Explained is how to tell if a driving licence is automatic

How to Tell if a Driving Licence is Automatic

If you’re wondering how to tell the difference between a manual and automatic licence, you need to turn it over and look at the codes on the back of the licence. We’ll no go through what these columns, codes and numbers mean so you’ll know how to tell if a driving licence is automatic.

  1. This column displays the various driving licence categories that are available, most of which require additional training and tests to be completed. Alongside the categories are pictograms that depict the type of vehicle represented by the category.
  2. This column details the date in which a particular category is valid from. From the image of this automatic driving licence, we can see that this driver is licensed to drive five difference categories:
    • AM: Moped
    • B: Car
    • fkq: f, k and q represents three different categories (see below)
  3. This column displays the dates in which a particular category is valid till.
  4. The numbers in this column represent restriction codes. This column is how you can tell if a driving licence is automatic. Code number 78 in the licence category B means this driver is restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission. For a manual licence, there will be no code number / restrictions within the B category.
  5. On a driving licence, fkq stands for the following categories:
    • f: Agricultural tractor.
    • k: Mowing machine or pedestrian-controlled vehicle.
    • q: 2-wheeled and 3-wheeled vehicles without pedals and with an engine size not more than 50 cc if powered by an internal combustion engine and a maximum speed of no more than 25 km/h (15.5 mph).
    • You may also have category P on your licence. This allows you to drive 2-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 45km/h (28mph) but not more than 50km/h (31mph). Its engine size must not be more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine.
  6. If on the bottom-left of your driving licence you see the code 115, it means you are a registered organ donor.

Driving Licences with More Categories

You may have noticed that some driving licences have more driver entitled categories, even though they haven’t passed any additional tests.

This is because test candidates that passed the driving test before January 1st 1997 automatically acquired the extra licence categories BE, C1, C1E, D1 and D1E.  Drivers that passed the test after this date would have far fewer category entitlements and limited to AM, B, f, k and m. 

In order to drive the vehicles that would have automatically had entitlement on a driver’s licence prior to January 1st 1997, a driver must now pass a test for that category of vehicle.

33 thoughts on “How to Tell if a Driving Licence is Automatic”

    1. Hello Sreedharacharya,
      The ’70’ means that your licence was exchanged and the following letters, in your case ‘AE’ is the code from the country that it was exchanged from. If you have no other codes in your category B column, for example; code 78 that restricts the licence holder to vehicles with automatic transmission only, then it means you’re licensed to drive both automatic and manual transmission vehicles.

      1. Hi,
        I have got 70 AE and 78 in category B. Can u clarify if i can drive manual and automatic transmission cars or only automatic.

        1. Hello Ameena,
          The driving licence code 70, under category B means that your licence was exchanged. The ‘AE’ part is the country from where it was exchanged. Also under category B, code ’78’ means that you’re restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission. Your licence entitles you to drive automatic / semi-automatic cars, but not cars with a manual transmission (clutch pedal).

      2. I have 70AE code Driving License And I Traning For lgv Automatic Truck After i pass my Test Can I Drive Automatic Truck or Mannul also ?

        1. Learn Automatic

          Hi Varinder,
          The 70AE is reference to your licence being exchanged and the country it was exchanged from. If you pass a driving test in a vehicle with automatic transmission, you’ll be restricted to the category of vehicle you passed the test in, but with automatic transmission only. If you wanted to drive the category of vehicle with manual transmission, you’ll need to pass the test in a vehicle with manual transmission.

    1. Hello Ma,
      I assume the 01 code is within the restriction column on the right? Code 01 on your driving licence means that you must wear glasses or contact lenses while driving. If you don’t have the restriction code 78, then you are licensed to drive both manual and automatic transmission.

    1. Learn Automatic

      Hello Carol,
      If you look on the back of your driver’s licence, bottom left, if you are on the organ donation list, you will see the code 115.

    1. Hi Daryan,
      Under column 12 on your licence (marked as number 4 on the image), if you have any numbers in this column, they are restrictions on your licence. Under category B, if you have a code 78, it means you have an automatic licence. There will not be a code in there if you can drive a manual car.

    1. Hi Olatokunbo,

      Code 01 on your driving licence is due to eyesight correction. For example, when driving, you must wear your glasses or contact lenses.

  1. Hi there. I have the numbers 79(3) under column 12 on catagory A, what does that mean? I also have 118 under column 12 in category fkpq? Thanks

    1. Hi Wendy,
      Under category A (motorcycles), code 79 (3) means that you’re restricted to riding tricycles. The licence code 118 means ‘start date is for earliest entitlement’. Code 118 basically means you can start using the specified machinery from the date that you obtained your licence.

    1. Hi Sajo,
      If you have a code 95 entitlement on your licence, you can get a GB Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) card by exchanging your licence for a GB licence. The card is sometimes called a Driver Qualification Card (DQC). You must carry this card while driving a lorry, bus or coach professionally.

    1. Learn Automatic

      Hi Jose,

      Since February 2001, an individual who’s passed their car driving test will be required to take a moped riding course before they’re entitled to ride a moped on a public road.
      Driving licence code: 122 – valid on successful completion: Basic Moped Training Course.

      Code 122 means a driver cannot ride a moped on the road do this until they’ve successfully completed a basic moped training course.

  2. hi
    i have exchanged my UAE licence to UK licence and i have got a code written on bottom left corner (70. ARE 01 .78 ) does it mean i cant drive manual ?? as my exchanged licence was manual licence

    please tell how to change to manual


    1. Learn Automatic

      Hi Joy,
      Yes, the code 78 refers to being restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission. The DVLA do this with some countries and the onus is on the licence holder to prove that they passed in a manual vehicle. That in itself is generally quite impossible, usually leaving the only option being to take a UK driving test in a manual car.

  3. Hi passed my bus test and i dont have any codes at the side like 78 does this mean i can drive manuel buses thanks

  4. Hi, I originally passed my test in an automatic. But I have recently passed my manual test. Will there be anything on my new licence saying I used to have an automatic licence?

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