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Is it Compulsory to Have a Photo Driving Licence?

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 31 Mar 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Licence Photocard Licence Europe

Q.

I was told at an airport check-in desk that my old style paper driving licence was no longer valid ID, and that it is, in fact, illegal to not have a photo-licence.

Is this true?

(A. Bates, 12 February 2009)

A.

Paper driving licences are no longer issued as new or replacement driving licences after the European Union ruled that all driving licences should be in the form of a photocard driving licence that features a photograph of the licence holder and his or her signature. Whilst the government advice is to exchange your paper licence for a photocard one, if your paper licence has not expired, it should accepted throughout the EU (for example if you need to hire a car).

Applying For a Photocard Driving Licence

You can find the D1 application form at many Post Office branches, or alternatively it is available from the DVLA form ordering service (which you can find details of on the DVLA website). If you choose this option, you will need to provide evidence of your identity and a passport photograph of yourself, along with the fee of £20.00. These documents should be sent to the DVLA address in Swansea or via the premium checking services that can be found at local DVLA offices and certain Post Office branches.

If you prefer to Apply for Your Photocard Driving Licence online, you can do so on the DVLA website by downloading the application form. This option requires you to be able to pay the £20.00 fee by credit/debit card. You do not need to send a passport photograph if you apply online, as the DVLA uses the Identity and Passport Service to do so. If this is not possible though, you will need to apply by post or in person (see the above paragraph) instead and provide the relevant documentation. You will need your passport number handy during the application process, as this is used as confirmation of your identity.

Receiving Your Photocard Driving Licence

In most cases, you should receive your photocard driving licence within around three weeks of your application being received by the DVLA. If any medical or personal details need to be verified, it can take slightly longer than this.

You are allowed to drive in the period before your photocard driving licence arrives, as long as you have previously held a UK driving licence, have been ruled fit to drive on medical grounds (you haven't been refused a driving licence because of a Medical Condition and are not likely to be refused a driving licence on medical grounds when your application is processed) and haven't been disqualified from driving.

Why are Photo Licences Needed?

The photo was licence was introduced in Britain following an EU directive to make driving licences consistent across the European Union. It means that your driving licence will be recognised all over Europe, but it also has some other benefits:
  • There is a lower risk of someone trying to impersonate you with a photo licence
  • The photo helps indicate the age of the licence holder. For certain types of vehicle this is useful, but it's also useful as proof of ID/age
  • It reduces the chances of duplication (ie. a person holding more than one licence)
  • It helps the DVLA maintain an accurate database of licence holders

Extra Info...

What many people do not realise is that your photocard driving licence must be renewed every ten years take a look at our article Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence Every 10 Years for more information.

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[Add a Comment]
I suffered a cardiac arrest last May and had to surrender my license for 6 months. Following a good recovery and a favourable report from my Cardiologist I asked for it back, in December. The DVLA have really dragged their heels and have now said my license is no longer valid. It’s an old paper one, issued in 1993 when I last changed my address. I know that it’s expiry date is 18 November 2027, the day before my 70th birthday so why do I have to apply for a photo license? I haven’t changed my name, gender, address, lost or damaged my license etc. Why are they saying it’s no longer valid?
DaveL - 31-Mar-18 @ 11:45 AM
Hi i applied for a first locemce in 2012 when i passed but never hot anything back as everything hot lost in the post so i have no information..5 years later i applied again telling dvla the situation..i am just worried i will not get my licence..i no it has been a long time..i have had personal problems and forgot about my licence..will they issiue me with a new one.i am very confused
Mahi - 5-Mar-18 @ 10:23 PM
lynbo - Your Question:
I wrote to DVLA enclosing old driving licence and Marriage certificate requesting a change of surname ,2 weeks later I got a letter informing me that I had'nt enclosed a photo or any more proof of ID for my new photo licence , as I didnt want a photo driving licence I was a bit annoyed do I have to have 1 or can I just request a paper 1

