Publication of DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics 2019-20 - Q3

Date published: 26 February 2020

The ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics 2019-20 Q3’ report, containing statistics for October to December 2019, is now available.

DVA statistics report 2019-20 Q3
DVA statistics report 2019-20 Q3

The publication is produced by the DVA Statistics Branch of the Department for Infrastructure and contains summary statistical, performance, and trend information relating to the main functions of the DfI’s Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) and other vehicle licensing activity. 

The publication is available on the DfI website at:


The key points in the report are:

Vehicle Testing

The DVA received almost 258,000 applications for vehicle tests during October to December 2019, up by 2.7% on last year.  In addition, the DVA conducted just over 269,000 vehicle tests, an increase of 3.5% compared to the same period last year, and the highest quarter three total on record.

The pass-rate for full tests was 79.6%, an increase on the 79.3% in the same period last year, and the highest quarter-three pass-rate on record.

Vehicle Licensing

Approximately 14,500 new vehicles were registered in Northern Ireland during July to September 2019.  This is 5.8% lower than the figure recorded for the same period in 2018.  The most popular new private-car was Ford (12%); with white the most popular colour (21%) and petrol the most popular fuel-type (59%).

There were 1,212,000 vehicles licensed in Northern Ireland at 30th September 2019, an increase of 2.4% on last year.  The overwhelming majority (82%) were cars.

Driver Theory Tests

The number of theory tests conducted during the quarter decreased from 2018, from just under 18,300 to 18,100.  The trend has remained steady over the past four years. 

The pass-rate for private-car theory tests was 44.8%, a decrease of 4.8 percentage points on the previous quarter, and the second lowest pass-rate in our time series.

Driving Practical Tests

The DVA conducted just over 14,700 driving tests during October to December 2019, a figure unchanged from the equivalent period last year.  The trend has remained steady over the past four years.

The pass-rate for these tests was 57.7%, broadly unchanged over the past five years.

Driver Licensing

Approximately 60,500 licensing transactions were carried out by DVA during quarter three of 2019-20.  This represents an increase of approximately 2.6% in comparison with the volume carried out in the corresponding period in 2018.  As the period of validity of a driving licence changed from 3 years to 10 years in 1985, this has resulted in a significant cyclical pattern with a peak renewal period during the middle of each decade.

At the 31st December 2019, there were over 1,119,000 full and eligible licence holders with private-cars / light vans entitlement.  This was a rise of 1.3% compared with the total twelve months ago.

Road Transport Licensing

At the 31st December 2019, there were approximately 9,750 licensed taxi drivers, down by 7.1% when compared with the same point of 2018, and the lowest figure in our series.  Similarly, there were nearly 8,700 licensed taxi vehicles, a further decrease of 1.2% when compared to the previous record low in the preceding quarter.


During quarter three of 2019-20, DVA Enforcement staff spot-checked just over 1,000 vehicles, of which 39% were heavy goods vehicles. 

DVA Target Performance Monitoring

For the 12-month period up to the end of December 2019, Agency performance against both the vehicle testing and driving testing performance measures was below the target level of 92%.  Vehicle testing levelled out at a record-low of 73.8%.  Driver testing decreased for the eighth consecutive quarter, from 81.2% to 79.0%.

For 2019-20, the DVA has split its driver licensing target into two categories: online applications and paper applications.  For the April to December 2019 period, online performance was 97.5% processed within 5 days, whilst paper performance was 69.0% processed within 10 days, both against a target of 95%.

Notes to editors: 

Background to Driver & Vehicle Agency ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics’

  1. This is the twenty-first edition of the quarterly publication ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics’, relating to October to December 2019.  The release is written and issued by the DVA Statistics Branch in the Department for Infrastructure. 
  2. The Vehicle Testing section covers a time-period prior to the recent MOT disruptions relating to the lift equipment.
  3. Quarterly comparisons are included within the release to give some indication of change since the same quarter the previous year; however, this is within the context that DVA schedules its operations across the business year to meet its business objectives.  Timing and scheduling differences between individual quarters within different years will occasionally produce apparent large movements in trend.  For a better understanding of changes in DVA volumes and performance over time, annual trend data in the tables should be reviewed.
  4. Data sources - The figures are derived mainly from administrative sources held within the DVA and the DfI’s Transport Regulation Unit. 
  5. Vehicle Registration - Although no longer the responsibility of DVA, for completeness and to provide continuity of reporting, detailed figures have been included in this publication relating to vehicle first registrations and vehicle licensing.  DVA statisticians receive, on a quarterly basis, quality assured vehicle registration and licensing extracts from the DVLA/DfT for the purposes of producing Official Statistics.  The DVLA/DfT are, and continue to be, responsible for all vehicle licensing and registration enquiries.  Due to publication timing differences with the DfT, who release the headline UK figures, the latest available NI vehicle first registration figures are up to end-September 2019.
  6. Future publication dates - The Driver & Vehicle Agency ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics’ is published every quarter at pre-announced release dates, which are available from the GOV.UK website at:
  7. Publication copies - Electronic copies of the ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics 2019-20 Q3’ can be downloaded from:
  8. Both a companion Infographic, and a detailed User Guidance document, are also available on our website at:  

Official Statistics

This is a National Statistics publication and therefore follows the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. You can find further information about the Code of Practice at:

Further Information

For further information please contact:

DVA Statistics Branch,
Driver and Vehicle Agency,
Annex 4, Belfast Test Centre
66 Balmoral Road,
BT12 6QL

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