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Complete Guide to Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 9 Sep 2019 | 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 According to DVLA figures, for example, two million photocard driving licences are out of date.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]
Need advice on returning to UK with a expired driving licence.
Zo - 9-Sep-19 @ 11:19 AM
I left the UK in 2003 to live in South Africa.My British Drivers licence lapsed some years ago which I would like to renew.Kindly advise if this would be possible?My British Passport was renewed this year
Nina - 2-Sep-19 @ 1:29 PM
Hi I have a photo provisional licence which is out of date, how do I renew
Wend - 12-Aug-19 @ 5:33 PM
Trying to renew driving licence online. Put in passport number (got passport December 18) but it refuses to accept it saying can't find passport photo. Why for goodness sake after 8 or 9 months is this not possible. So frustrating.
Wb - 5-Aug-19 @ 7:47 PM
I had my 70thbirthday in July 2019 but my license is valid until 2020 can I still drive. I have received no application forms from the DVLA MA
Jimmy - 22-Jul-19 @ 6:53 PM
I have recently received a new passport (one week ago) and assumed I would be able to update my driving licence picture online. However when I went through the rather lengthy process of doing this, the software reported that my picture could not be found! My question is how long does it take for my passport picture to be available online for the above purpose?
Gaz - 20-Jul-19 @ 3:33 AM
My husband and I have a paper license, been living at the old address over 30 odd years. We have now moved house how do I apply for a new license?
Pammy - 18-Jun-19 @ 7:12 AM
I am EX-Gurkha solder and Nepalese Nationality. I live in out of UK now and I didn't have information every 10 years photo ID license. My photo ID driving license expired 2017. I would like to know how to renew photo ID driving license. And also how to change address. Because I am not going back to UK few years. Regarding payment, can I pay by VISA or Master credit card? And can I use postal delivery by DHL or postal service? I await your kind reply. Regards.
YB - 15-Jun-19 @ 12:12 PM
I originally had an old style paper licence which I lost over 10 years ago. I then got a photo ID licence which expires in 4 weeks. in the intervening 10 years I happened to find the old paper licence again, is the old paper licence still valid or do I need to apply for a new photo ID licence
flae - 28-May-19 @ 1:48 PM
I need to get my license back cause somebody please email me and inform me how to do this. I have sent numourse emails but had no reply
Stany - 27-May-19 @ 6:39 PM
My wife has a valid TN Drivers License, expires in March 2025. Age 82, and recently she felt nervous while driving. Both of us are retired. so I offered to take over driving her wherever. Her present TN License expires in March of 2025. Her driving history is clean. No tickets, no mishaps. After being her lead driver for a few months, she lost her nervousness and wanted to resume driving. She consulted her Primary Physician who asked her if she wanted to consult the experts at hs Hospital She gave her assent, after which an advisor who recommended her to come over for the Drivers Test. Upon arrival she was told that.She was referred to aPsychologist who recommended a further interview whoseanalysis would be forwarded to her Primary Physicianby form letter which would be available to my wife for perusal. Atthat appointment she would she seemed to have some cognitive deficiencies and was "strongly advised" to take the Hospital Drivers Test. She was told that the Drivers test consisted of 2 parts. She was told that part one would be a series of some 20 some odd questions which would assess her cognitive level and would describe any mental deficiencies, if any. Part 2 would be the Hospital Drivers test, when available. In 2 weeks time, she received an appointment for the Driving Test which had the date and time but which had to be declined because my wife was attending a funeral for her younger sister in the Philippines at that time. When she returned home she let the Hospital know she was available and a susequent appointment date was made, which she attended. Asked if she felt ready to commence Part 1 of the drivers test questions she complied. Unfortunately, she scored "low " one Part 1, but did not receive a failing mark. However, she would not be able to complete in Part 2 (the actual Driver test.) at that time, but would be able to try again at a later date. Unfortunately, that datedid not arrive. There was no notification that affected her ability to continue driving.
