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Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence Every 10 Years

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 23 Feb 2020 | comments*Discuss
Dvla Photo Licence Licence Renewal

Every day, thousands of UK drivers are facing the threat of prosecution without even realising that they are doing anything wrong. Could you be one of them?

Am I doing something wrong?

If you didn't know that you need to renew your photocard driving licence after 10 years, then you may well be one of the more than 40,000 drivers across the UK who are breaking the law – many of whom are doing so unwittingly.

My licence is valid until I’m 70 – isn’t it?

Many motorists believe that their photocard - like the old style green paper licences - are valid right up until they turn 70. In actual fact, they expire after a relatively short ten year period.

I didn’t know this – does it say it on the card?

It’s thought that many motorists are being caught out because the small print about licence renewal is exactly that – very small print. It’s tucked away on the back of the photocard under the section named ‘4b’. To find out what section ‘4b’ pertains to, the driver has to check the even smaller print on the reverse of the card, and when they do, they’ll see that it refers to a photocard ‘valid to’ date, which will be 10 years from the date of issue. The DVLA have sent out reminders to everyone who needs to get their photocard licences renewed but it seems that people aren't reading them or don't understand what is being asked of them. This could be because confusingly, next to the 'valid to' date, is another date which is the day before the driver turns 70 years old, and this is the date when the actual driving licence expires – not the photocard.

What do I have to do to get my photocard renewed?

To get your photocard renewal, you have 3 options:
  1. Renew online
  2. Rewew by post
  3. Renew at a Post Office

1. Renewing by Post

To renew your licence by post you need to take the following steps :
If you have had a renewal application pack (should arrive approximately 2 months before your licence is due to run out) then you should:
  • Complete the form as detailed in the pack
  • Include a new passport style photo taken within the last 30 days. You don't need to get this signed.
  • Return the photocard and the paper counterpart of your driving licence
  • Enclose a cheque or postal order for £20.00 (unless you have a medical short period licence or you are aged over 70 in which case it is free)
When you have completed the application form, send it to the DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DH.

If you haven't received the renewal pack then you need to get a D1 form from the Post Office or from the DVLA online form ordering service (link at the end of this article). The form name is 'Application for a Driving Licence'.

2. Renewing online

You can also renew online for the same fee. It's very easy to do simply visit the government website and follow the steps (link at the end of this article). To renew online, you will need:
  • The renewal form you received from the DVLA and your Driving Licence details
  • Your passport details (the DVLA will attempt to retrieve your photo image and signature from your passport)
  • Your passport must have been renewed within the past five years to do this
  • Means of payment by debit or credit card
Once you've completed the online process save the reference number and/or a screenshot of the the final screen. You will be sent an email confirmation too. Usually - you will receive your licence within 2 to 3 weeks.

3. At the post office

You can also renew your photocard licence with your reminder (mentioned above) at participating Post Offices for an additional fee.

For more information visit the Direct Gov website.

So can I drive while my licence is renewed?

According to a DVLA spokesman, qualified drivers are still entitled to drive a vehicle if their licence has expired, but what they must be aware of is that they could be charged with the offence of failing to renew their licence. If the matter went to court, then the motorist could end up with a £1,000 fine. The spokesman went on to say that the reason photocard licences needed to be renewed every ten years was because people's faces would change over that period, so updates are essential.

What happens if I have an accident in the meantime?

You may find that if your photo card has expired, then your insurance company may refuse to pay up for any claims you make. If this happens, you will be able to appeal, and if your photocard is being processed then you will usually be ok. However, it will often come down to the insurance company themselves and what their policies are in this type of situation. If you were involved in a bump, you would still be covered for third party claims, regardless of whether or not your photocard was still in date.

Re-applying for driver's licence

If you have been disqualified from driving and need to re-apply for your driving licence, read our article on this site which explains exactly what you need to do.

More on the photo licence?

We've produced a complete guide, to renewing your photo licence here.

Useful External links:

The licence renewal page on the government website.

The DVLA online form ordering service.

