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Complete Guide to Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 13 Mar 2021 | 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 According to DVLA figures, for example, two million photocard driving licences are out of date.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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I was born in the UK 66 years ago . Never been abroad so have no passport . I am disabled now so have real difficulty getting to a post office . How do I renew my photo licence online
Womble - 13-Mar-21 @ 11:40 AM
My licence expires in August 2021. I am 70 in November 2021. Do I need to renew my licence twice?
Patsy - 3-Mar-21 @ 10:11 PM
My son's photocard drivers licence expired December 2020 and has 11 month to renew it due to Coronavirus, he has tried to renew it ONLINE to no avail, every time he reaches the point about a passport he cannot get past it as his passport expired 2017 and has no intension of renewing it, why do those people that originate the questions on these sites assume everyone owns or needs a passport! he should have been able to reach the passport question and say NO i don't have a passport then carry on to the end and renew his photocard licence, they have his details online at DVLA nothing has changed it SHOULDbe straight forward....
19DENBO48 - 23-Feb-21 @ 8:01 AM
How do I get a new photo for my driving licence if my passport is more than 5 years old and photo machines are all out of use because of covid 19. Also are photographers closed as they are not classed as essential?
Pj - 17-Feb-21 @ 3:47 PM
Hi, Please can you advise. I need to renew my UK drivers licence but I cannot do it online as it says I have to have a British Passport. I have a Dutch, EU passport. How do I go about renewing my UK drivers licence? Thanks, Taryn
Taz - 17-Jan-21 @ 4:33 PM
My photo card driving licence expires in March 2021 at my 70 th birthday when we the DVLA send out the renewal form ?
Dave - 11-Oct-20 @ 11:57 AM
Hi, I have just discovered that my licence is 2 weeks out of date. I don't have a valid passport but am struggling to speak to anyone to tell me that it is possible to renew my licence without getting a new passport. I don't really need a passport so don't want all that bother as well.
kenny - 18-Sep-20 @ 12:14 PM
I need to renew my drivers licence and update photo, I dont have a valid passport. Do I need to get the new photo countersigned?
Sinead - 12-Sep-20 @ 2:50 PM
Can anyone explain why having renewed driving licence, after the ten year period, it has only been renewed for 7 years and not the usual 10 years?Passed test Oct 2010, renewed June 2020, new expiry date July 2027......
Mrs C - 28-Aug-20 @ 11:33 AM
Hi I just want to change my uk paper license for a photo license to use as ID of my age - I'm 56, but cant have a bottle of wine delivered to my door because I have no passport or any photo ID. Can I apply on line and do I need a referee?I dont really know anyone in authority well enough to countersign my application
Shirley - 27-Aug-20 @ 3:23 PM
I need to apply for my renewal by post as expired, name and address change. Have a passport 2yrs old in my new name. Do I need to send a new photo or can they use what’s on file from my passport? Do I need to send any id at all or is the passport number enough?
Boo12 - 14-Aug-20 @ 11:28 PM
i was stopped by police the other day theyinformed me my licence had expired i still have the all paper one but have lost it just want to know how much it will cost as cant get no information off dvla
davey - 3-Aug-20 @ 9:13 PM
My licence has expired on 3/7/2020 as I was not sent a reminder. I've renewed online yesterday, but can I drive in the interim ?. I'm over 70 and have no health problems
Duffer - 30-Jul-20 @ 1:40 PM
I am 73 on the 6th September , I thoughtI would get a form come through the post but haven't received one , can you tell me what I have to do ?
Dorie - 28-Jul-20 @ 6:59 PM
My photo card expired in 2010, I didn't need to drive, didn't have a car, so didn't renew it. Now I need to drive again, can I renew photo card, it did have medical grounds, but there has been no change in health. How Dido this?
Tee - 13-Jul-20 @ 10:34 PM
My Spanish Euro licence ran out in 2013 whilst I was living in Thailand. What do I need to do now to get another licence. I am 74 in good health. Do I need to take a new full driving test?
Handymcnab - 9-Jul-20 @ 1:24 PM
Trying to renew my photo on driving licence, why are they telling me my passport is in valid when it was renewed in Aug 2019?
