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Complete Guide to Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 19 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Licence Photocard Renewal Photo

In theory, renewing your UK driving licence is routine. Before the expiry of your photocard driving licence or your old-style all-paper driving licence, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) sends a renewal form. You complete the form and follow the instructions that come with it. This apparent simplicity is not always borne out by the facts. According to DVLA figures, for example, two million photocard driving licences are out of date. Furthermore, to judge by the comments we receive, not everyone sees the process of renewal as straightforward.

Failing to Renew

I was recently stopped by the police for speeding. The police asked to see my driving licence, which I gave them. I was genuinely surprised when they told me it had expired and I faced a fine for not renewing it. I thought I didn't have to renew it until I'm 70. I'm confused. Can you give me any advice?

Although a paper counterpart driving licence has an expiry date that matches the holder's 70th birthday, you have to renew a photocard driving licence every 10 years. It is an offence to:

  • Fail to surrender the photocard driving licence to DVLA after this time
  • To fail to produce a new photo

Fine for Not Renewing

The police recently summonsed me to court for motoring offences, one of which included a failure to renew my photocard driving licence. I was expecting a £1,000 fine for the latter - at least that's what a friend who works at a solicitor's told me - but I got a penalty of £100 instead. Can you tell me why?

DVLA recommends a fine of up to £1,000 for a failure to surrender a photocard driving licence on expiry. However, the police have discretion about the level of any fine. According to government figures, from 2010 the police have intercepted around 734,000 drivers with an expired photocard driving licence. These drivers have paid fines totalling £41 million. The average fine is £55.86.

Avoiding a Fine

The best way to avoid a fine is to renew your photocard driving licence on time. Check the date given at "4b" on the front of your photocard. This is the date of expiry.

I have just realised my photo UK driving licence expired last month. I had no idea it needed renewing. Can you tell me what's the best and quickest solution please?

If your photocard driving licence has expired, you should complete the renewal process without delay. The quickest way to do this is online on the DVLA website.

DVLA advises that the time you have to wait for a renewal licence is approximately two weeks if you apply online. When you apply by post or at a post office, you could wait three weeks.

How Do I Get My Photo to the DVLA Using the Online Service?

You can only renew online if you have a passport that is less than five years old (e.g it is less than five years since you last renewed it). The DVLA uses the photo stored with your passport for you new photocard. (So if you don't want your passport photo on your driving licence, this is not the route to take!)

When renewing online, you will also need to be able to pay by credit or debit card and you'll have to have your national insurance number and current driving licence number with you.

Confusion Over Licence Types

If you have an old-style all-paper driving licence you don't need to renew it until you are 70. You then apply for a photocard driving licence.

Since 1998, new drivers have received a photocard driving licence and a paper counterpart driving licence rather than an old-style all-paper driving licence.

The main difference between the photocard driving licence and the paper counterpart is that the counterpart lists endorsements.

The paper counterpart driving licence is not the equivalent of the old-style all-paper driving licence. In fact, DVLA is abolishing the paper counterpart driving licence in 2015.

I have an old-style paper licence. Do I need to apply for a new-style photo licence? I am driving abroad later this year and never had a problem with the paper licence before.

There is no legal obligation to change an old-style all-paper driving licence to a new photocard driving licence until you are 70. The old-style all-paper driving licence is valid abroad although in some countries you may also need an IDP (International Driving Permit).

Even so, if you wish to change an old-style all-paper driving licence to a photocard driving licence before you are 70, you can do so. You will have to pay a fee, though.

Renewing at Age 70

I'm fast approaching 70 - too fast! And I'm under the impression I have to re-take my driving test when I hit the big seven o before I can renew it. This seems totally unnecessary. I'm still a competent driver. Is it true I have to sit another test?

If you are in good health and otherwise allowed to drive, you do not have to take a test when you reach 70. But you must renew your driving licence at age 70 and every three years thereafter.

Moving Abroad

Like many other people, you may live or work abroad. While abroad, your UK driving licence could expire.

