become approved or get a trainee’s licence and it’s important therefore to understand how your criminal record may affect your chances of successfully getting onto the ADI Register.

 ADI Registrar:  Its role and powers

The ADI Registrar is responsible for the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency’s ADI Register and can:-

  • Refuse to let you join or stay on the register if you don’t meet the registration rules
  • Remove you from the register in certain circumstances
  • Refuse readmission to you if you were previously removed for any of the above reasons

Responsibilities of an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI)

As an ADI, you will be responsible for your own safety, that of your pupil and other road users.

You will be expected to show:-

  • 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’re a ‘fit and proper’ person

The ‘fit and proper’ criteria

When deciding if you’re a ‘fit and proper’ person, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will check to see if you have:-

  • Had any motoring or non-motoring cautions or convictions
  • Any penalty points on your licence
  • Been disqualified from driving
  • Been banned or barred from working with children under 18 years of age
  • Any court proceedings pending against you

Disclosing your criminal record

The DVSA will ask you to provide a copy of your enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service certificate at the time of applying to become an ADI.

They will carry out an initial risk assessment and may seek further representations from you. These will be assessed and a recommendation made to the Registrar.

Factors taken into account by the DVSA

Before reaching a decision as to whether you are a ‘fit and proper’ person, the DVSA will assess the risk that you may pose to your pupils by considering:

  • Whether your caution, conviction or other information revealed is relevant
  • The seriousness and circumstances surrounding your offence
  • Whether your conviction was part of a pattern of offending
  • What you have done to change your situation since you were convicted, i.e. any courses you’ve taken or treatment programmes attended etc.

What are the chances of your application being successful?

There are some situation where it’s very unlikely that your application would be accepted. These include:

Motoring offences


  • You have been disqualified from driving within the last 4 years
  • Where you have been found guilty of driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs within the last 4 years
  • Your DVLA record shows you’ve been issued with a single fixed penalty notice, where 5 or more penalty points have been sustained
  • Your licence has 6 or more penalty points within the last 3 years under the totting up rules.

Non-motoring offences

This includes where:

  • You have been convicted of a sexual offence
  • You are on the sex offenders register
  • You have been convicted (or in some cases cautioned) for offences involving assault, drugs, fraud or theft and in particular, offences involving theft of tuition fees
  • You have been convicted or cautioned for providing illegal instruction, for example providing instruction for money or monies worth, while not registered or granted a trainee licence
  • You have been banned or barred from working with children under 18 years of age.

Appealing a driving instructor registration decision

You can appeal to an independent tribunal (the General Regulatory Chamber) if you disagree with a decision about your registration as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). The tribunal is independent of the government. You have 28 days in which to appeal a registration decision.

Further information on appealing can be found on the HM Courts and Tribunal Service website.

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information on Employment
  2. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum

This page was last fully reviewed and updated in October 2017. If you’ve spotted something that needs updating, please let us know by emailing the details to



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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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