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Complete Guide to Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 13 Jan 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 According to DVLA figures, for example, two million photocard driving licences are out of date.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]
Pads63 - Your Question:
66 yrs old Just renewed lgv ce and driving licence all come back but ALL expire again 2019 ? Should my driving licence have been untill 70 ? Lgv is yrly now that I understand. Living in Northern Ireland

Our Response:
Once you reach 65, you need to renew your bus or lorry licence every year. Your normal driving licence should not expire until you're 70.
YourDrivingLicence - 16-Jan-18 @ 2:00 PM
Greeneyedgirl - Your Question:
When my father was quite elderly, he asked me to draw some money out of his bank for him. I didn't have any photo ID at the time and was advised by someone at the bank to apply for a provisional driving license (I don't drive and never have). I did this and was issued with one without any problem. My father passed away soon after. Today, ten years on, I recieved a letter 'reminding' me to renew my driving license. Failure to do so, it tells me, will result in a £1,000 fine!As I say, I have never been issued with a full driving license and have never even had one driving lesson or owned a car. There is no phone number on the letter and the only info is about how to pay. It seems ridiculous, and surely I could ignore the letter, but I'm afraid of being fined. BTW, I got rid of the provisional license years ago.

Our Response:
Your provisional licence doesn't expire until you are 70 but your photo licence needs renewing every 10 years. If you don't want to renew your photo licence, write to the DVLA and tell them you no longer need a licence etc.
YourDrivingLicence - 15-Jan-18 @ 2:21 PM
66 yrs old Just renewed lgv ce and driving licence all come back but ALL expire again 2019 ? Should my driving licence have been untill 70 ? Lgv is yrly now that I understand . Living in Northern Ireland
Pads63 - 13-Jan-18 @ 3:39 PM
When my father was quite elderly, he asked me to draw some money out of his bank for him. I didn't have any photo ID at the time and was advised by someone at the bank to apply for a provisional driving license (I don't drive and never have). I did this and was issued with one without any problem. My father passed away soon after. Today, ten years on, I recieved a letter 'reminding' me to renew my driving license. Failure to do so, it tells me, will result in a £1,000 fine! As I say, I have never been issued with a full driving license and have never even had one driving lesson or owned a car. There is no phone number on the letter and the only info is about how to pay. It seems ridiculous, and surely I could ignore the letter, but I'm afraid of being fined. BTW, I got rid of the provisional license years ago.
Greeneyedgirl - 12-Jan-18 @ 4:21 PM
sander - Your Question:
I had a uk paper license now lost. I want to replace with a photo card license.I have a valid uk passport. 1. Does my photograph need counter-signing?2. Do I need to send any additional ID, e.g. birth cert?Despite my normally adequate comprehension I cannot discern that from the various DVLA forms and booklets and sites

Our Response:
You should be able to do this online, you'll need you passport details, address and payment. To may need to set up a government gateway account first and this will require your National Insurance number. Try this page
YourDrivingLicence - 10-Jan-18 @ 11:11 AM
Shadow - Your Question:
Just renewed my driving licence, I will be 65 in February 2018. Was under the impression that the new one would be for 10 years: When my new one arrived in the post found it has an expiry date of 24-02-2023, only 5 years. Can anyone explain please.

Our Response:
Everyone has to renew their driving licence at age 70 (and every 3 years thereafter), so there would be no point in issuing you with a licence valid for 10 years.
YourDrivingLicence - 8-Jan-18 @ 1:56 PM
I had a uk paper license now lost. I want to replace with a photo card license. I have a valid uk passport. 1.Does my photograph need counter-signing? 2.Do I need to send any additional ID, e.g. birth cert? Despite my normally adequate comprehension I cannot discern that from the various DVLA forms and booklets and sites
sander - 7-Jan-18 @ 3:08 PM
Just renewed my driving licence, I will be 65 in February 2018. Was under the impression that the new one would be for 10 years: When my new one arrived in the post found it has an expiry date of 24-02-2023, only 5 years. Can anyone explain please.
Shadow - 5-Jan-18 @ 6:34 PM
bush - Your Question:
Hi, I was having uk driving license when I was in uk.My visa expired so dvla has revoked my uk driving license.Now I have valid visa and will be returning to United kingdom.can any one tell me that do I need to reapply uk driving test or can I renew my driving license.