My wife's driving licence is out of date. We moved to Cyprus shortly before it expired and we do not have a permanent address in the UK. How can we renew the licence?

If you do not have a permanent address in the UK, the following rule applies.

You can only renew your driving licence if you normally live in the UK. "Normally live" means you must reside in the UK for a minimum of 185 days in each calendar year.

Returning to the UK

Many people have concerns about how they can renew their UK driving licences when they return to Britain. The circumstances for each situation vary but some common rules apply.

I have been living overseas for the past six years and plan to return to the UK in the near future. However, my UK driving licence expired in March 2012. I have a valid Omani driving licence. Can I drive using that until I get a new British licence? Or can I renew my licence online just before I return to the UK? I have no UK address yet.

You cannot apply online for a new licence from DVLA before returning to the UK. Once back in the country, however, you can use an Omani licence for the time being and re-apply for a UK licence when you have a permanent UK address.

I am a British Citizen and passed my driving test originally in Jersey in the Channel Islands. I moved to Ireland five years ago and had to exchange my licence for an Irish (EU) licence. I have since relocated to the UK and have just realised that my Irish licence expired at the end of 2010. I now want to exchange my Irish licence for a UK licence and wonder if this will be accepted, given that my Irish licence has expired.

You can exchange a driving licence issued in an EU country such as the Republic of Ireland for a UK licence. You should do this within the first year of living in the UK. The EU driving licence does not have to be current.

I am a British citizen and have been living in the USA for the past 13 years. My British licence lapsed ten years ago and I have been driving on a US (Oklahoma) licence since then, which includes car and motorcycle. My question is this: if I returned to the UK in the near future, would I have to take another driving test for car and motorcycle? At the time of writing I am 80 years old.

It is not possible to exchange a US driving licence for a UK one although you can drive for a year in Britain on an American licence. If you have a lapsed UK licence, you can apply for renewal without taking another driving test. When returning to the UK, a driver's age does not matter except that you have to renew your driving licence every three years after 70.

New Driving Licence Rules from 19 January 2013

I'm told that the EU has introduced changes to driving licences from January 2013. I'm a car driver and a British citizen. How do these changes affect me?

The EU Third Directive on driving licences became law on 19th January 2013. The law introduced the following changes.

  • The number of categories on the back of the photocard driving licence has increased.
  • The minimum age requirement that applies to some categories has changed.
  • Lorry, bus and minibus drivers must meet new requirements when renewing their driving licences.

The new rules do not mean that you have to apply for another photocard driving licence. When you renew your licence on expiry you receive the new-style photocard.

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[Add a Comment]
My driving license expired last year can I still renew it? I don't have uk passport so I understand I have to apply by post office.
Juliana - 19-Sep-18 @ 8:08 PM
Kiltedkiwi - Your Question:
I have indefinite leave to remain in UK and have lived here for 20 + years on a Australian passport. My drivers licence has expired but when I try to renew it says I must have a valid British passport.Can you please tell me how I can apply on line without this ?