Our Response:
No, if you change the name or address on your licence, you will have a photocard as a replacement. This is now a legal requirement. The only circumstance in which you could retain the paper only licence would be if you never made any changes to your licence (which in your case would be fraudulent as your name has changed).
YourDrivingLicence - 13-Feb-18 @ 10:57 AM
I wrote to DVLA enclosing old driving licence and Marriage certificate requesting a change of surname ,2 weeks later i got a letter informing me that i had'nt enclosed a photo or any more proof of ID for my new photo licence , as i didnt want a photo driving licence i was a bit annoyed do i have to have 1 or can i just request a paper 1
lynbo - 11-Feb-18 @ 1:22 PM
I've applied for photo licence but they said l couldn't have one not enough I dl sent everything l could bank statement council tax bill my doctor who l have had for last 30 years did a letter for me as proof of who l was . I've never claimed benefits..l hada p45 from my last employmentwhich they said was too long ago..l don't receive pension yet .and always took care of my mum and dad.. please advise tried everything..
Raz - 25-Jan-18 @ 8:14 AM
Why do I need to change to a photo licence,, we are leaving Europe therefore No longer subject to their dictatest and petty rules?Or is the brevity move more A falicy to appease the masses and their control will still be in effect
Gillyg - 6-Dec-17 @ 12:07 PM
Dibbles - Your Question:
Hi. I have got an old paper style drivers licence that is now getting extremely tatty. I don't mind changing it for a photo one if that is what would be the case should I change for a new licence. However I do not possess a passport as I have never needed one. I really cannot see the need to get one just so that I can change my tatty licence for a new one.Also. The DVLA issued me with this licence without having to show them any other ID and the paper licence has in the past been accepted as a perfectly good form of ID. Why should I now have to prove my identity to the people who issued me with the licence in the first place?

Our Response:
Just apply for a replacement driving licence say yours is damaged. You can apply by post, just pick up a form D1 from the Post Office or DVLA form ordering service. You will need to supply ID though,a photo (must be a passport style photo, you can get these done cheaply at booth or local photo studio) and your damaged licence together with your fee of £20.
YourDrivingLicence - 21-Nov-17 @ 11:02 AM
Hi.I have got an old paper style drivers licence that is now getting extremely tatty.I don't mind changing it for a photo one if that is what would be the case should I change for a new licence.However I do not possess a passport as I have never needed one.I really cannot see the need to get one just so that I can change my tatty licence for a new one. Also.The DVLA issued me with this licence without having to show them any other ID and the paper licence has in the past been accepted as a perfectly good form of ID.Why should I now have to prove my identity to the people who issued me with the licence in the first place?
Dibbles - 20-Nov-17 @ 10:38 AM
La - Your Question:
I'm 57 yrs old and Moved 11 years ago and completely forgot to change my drivers licence. I've got no points never had an accident completely clean license. Heard I will be fined £1000 when I change it over. I genuinely haven't even thought about it I r the years!

Our Response:
If you're cauught with an expired licence, you might be fined. If however, you just apply to renew it, it's unlikely.
YourDrivingLicence - 12-Sep-17 @ 12:18 PM
I'm 57 yrs old and Moved 11 years ago and completely forgot to change my drivers licence . I've got no points never had an accident completely clean license. Heard I will be fined £1000 when I change it over . I genuinely haven't even thought about it I r the years!
La - 11-Sep-17 @ 9:03 AM
I've got my provisional licence in my 20's and I have never learnt to drive and I never want to. My licence is still the paper one. Do I need to renew my licence?
Radley - 26-Aug-17 @ 10:30 AM
ClareF - Your Question:
Hi,I haven't driven in about 5 years, and would like to start again very soon. My photo card license expired in August 2013, and I have totally forgotten about it and not renewed it as I haven't been driving. Can I renew my license now without risk of being fined?

Our Response:
Yes you should be able to renew it online or by post.
YourDrivingLicence - 27-Jun-17 @ 10:39 AM
Hi, I haven't driven in about 5 years, and would like to start again very soon. My photo card license expired in August 2013, and I have totally forgotten about it and not renewed it as I haven't been driving. Can I renew my license now without risk of being fined?
ClareF - 24-Jun-17 @ 3:43 PM
I've been living abroad for quite sometime and now wish to return to the uk. I have a truck licence, coach licence, car licence, all done in the uk but my motorcycle licence was done abroad. I'm 50 in may so I need a medical to get my licence back as i was told by DVLA that my licence expires in may on my birthday, but i won't be returning until around July August time. Will I lose my truck and coach licence because I've renewed them to late or can I do a medical in july/august and get everything back. Thankyou
Mushroom - 20-Apr-17 @ 5:01 AM
Typical mess. I had to check if I could still drive as my photo ID on my driving license had expired. I had to pay £30 plus the cost of a new photo. It isn't all that clear that you can still drive on a driving license that has the photo ID expired. If you have no medical problems or that you do not anticipate any problems with renewal then you can still drive on an "expired Photo ID " license. Not everybody knows this - my car insurance didn't really know and wouldn't confirm that I was OK to drive.As they couldn't comment on my fitness to drive. Then they relented after I said I was fit to drive. So when they send you a renewal notice, it's not your license that's expired....it's your PHOTO that has expired....but they'll let you drive as they take an age to send you the " up dated Photo" License....clear as mud.
freddwarf - 29-Mar-17 @ 3:12 PM
i have a complex situation with my licence i wasn't aware because honestly i never look at it and its been so long that a my driving licence had to be renewed and b the bigger problem that it is still in my single name , i hadn't realised that it wasn't changed , what do i do ??
nat - 4-Nov-16 @ 3:09 PM
maggie may - Your Question:
After moving, the tedious task of informing banks , utilities , schools etc was down to me and for some reason I forgot my driving licence.That was 5 years ago. After a random conversation I scrutinised the tiny print on the photo card part of it and discovered my misdemeanour.So I researched on line and my fate appears to be a £1000 fine, and re-taking my test !This for me is a dilemma. If I apply online they will realise that I am 5 years late. At this point what will they choose to do ? I would like to think that forgiveness would be preferable to retribution but I'm not usually lucky in these type of situations.