Our Response:
If it was revoked you will need to apply to the DVLA to see if it can be returned.
YourDrivingLicence - 2-Jan-18 @ 2:48 PM
Hi, I am Italian and lived in the UK from 2004 until 2013. I had my British Licence for all that period. I moved abroad in 2013 and I am back to the UK (Dec 2017). My driving licence has expired during that period. How do I renew it? I have the D1 form but I am unsure how to fill it. Should I update the address and renew with new photo? How much would that cost? Thanks Vinni
vhm - 26-Dec-17 @ 3:02 PM
Hi, i was having uk driving license when i was in uk .My visa expired so dvla has revoked my uk driving license .Now i have valid visa and will be returning to United kingdom .can any one tell me that do i need to reapply uk driving test or can i renew my driving license .
bush - 25-Dec-17 @ 4:33 PM
han - Your Question:
My driving licence expire end of Jan 2018. Didn't receive a renewal pack yet. Can I get a form at post office and renew through post office or is it ro early to renew?

Our Response:
If you haven't received the form, there are several ways to renew. See this government information
YourDrivingLicence - 5-Dec-17 @ 9:47 AM
My driving licence expire end of Jan 2018. Didn't receive a renewal pack yet. Can I get a form at post office andrenew through post office or is it ro early to renew?
han - 2-Dec-17 @ 1:30 AM
My friend has just moved house but hasn't yet changed her address on her driving licence. Is she still legally ok to drive? Does she have some time in which to get it all sorted? At the moment she's stopped driving for fear of driving illegally.
Lou - 24-Nov-17 @ 1:18 PM
Hi, I passed my test in 2008 and thought the licence expires after 10 years but not in my case as I just found out my licence expired 2 years ago which I find quite strange. I had no way of finding out as I haven’t driven in the past 5 years, I did not have a car and I didn’t check my licence ( now feeling stupid as it was in purse this entire time). How can I apply to renew my photo card licence without paying a fine? Can you please advise? Many thanks!
Imy - 22-Nov-17 @ 12:13 AM
Will - Your Question:
Mt photocard is due for renewal but I am working in the United states for the next 6 months and wont be back in England before the renewal date. I tried on line but my passport is older than 5 years. Can I renew via post?

Our Response:
You can apply by post. You'll need to order a D1 pack from the DVLA. You need a passport type photo but it doesn't have to be from your passport. It costs £17. The address to send the completed form to is DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DH
YourDrivingLicence - 27-Oct-17 @ 2:59 PM
Mt photocard is due for renewal but I am working in the United states for the next 6 months and wont be back in England before the renewal date.I tried on line but my passport is older than 5 years.Can I renew via post?
Will - 26-Oct-17 @ 12:14 AM
My photocard licence will expire soon. I still have the paper copy, can I just let the photocard licence lapse and start using the paper copy again ?
Coco - 20-Oct-17 @ 5:03 PM
Thanks for your answer.Just on Question 3.... Yes we can apply for a standard renewal but the question was......if we do not apply for the full renewal first time around, can the extra entitlements be applied for at a later stage, when my health has improved, without having to take the extra tests? thanks!
Milestones - 10-Oct-17 @ 9:19 PM
Milestones - Your Question:
I am applying to renew my licence for the second time, at the age of 73. Being a 'Grandads' licence, it contains the entitlement to B1/D1.Question 1: I'm told that to renew as a standard licence without entitlements I can do this online but to retain the B1/D1 I will need a medical. Please confirm. No issue if requiredQuestion 2: I have a bad back currently and am awaiting some cortisone injections. My doctor advises that if he has to prepare a medical certificate and it contains a reference to a bad back, then this is a condition the DVLA can refuse the full renewal. Is this true?Question 3: If question 2 is correct, is it possible to apply for the standard renewal licence and then apply later for the entitlements to be added back on, without having to take any extra tests?thanks!

