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P plates and car insurance

One of the most satisfying moments about passing your driving test is finally ditching those bright red L plates.

But when you’re newly qualified, driving can still be a bit scary. Displaying P plates lets other road users know that you’re just starting out. Here we discuss P plates, what they mean and how they affect car insurance.

One of the most satisfying moments about passing your driving test is finally ditching those bright red L plates.

But when you’re newly qualified, driving can still be a bit scary. Displaying P plates lets other road users know that you’re just starting out. Here we discuss P plates, what they mean and how they affect car insurance.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
10 JULY 2023
5 min read
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What is a P plate and what does it stand for?

The ‘P’ in ‘P plate’ stands for “probationary”, with a p plate meaning you’ve only recently passed your driving test. Some people mistake P plates for meaning “passed plates”, however, it essentially means the same thing.

P plates are visible as a green P on your car, and they help other drivers understand your experience and may cause them to change their driving behaviour.

You can display a P plate for as long as you like, until you feel confident to remove it.

What’s the difference between L and P plates?

The main difference between L plates and P plates is that L plates are compulsory for all learner drivers in the UK. P plates (‘probationary’ plates), meanwhile, are for when you’ve just passed your test. It’s up to you whether you use them.

Are P plates a legal requirement?

No, P plates are not a legal requirement. You do not have to have P plates on your car. They’re entirely optional.

You can choose to display P plates on your car after passing your driving test. You can also display them for as long as you like.

Should I use P plates?

P plates can be a good idea for newly qualified drivers. The benefits of using new driver plates include:

  • Letting other drivers know that you’re inexperienced
  • Encouraging other motorists to be more patient with you
  • Helping you build confidence as you get used to driving on your own.

Will P plates affect the cost of my car insurance?

Unfortunately, P plates won’t mean you get cheaper car insurance. As a new driver, you’re still considered high risk - even with P plates.

This means you should expect to pay more for your car insurance than more experienced drivers.

As you become more experienced and start to develop good driving habits, you should be more likely to avoid incidents. Over time you can build up a no-claims discount. This could help reduce the cost of your car insurance later on.

Where to put P plates on a car in the UK

Unlike L plates, there are no P plate rules in the UK. However, it’s best to follow that example:

P plates should be placed on the front and back of your car, where they can be clearly seen. They mustn’t block the driver’s view.

Can I get cheaper car insurance as a P-plate driver?

Yes, even as a P-plate driver, there are still ways to help lower the cost of your car insurance:

  • Black box telematics insurance. This is where a small device or app records how you drive and sends the information to your insurance provider. If you drive well, you could get a discount on your car insurance.
  • Some insurance providers may offer cheaper car insurance to newly qualified drivers who take a Pass Plus advanced driving course
  • Choose your first car wisely – a standard car with a smaller engine will be cheaper to insure than a big, sporty model. 
  • Where you park overnight could affect your car insurance. Parking off the street on a driveway can reduce the risk of your car being damaged or stolen. This could mean paying less for your premium. 

Compare cheap car insurance

Another way to find cheaper car insurance is to shop around and compare quotes. 

At Compare the Market, we independently compare a wide range of trusted car insurance providers to help new drivers find a competitive deal. 

Compare car insurance with us today and see if you can find a cheaper deal. 

Frequently asked questions

Where can I buy P plates?

P plates are easy to come by – you can get them everywhere from Halfords to Amazon.

You can choose between magnetic P plates and stickers.

Can I print my own P plates?

Yes, you can print your own P plates.

There’s no law against printing your own P plates – and you can find plenty of downloadable templates online. But they need to be exactly the right size. You’ll also need to make sure they’re durable and don’t disintegrate at the first sign of rain.

What are ‘R’ plates?

‘Restricted’ driver R plates are a legal requirement for new drivers in Northern Ireland.

You must clearly display amber R plates on your car for one year after you pass your driving test.

I’m a learner driver

If you’re only learning with a driving instructor, you won’t need insurance as you’ll be covered under their policy. But if you want to practice between lessons, you’ll need learner driver insurance.

Another option is to get a relative or friend to add you to their policy – however this can be expensive. It could also mean that your relative or friend ends up being penalised if you have an accident.

Looking for a car insurance quote?

Compare car insurance quotes with us today and see if you could start saving.

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Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

Learn more about Kate

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