Our Response:
You may have to apply by post or at a post office see other ways to apply here
YourDrivingLicence - 18-Sep-18 @ 2:26 PM
I haveindefinite leave to remain in UK and have lived here for 20 + years on a Australian passport. My drivers licence has expired but when I try to renew it says I must have a valid British passport . Can you please tell me how I can apply on line without this ?
Kiltedkiwi - 17-Sep-18 @ 8:48 PM
I have been living in Singapore (Permanent Resident) for over 2 years. I have obtained/swapped my UK license for Singaporean license as required by law. I am now returning to the UK and want to know how long I have to obtain/swap my Singaporean license for UK license?
Banksy - 15-Sep-18 @ 6:39 AM
my photo licence is 6 yrs out of date,ive just renewed on line today how long does it take to arrive in post and will i have a fine,
h - 12-Sep-18 @ 8:11 PM
My partners provisional driving licence photocard has expired and he needs to renew it to start lessons again. His passport is more than 5 years old so it looks like he can't renew online. What form does he need to get from the post office to complete this renewal?
Emb - 23-Aug-18 @ 11:56 PM
My hgv license ia away for renewal can i still travel to france whilst it is away, or do i need to hsve it in my possession. Cheers mad mitch.
Madmitch - 21-Aug-18 @ 10:42 AM
Hi I just moved back to Uk after 8 years abroard. I realise my licence is out of date from July and it’s now August. Can I still drive for 6O days from expiration? Is there anyway to fast track a new licence? Can I get it delivered to the post office as my official address is still rented out. Or a temporary address as I am staying with a family member at the moment? Thankyou??
Lissie - 20-Aug-18 @ 6:02 PM
My new license arrived with an out of date picture on it despite having an updated one on my passport and submitting a new photograph! How do I rectify this please?
Bill - 14-Aug-18 @ 9:19 PM
Unknown to me my UK driving licence expired in 2016. I currently live in South Africa. Can I reapply for my licence online?
Ju - 27-Jul-18 @ 11:34 AM
Hi my husbands UK drivers license has expired for over 6 years, he wasn’t aware of this as each year our car insurance broker used his original photo license & my husband thought with the paper form it was valid until the age of 70! We live in Ireland but he travels back & to the UK. He has renewed his British passport within the last 5 years. What do you advise him to do to get an upto date UK drivers license please?
Eats - 18-Jul-18 @ 11:59 AM
Hi my husbands UK drivers license has expired for over 6 years, he wasn’t aware of this as each year our car insurance broker used his original photo license & my husband thought with the paper form it was valid until the age of 70! We live in Ireland but he travels back & to the UK. He has renewed his British passport within the last 5 years. What do you advise him to do to get an upto date UK drivers license please?
Eats - 18-Jul-18 @ 11:59 AM
Tinyade - Your Question:
Please advise.My UK drivers license expired in October, 2015. Am in the UK at the moment and would like to renew it but am not sure if I would be required to take another test or I could just apply for a new one? If so, which form could use please. You assistance is greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
You should be able to renew this online or at a post office. You will need DLVA pack D1 to apply if you can't do it online.
YourDrivingLicence - 2-Jul-18 @ 1:58 PM
Please advise...... My UK drivers license expired in October, 2015. Am in the UK at the moment and would like to renew it but am not sure if I would be required to take another test or I could just apply for a new one? If so, which form could use please. You assistance is greatly appreciated.
Tinyade - 29-Jun-18 @ 1:19 PM
Tina - Your Question:
I couldnt renew my drivers license on time as my passport renewal hadnt arrive in time. how can I now renew my expired drivers license

Our Response:
You can try rewning online if your passport renewal has already been sent off (it might have been processed). If that doesnt work, you can apply via post or the post office with a passport style photo.
YourDrivingLicence - 13-Jun-18 @ 3:26 PM
Hi, I have lived in the UK for 6 years but still have an irish license. It is about to expire so do I need to get a UK one now? Is there a different format to complete?
Geoff - 10-Jun-18 @ 8:30 PM
i couldnt renew my drivers license on time as my passport renewal hadnt arrive in time. how can i now renew my expired drivers license
Tina - 10-Jun-18 @ 11:15 AM
I have a Jersey licence that I wish to renew but I am 70 this year. Do I need to take a test or can I renew online
JOHNNYSMITH - 30-May-18 @ 12:38 PM
Lilly - Your Question:
Hi I need to renew my UK licence after 10 years. My address & name has changed so I have the D1 form. I don't hold a British passport but have a republic of Ireland passport. How shall I move forward on section 5 and what else can I send? Thanks