Our Response:

(1) Yes you need to provide a medical certificate for the D1 category (not the B category as far as we know).
(2) The guidance on medical conditions is lengthy and some of it is at the discretion of medical professionals. Please see the Guide to professionals assessing fitness to drive here
(3) We think you can still apply for a standard renewal.
YourDrivingLicence - 10-Oct-17 @ 3:02 PM
I am applying to renew my licence for the second time, at the age of 73.Being a 'Grandads' licence, it contains the entitlement to B1/D1. Question 1: I'm told that to renew as a standard licence without entitlements I can do this online but to retain the B1/D1 I will need a medical.Please confirm.No issue if required Question 2:I have a bad back currently and am awaiting some cortisone injections.My doctor advises that if he has to prepare a medical certificate and it contains a reference to a bad back, then this is a condition the DVLA can refuse the full renewal.Is this true? Question 3: If question 2 is correct, is it possible to apply for the standard renewal licence and then apply later for the entitlements to be added back on, without having to take any extra tests? thanks!
Milestones - 9-Oct-17 @ 1:28 PM
Sazza - Your Question:
We lived in Netherlands for 3 years and have just returned back to the U.K. a month ago. We moved back to our previous home and have found out that my wife's licence expired in 2015. Tried to renew online, stated that we lived at our current address for a month (same address as on the expired licence) and previous to that lived in Netherlands. We then entered passport details (only renewed 2 years ago) and submitted NI number as well. It came back saying we couldn't renew online. Had already spoken to DVLA and followed their instructions. HELP!

Our Response:
It might be easier apply by post or via the post office if the online system is not accepting your application.
YourDrivingLicence - 5-Sep-17 @ 11:30 AM
We lived in Netherlands for 3 years and have just returned back to the U.K. a month ago. We moved back to our previous home and have found out that my wife's licence expired in 2015. Tried to renew online, stated that we lived at our current address for a month (same address as on the expired licence) and previous to that lived in Netherlands. We then entered passport details (only renewed 2 years ago) and submitted NI number as well. It came back saying we couldn't renew online. Had already spoken to DVLA and followed their instructions. HELP!
Sazza - 3-Sep-17 @ 1:51 AM
Jo - Your Question:
I have just renewed my Photocard Driving Licence because it's 10 years old.Do I have to return my counterpart Driving Licence with my old Photocard even though my name or address hasn't changed?

Our Response:
You don't usually have return the paper part, just your old photocard.
YourDrivingLicence - 18-Aug-17 @ 2:47 PM
I have just renewed my Photocard Driving Licence because it's 10 years old. Do I have to return my counterpart Driving Licence with my old Photocard even though my name or address hasn't changed?
Jo - 17-Aug-17 @ 2:45 PM
Andy - Your Question:
I am a British citizen living in Texas with a valid British drivers license that expires in April,2018.My brother lives in Weymouth.Do I need to update my photo and if so how is the best way to go about doing this ?Can I do it on line or do I need to make a trip over to England.Thank you,George Thacker.

Our Response:
You can only renew your licence if you are resident in the UK.
YourDrivingLicence - 17-Aug-17 @ 12:57 PM
I am a British citizen living in Texas with a valid British drivers license that expires in April,2018. My brother lives in Weymouth.Do I need to update my photo and if so how is the best way to go about doing this ?Can I do it on line or do I need to make a trip over to England. Thank you, George Thacker.
Andy - 16-Aug-17 @ 3:35 AM
Mooz- Your Question:
I need to renew my licence but I don't have a passport, what do I do?

Our Response:
You can apply by post or at a post office, see the government information here
YourDrivingLicence - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:54 PM
I need to renew my licence but I don't have a passport, what do I do?
Mooz - 6-Aug-17 @ 10:59 AM
Donny - Your Question:
I have just applied for a new photo driving licence on line ,do I have to send my old paper driving licence back before I get my new one.As we are going abroad in September and I will need it as I will be driving abroad

Our Response:
You'll still receive your new one licence if you don't send your old one back first.
YourDrivingLicence - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:23 PM
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