Our Response:
If you apply to renew now, you should be alright; it's if you get caught without one that you'll be penalised.
YourDrivingLicence - 2-Sep-15 @ 1:56 PM
After moving, the tedious task of informing banks , utilities , schools etc was down to me and for some reason I forgot my driving licence. That was 5 years ago.After a random conversation I scrutinised the tiny print on the photo card part of it and discovered my misdemeanour. So I researched on line and my fate appears to be a £1000 fine, and re-taking my test ! This for me is a dilemma ....... If I apply online they will realise that I am 5 years late .At this point what will they choose to do ? I would like to think that forgiveness would be preferable to retribution but I'm not usually lucky in these type of situations.
maggie may - 30-Aug-15 @ 7:15 PM
great found the answer good thanks saved me some money
hirsty - 28-Jun-15 @ 5:45 PM
@Allieblue73. No you need to do this by post if you're changing your name (eg after marriage). Ask for a D1 pack at your local post office.
YourDrivingLicence - 5-May-15 @ 10:31 AM
Hi there, I have the old style paper licence, I have moved house AND got married, I tried to complete the form online but it didnt seem to give me the option to change both.I will be happier once I have this all updated but I dont know how to go about it or how much it will cost, can anyone help please? Thanks.
Allieblue73 - 27-Apr-15 @ 2:53 PM
@tubbs. Yes you need to swap your paper licence for a photocard licence before you can get your DQC.
YourDrivingLicence - 23-Apr-15 @ 12:48 PM
do commercial drivers of tachograph vehicles need to swap their old style licences for photocard licence as well as completing their compulsory CPC training?
tubbs - 21-Apr-15 @ 6:11 AM
i have the old style paper driving license and penelty points are going to be added, can i insist to have my paper license back?..dont wont to have to have photo one which i dont need to change until im 70
charlie - 23-Dec-14 @ 1:23 PM
The original question asks 'Is a non-photo-card driving licence illegal?' The answer is NO! It is not illegal, an there is no compulsion to change it. You MUST inform DVLA of any other changes (Name, Address, and any points added) but they need not be informed of any other details! To change to a photo-card licence is your own choice.
Nebulous Thrug - 8-Nov-14 @ 4:19 PM
@charlie. Your paper licence is in addition to the photocard...so you will need to apply for a photo licence and your existing driving licence remains the paper counterpart. You can apply only easily if you have a passport (they use the photo from that). If not you will need to apply by post or at the post office.
YourDrivingLicence - 29-Sep-14 @ 11:53 AM
So, when exactly do you need to change your paper licence for a photocard? is it after the expiry date of the od one?
charlie - 26-Sep-14 @ 7:04 AM
Thanks for the info @champagedrinker.
YourDrivingLicence - 19-Sep-14 @ 10:15 AM
The original question was about checking in, I'm assuming for an internal flight. My understanding is that it's not the paper bit they were objecting to, as the lack of photo. You need photo ID, the driving licence photo card, is something they accept (they don't care about what you're entitled to drive). As far as I know, all airlines accept photo cards, and passports for ID, some accept other things too (eg NUS cards) However, for car hire, they're more interested in what you're entitled to drive. Personally, I've never had problems with paper licence for the driving bit & passport for ID. I did, however get an international driving ID thing from the PO, (£5) just in case for hiring a car in Canada. Chap in Avis was happy.
Champagne drinker - 18-Sep-14 @ 7:10 AM
@ed. You do not need to pay for a change of address on your driving licence.
YourDrivingLicence - 17-Sep-14 @ 11:38 AM
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