GIG - 7-Jul-20 @ 7:18 PM
I have a UK driving license but can't use it and I live abroad. I can't renew as I am not a resident in the UK. I have a Thailand licence and a out of date UK licence can I use it if Icome for a holiday to the UK
Loz - 3-Jul-20 @ 10:52 AM
My licence ran out 2 months ago and I didn't know. I have tried to renew it on line , but I don't have a passport. How can I renew it on line
Kevy - 15-Jun-20 @ 11:01 AM
Hi, I have send my EU driving licence to DVLA with D1 form in order to exchange it with an Uk driving licence. Does anyone know if this applications are being processed during lockdown? It’s been 2 weeks already, and I will need my passport soon, but as you probably know I had to sent it with D1 form. Thanks!
Alex - 22-May-20 @ 1:57 AM
My photo id runs out in June and my passport has expired can I still renew my licence on line during lock down
Floss - 21-May-20 @ 9:18 AM
My driving license was expired on the 14th of May 2020. I have sent my license and my ID card on 31st of March 2020 yet there is nothing. I understand due to the coronavirus pandemic it might take longer for the new License to arrive. Now that my Driving license has expired, Am I still allowed to drive or no!?
Afshin - 19-May-20 @ 1:28 PM
I moved permanent address. I have a paper licence.no passport . I applied on line for change of address. this done I have been sent a form to change to a photo licence. but before the application form arrived. I received an email stating time limit on use of form. this time as past due to lock down difficulties. do Isend the form late, or get another form from the post office. do I now have to pay it is very difficult to get the application countersigned at this time of lock down
joe - 30-Apr-20 @ 6:28 AM
Husband is in the same position isolating.We phoned a PO to send us the form - now I've taken some pics to have developed and hope they qualify.We are isolating so cannot get out to a photo booth. It does say you can apply by form - ===Applying by post=== Fill in form D1 ‘Application for a driving licence’. You can get it from most Post Offices. Include: a new passport type photo taken within the last month (do not sign the back of the photo) the photocard and paper counterpart of your current licence (if you’ve lost either, tick the relevant box on the D1 form) a cheque or postal order for £17, payable to DVLA (there’s no fee if you’re over 70 or have a medical short period licence) Send your application and fee (if needed) to DVLA. DVLA Swansea SA99 1DH
welshbabe - 27-Apr-20 @ 11:07 AM
I have to renew my licencein June but do not have a passport how do I renewit
Woody - 25-Apr-20 @ 6:01 PM
My photo driving licence expires in May. I do not have a current passport. Can not renew on line. I am in 12 week lock down due to high risk so cant get out. I am 67 do I have to pay full amount as the new licence only lasts 3 years till I am 70 for renewal. I still have my original red book driving licence which says to 2023
Rogers THT - 23-Apr-20 @ 3:38 PM
I don't use driving license U.K.(10 yr expired) Can Irenew it and use again? Thanks
Jay - 18-Apr-20 @ 10:06 AM
I need to renew my licence before 15/05/2020 - due to coronavirus I understand my only route is online. I have just renewed my passport so I can do this but now the online renewal is not recognise my new valid passport. I cannot phone DVLA as I am not a key worker. How am I going to get around renewing? Any ideas? Does the passport take a while to appear in the DVLA database?
MelC - 17-Apr-20 @ 9:38 AM
Hi,has there been a time extension out on the licence renewals?The online system isnt working and theres no information on it to say that it's out of service or anything like that.However it does say that the paper forms arent being processed at the moment (understandably). Any info regarding this would be appreciated, Thanks
K O'Neill - 3-Apr-20 @ 12:52 AM
I havemedical a 2 yr licence which needs renewed I have completed the renewal forms to apply for it Nothing medically has changed since my last application so i should be good to go but the paperwork doesn't highlight for Medical licence renewal applications if your old licence should be enclosed with the forms Can someone please advise should my old licence about to expire be enclosed in the application for the new one Thanks for any help J
j - 2-Apr-20 @ 1:30 PM
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