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[Add a Comment]
I’ve only just noticed that the dates on my driving licence do not add ten years ! I got it 2014 and it says valid till 2021 yet my husband renewed his after me and he had the ten years
R - 23-Feb-20 @ 4:05 PM
I renewed my driving licence online got it back but it’s only valid for 5 years thought it was 10 years have the laws changed?
Rossco - 17-Feb-20 @ 8:36 AM
I'm 66 just renewed my photo licence but its only valid for 3 half years paid £21.50 until I'm 70 will I have to pay again for renewal cos that wouldn't be fare
Dav - 25-Jan-20 @ 2:14 PM
I just renewed my license on line got it back but it’s only valid for 5 years. I thought it was renewed for 10 years.
Lee - 23-Dec-19 @ 4:39 PM
My Husband was 73on 19 11 2019 herenewed the licence using the D46 form on 19/11/2019 via recorded delivery post. Therefore the actual licence had just expired when DVLA RECIEVED THE RENEWEL FORM. Do the same rules apply regarding driving whilst waiting for a new licence?
MADMAD - 22-Nov-19 @ 12:38 AM
Do you have to pay the lost fee of £20 as well as the £14.00 renewal fee if there is only one month left until you renew
Helpmeplease - 21-Oct-19 @ 2:19 AM
Hi, I am currently living abroad and moving back to the UK in January 2020, I have noticed that my provisional expires November 2019. How do I renew this when I get back to the UK? I also dont have a British passport but a South African one, is this an issue for renewing online ? Thanks Stefan Bernhardt
Stef - 5-Oct-19 @ 9:53 PM
I had not renewed my driving licence at the age of 70 and renewed it just before my 75 birthday Whist the application was was being processedI was stopped for an invalid driving licence. The driving license was processed as showing as being valid four days before the offence . Applications to DVLA take around three weeks for a renewal of a driving license so at the time of my application under section 66 the application would have started to be processed .would anybody know if I may have a valid plea of not guilty at court .
Gamesmanship - 27-Sep-19 @ 10:44 PM
Hello sir/madam I just filled my renewal driving license form online. But I don’t know how to send my photo or signature for the renew new driving license. Can you please some advise
Sant - 2-Sep-19 @ 10:35 AM
I’m currently living abroad and my license runs out next year. I am returning for a month in October. Am I able to renew my license?I also have to renew my passport during this time.
Deb - 31-Jul-19 @ 12:47 PM
I've just renewed my licence as it was going to be out of date in October and as my husband was doing his it was quick n easy to do. However I've received my licence back today and on the reverse it has traffic lights on it so was wondering why I'm on amber when I have no point on my licence. I take it red means banned. So does any body have a green ??
Witty - 1-Jul-19 @ 1:41 PM
I need to renew my licence after a disqualification, does the new photo need signing?
Alby - 29-Jun-19 @ 6:56 PM
I have renewed my driving licence but the 4a entitlement has not been renewed according to the date on the new licence. Why would this be? Could it be my age , over 70 soon
Mike - 17-May-19 @ 9:10 AM
I filled out the wrong online form..! I just checked my online banking and it says that I have paid for a lost or stolen driving licence. I wanted to renew after 10 years. How can I get hold of anyone to correct this?
Shelley - 17-Apr-19 @ 10:56 PM
If my provisional licence is over 10yrs out of date and lost plus the paper bit do i have to get a full new licence or just renew it ? I only need it at minite as id but saving up to getting lessions again
Les - 15-Apr-19 @ 6:48 PM
I moved to another country in 2007 and returned in 2013, unaware that my drivers license had expired. I have not driven since 2007. How can I renew my license, as I have a good job opportunity?
Me - 12-Apr-19 @ 12:10 AM
I lived in another country from 2007, and returned in 2013, unaware that my drivers license had expired. I have not driven since then, but have a chance of a job that needs a driver. How do I renew my license?
Helen( ME) - 12-Apr-19 @ 12:05 AM
Hi, I live abroad and sometimes return to the UK. My licence expired at the end of 2018. I can't renew online as I don't live in the UK at the moment. How can I renew my UK licence? Thanks.
Ian - 6-Apr-19 @ 5:29 PM
I'm 18 and just got my provisional licence. The picture on it is me but when I was 13 years old. This is because I got it to copy the picture from my passport. Was this the incorrect option done. Should I have possibly got a new picture of myself for the card?
Sam - 3-Apr-19 @ 6:35 PM
I have an HGV licence but not worried about it. My car one is about to expire but I can't renew it online cause of the HGV part. How do I renew just my car one???
Stu - 27-Mar-19 @ 8:29 PM
I am a UK citizen, but have been living abroad for 8 years. My driving licence card expired in 2016 and I would like to renew it online but it says I need to give the addresses I have lived in for the past 3 years. I have my mum's address that I have been using for correspondence and a house I own, but obviously haven't actually been living in either- I live in Malaysia. Any ideas on how i can renew my licence? Many thanks in advance.
Jade - 20-Jan-19 @ 9:03 AM
I received my first photo licence I will be 70 on23/2/2019 the issue date is 22/12/2018 the expiry date is 22/02/2022 this is not 10 years is ita mistake by the DVLA?
HOWIE - 28-Dec-18 @ 6:35 PM
Since being disqualified for drink driving and completing the disqualification the DVLA have been issuing my licence for 1 year at a time. My current licence has now expired and the application for a new one is in the process, with completing all forms I need to in order for the renewal. The DVLA told me I can still legally drive while this application is in process. Is this correct and am I still legally insured to drive as well?
CST - 17-Dec-18 @ 10:22 AM
I already sent my photo card renewal form with a cheque in the post on 23/10/2018. The fee was withdrawn from my account 2 days after but unfortunately I haven’t yet received my new licence and it’s been nearly 7 weeks (?!)
Safo - 12-Dec-18 @ 9:46 AM
I already sent my photo card licence renewal form with a cheque in the post on 23/10/2018. The fee was charged on my account there and then. However, today is 12 December, it’s been 7 weeks and Ihaven’t yet received my renewed licence (?!)
Safo - 12-Dec-18 @ 9:43 AM
Hi I'm going to Spain in November 2019 for 6 months until April 2020 My driving licence expires while I am there at the end of Feb 2020 Can I renew before I go
Marshy - 1-Dec-18 @ 2:40 PM
Hi I am looking for advice The photo card of my license expjted in 2011 however I have been living abroad for 10 years I wasn't aware that the photo card expired and I will be returning to the U.K. Please could you advise the status of what I will need to do Regards
Butterfly grace - 24-Sep-18 @ 8:54 PM
Hi, my driving licence says it expires on 12.2.19 but in 4a says it was valid from 23.9.15.This is not 10 years is it because my photo expires?
Skater - 17-Sep-18 @ 7:49 PM
I got pulled over an the officer told me my license was expired. An I asked how can that be cause I just renewed my license by mail in the year 2015 an my new one expires in 2020.
M.mccloud - 7-Sep-18 @ 11:42 PM
I passed in 2014 but my licence says it’s due to expire in Jan 2019, why only 5 years? Is this a mistake?
Claire - 29-Aug-18 @ 4:06 PM
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