Aida - 25-May-19 @ 1:17 AM
My wife has a valid TN Drivers License, expires in March 2025. Age 82, and recently she felt nervous while driving. Both of us are retired. so I offered to take over driving her wherever. Her present TN License expires in March of 2025. Her driving history is clean. No tickets, no mishaps. After being her lead driver for a few months, she lost her nervousness and wanted to resume driving. She consulted her Primary Physician who asked her if she wanted to consult the experts at hs Hospital She gave her assent, after which an advisor who recommended her to come over for the Drivers Test. Upon arrival she was told that.She was referred to aPsychologist who recommended a further interview whoseanalysis would be forwarded to her Primary Physicianby form letter which would be available to my wife for perusal. Atthat appointment she would she seemed to have some cognitive deficiencies and was "strongly advised" to take the Hospital Drivers Test. She was told that the Drivers test consisted of 2 parts. She was told that part one would be a series of some 20 some odd questions which would assess her cognitive level and would describe any mental deficiencies, if any. Part 2 would be the Hospital Drivers test, when available. In 2 weeks time, she received an appointment for the Driving Test which had the date and time but which had to be declined because my wife was attending a funeral for her younger sister in the Philippines at that time. When she returned home she let the Hospital know she was available and a susequent appointment date was made, which she attended. Asked if she felt ready to commence Part 1 of the drivers test questions she complied. Unfortunately, she scored "low " one Part 1, but did not receive a failing mark. However, she would not be able to complete in Part 2 (the actual Driver test.) at that time, but would be able to try again at a later date. Unfortunately, that datedid not arrive. There was no notification that affected her ability to continue driving.
Aida - 14-May-19 @ 1:46 AM
My photo I D driving license expired September last year but my paper license expires in 2023 , how and what do I need to renew my photo license?? and can I do it online??
Jon - 28-Apr-19 @ 7:17 PM
Im trying to renew my license online, however the photo issue and barcode are not present on the back of the card. Therefore I cannot complete section to of the application. There is a sequence 10 figures long consisting 2 letters and 8 numbers. When I try to enter this, it only allows 2 numbers and nothing else. Any advice would be really helpful. Getting through to the DVLA is impossible.
Doc - 26-Apr-19 @ 11:30 AM
I haven't got a passport can I still renew my phote driving licence
Lolo - 16-Apr-19 @ 8:23 PM
Ive let my hgv license run out im 49 tryed finding out with form a D1 orD2 do i fill outknow ive got to do medical which one to get my hgv back on
Sid - 6-Apr-19 @ 11:35 AM
I have an old style paper licence which still has some 6 years of validity remaining. I wish to get a replacement, new style photo ID licence as I shall be driving whilst on holiday in South Africa later this year and do not want the hassle of trying to explain the validity of a paper licence. However I do not want to physically surrender my paper licence (which I have kept in excellent condition) as it has sentimental value to me. Will I have to physically part with my paper licence to obtain a photo ID replacement ? Thanks for your help
Bob - 2-Apr-19 @ 11:49 AM
Can I renew my driving licence if it hasn't expired yet? I still have one year and two months remaining on my existing one. Thanks
dappydan - 23-Mar-19 @ 11:33 AM
I have been living out the country for many years and plan on coming back on trips throughout the year. I have an address in the UK but have no UK identity documents and/or certificates - just my old DVLA paper driving licence. I have an Indian passport and 70 years old. Do you know if it is possible to renew my uk paper licence?
EM - 13-Mar-19 @ 1:23 PM
I renewed my life today at the post office. My ?Is the post office supposed to keep the old photicard
Pipin - 8-Mar-19 @ 9:20 PM
Why not sending you an email when your driving license expires
Fat - 10-Jan-19 @ 4:26 PM
My mate's driving licence photo expired 8 years ago. He suffered with depression and alcoholism. He is much better now and wants to update his photocard. Will he get fined, as he is worried because he cannot pay £1000.00 due to being unemployed? Or will the DVLA accept mitigating circumstances?
Ki - 3-Nov-18 @ 3:06 PM
I have lived in the UK for 7 years, My Irish drivers licence expired on the 31.10.18.I sent the forms through on the 21.10.18 to the DVLAhowever my application was rejected due to a photo.Can I still resubmit this application to receive a uk licence even though my Irish licence expired on the 31.10.18?
Sin - 1-Nov-18 @ 6:14 PM
What happens if caught speeding and receive nip and I have expired photocard but get this renewed before sending off?
Aymaan - 1-Nov-18 @ 12:55 PM
can I ask if there is a fee for exchanging my paper licence for photo licence please? I have conflicting information. Note - this will be my 1st photo licence where my name and address have changed. In the notes, it advises 'free', yet for a photo, a fee of £17. Then there's another fee for £20.... so as you can gather, a tad confused. Feedback please.
H - 24-Oct-18 @ 9:18 AM
absolute scam. £84 has been taken from my account for something that should have cos £14. Waiting for a full trfund
Jo - 28-Sep-18 @ 11:43 PM
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
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
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