Our Response:
If you don't haveUK passport If you do not have a digital UK passport, you can send other documents to prove your identity. The DVLA will accept:
A passport, travel document, or
ABiometric Residence Permit (BRP), or
An EC/EEA National Identity Card
If you are sending one of these, you must provide a recent passport style photo of yourself.
YourDrivingLicence - 11-May-18 @ 11:24 AM
Hi I need to renew my UK licence after 10 years. My address & name has changed so I have the D1 form. I don't hold a British passport but have a republic of Ireland passport. How shall I move forward on section 5 and what else can I send? Thanks
Lilly - 9-May-18 @ 7:18 PM
Hi. My 10yr driving licence is shortly due for renewal.However I am unable to do so online as I have a Republic of Ireland passport.I live in the UK so how do I renew and what ID us required please?
Paula - 3-May-18 @ 11:02 PM
Karen - Your Question:
Hi, Some advice please. I have a UK licence and live in Southern Ireland. I have only just realized that my photo id expired in 2015. How do I go about renewing this? Can I do it online? I do have a UK passport.Thanks

Our Response:
Try renewing online first of all. If that doesn't work you should be able to apply via the post office.
YourDrivingLicence - 9-Apr-18 @ 3:31 PM
Hi, Some advice please. I have a UK licence and live in Southern Ireland. I have only just realized that my photo id expired in 2015. How do I go about renewing this? Can I do it online? I do have a UK passport. Thanks
Karen - 8-Apr-18 @ 3:25 PM
I need to renew my license but want to boot test can I do this while waiting for license to arrive
Waynescunny - 21-Mar-18 @ 10:55 AM
My photo on my licence ran out last month and I want to renew it on line however my passport runs out in May.The passport is still valid but has the same photo as my licence.I will be renewing my passport in the next couple of weeks so would it be ok to wait a few more weeks.
Colin68 - 15-Mar-18 @ 5:04 PM
I have 3 year UK restricted license due to Type 1 Diabetes. I am currently living in Sweden, but I still have a permanent address (with a bank account connected to it) back in UK, where I come back for a few days a month. My license has expired now- can i renew legally?
Ali - 5-Mar-18 @ 7:42 PM
Dean- Your Question:
I passed my test in 1998 but with various reasons I have never changed address or updated my photo on license just took it for granted I'm legal til I got stopped for back light out and officer said got 7 days to fix it but when he pulled my record up show my old address and needless to say my very old photo said I will get a fine and possibly more due to fact I have angina now and have had a heart attack can you shed some light on it for me

Our Response:
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA when your address changes and the law says you must renew your photo licence every ten years. You don’t usually need to tell DVLA if you have angina or a heart attack.
YourDrivingLicence - 21-Feb-18 @ 11:15 AM
I passed my test in 1998 but with various reasons I have never changed address or updated my photo on license just took it for granted I'm legal til I got stopped for back light out and officer said got 7 days to fix it but when he pulled my record up show my old address and needless to say my very old photo said I will get a fine and possibly more due to fact i have angina now and have had a heart attack can you shed some light on it for me
Dean - 20-Feb-18 @ 11:07 AM
Aussie in UK - Your Question:
Any idea how long it actually takes at the moment to exchange your international drivers licence at the moment. Ive sent all my stuff in, 3 weeks seems like a long time. I wont get my hopes up, just thought someone here might have some recent experience.

Our Response:
We don't know what the current timescales are sorry. You could try tweeting them, they're usually fairly responsive on this DVLA twitter account
YourDrivingLicence - 29-Jan-18 @ 11:47 AM
fiddler - Your Question:
I have recently returned to the UK after living in China for almost 15 years. Now during those 15 years I have from time to time popped back to the UK to see family. One such occasion was in the summer of 2013 when I stayed with my sister. Not being a person that enjoys using public transport I decided to change the address on my UK licence to her address. This was simple and straightforward because the photo was still valid until Jan. 2014. Unfortunately at that time I paid little to the renewal date and then in late summer returned to my home in China. Now (January 2018) I have returned to the UK to spend my retired life. I have bought a house, hence I am residential but my recent attempt to use the on-line system failed. I supplied my National Insurance no., my licence details, my passport number and details of living overseas to no avail!However I am now aware that my passport is more than five years old, so maybe this is why it was rejected.

Our Response:
You may have to renew by post depending on the status of your passport photo etc. You do need a permanent UK address in order to renew your licence. Call the DVLA if you're unsure.
YourDrivingLicence - 29-Jan-18 @ 10:38 AM
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