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Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence Every 10 Years

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 2 Oct 2021 | 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]
My driving license has expired on 01 03 20 but i have been out of the Uk can I renew it now
None - 2-Oct-21 @ 3:45 PM
I last drove a car in 2004 during driving lessons but gave up and haven't ever driven again a single time since. My provisional license has long expired it turns out (2015) and I didn't realise that you are supposed to renew it until someone told me today! If I ever want to try to drive again how will I explain to the DVLA why I didn't renew my provisional license six years ago and will I get a £1,000 fine or is it only the police who issue those if you were driving with an expired provisional license?
Triddy - 4-Sep-21 @ 4:46 AM
I passed my test in 1996 so I had a paper driving license to last until I was 70. I got a photocard driving license when it came out rather naively and wish I hadn't and kept my paper license that lasted until I was 70, and don't have to keep renewing it all the time. Can I get back my old paper license back or get a driving license that doesn't expire until I'm 70 like I had?
Ace1 - 23-Aug-21 @ 12:20 PM
I renewedon line they took 94. Gov web site Then told me they need my insurance Num a photo. ?Not happy.
Jac - 27-Jul-21 @ 11:21 AM
I have just renewed my 10 year license. But it's only been done for 1 year as I will be 70 next year. Do I have to pay again next year and then every 3 years
ChrisB - 23-Jun-21 @ 11:33 AM
My license is valid for 8 years? I have not had a renewal notice but I renewed it today and was charged £97 !? Am I losing my mind or have DVLA lost thiers?
SteveG - 17-Apr-21 @ 1:27 AM
If the license is valid for 10 year with an up-to-date picture, why is mine only valid for 3 years?? Renewed in 2017 and it expired in sept 2020, is this another government money making scheme
Beany - 1-Dec-20 @ 2:32 PM
My photocard licence ran out justbover two years ago i have startedbtwo different driving jobs since and it hasnt been a problem but went to start a new one today and they wont accept it, i have been searching all afternoon to try and find out how to renew it but seem to just be going around in circles! Any ideas?
Andy - 27-Nov-20 @ 10:15 PM
My canadian licence I did not renew after it expired 7 years ago but for no other reason than I didn't have a vehicle,I am a British citizen and have taken driving tests for all classes of vehicles in the UK and I am wondering if I can get a licence for a car in uk ,I am now living in UK permanently,I am ex British Military.
Phil - 26-Sep-20 @ 8:55 PM
My licence expired over 8 years ago and I never renewed it in canada for no other reason than I didn't have a car I have taken all my driving tests in uk and have all classes but I have recently returned to uk permanently,where do I stand on renewal for a normal licence to drive a car?
Phil - 26-Sep-20 @ 8:48 PM
On examining my licence I noticed it states that I took my first test and passed on the 20th of March 1975 when in fact it was 20th of March 1965 when I was 17 not 27 ! Why is this ?
Mike - 26-Sep-20 @ 6:33 PM
I applied for my provisional in March and received it to find that it’s has just run out after 5 months why is this ?
Vikki - 30-Aug-20 @ 5:47 PM
My friend’s photo driving licence expires 20th August. He has not received a reminder. Can he still renew at the post office?
Pindy - 16-Aug-20 @ 2:52 PM
I need to renew my provisional driving licence as it expired and decided to do it by completing the D1 form at the post office. Can someone here let me know (just double checking) if I need to include my passport or other form of ID if I'm just renewing? This form is quite confusing. It also doesn't have a box to tick (as one of the main reasons) for card expired, so I'm assuming I should select renew photo if nothing else applies? Many thanks, Regards A
Anet - 16-Aug-20 @ 2:58 AM
Hi everyone just some info for anyone waiting for a renewal license. I sent mine in middle of April for a photo and address change and it has only just been done today the 7th August 2020 they seem to have a crazy back log with postal applications.
Roger - 7-Aug-20 @ 1:06 PM
Sent licence to dvla 2 months ago with cheque for renewal. I still havent received the new one back. Please adise if there is a delay. Many thanks Darren
Darren - 1-Aug-20 @ 3:37 PM
I’ve just renewed my photo license and paid, but find I will have to renew my driving license, (who knew there was a difference!) in three years time when I turn 70 and will have to pay again! The expiry date on the front is your photo expiry, the license expiry is on the back of the card under AM 10 (start) 11 (expiry) . Also due to Covid there is, since June2020, a seven month extension on photo card expiry dates..........
Jac - 25-Jul-20 @ 9:00 AM
My card runs out in August I am 70 on the 12th August but it won’t accept my birth date please help
Patsy - 23-Jul-20 @ 10:42 AM
I am 70 on 12th August this year I tried to renew on line but it would not accept my birth date please advise I have not recieved any forms from you as yet thank you
Patsy - 23-Jul-20 @ 10:39 AM
sent licence to up date photo 3 months ago ,still have not heared from you. Some people sent beginning of July now have it back. Why am I still waiting. Licence number, HUNTE 5080DE8VX82. I Await YOU REPONCE Regards Dan Hunter
DH - 21-Jul-20 @ 2:08 PM
My photo driving licence runs out this month, I haven't received a reminder to renew.Do I have to apply my self ?
Jack - 4-Jul-20 @ 8:07 PM
I applied for a renewed licence thinking that it would last 10 years. It was only when going for a test drive that the garage pointed out it only lasted for 2 years ! On the basis that all the information says 10 years is this yet another money making scam to fleece the drivers. How do i get my 10 year licence that i paid for ?
Andrew - 28-Jun-20 @ 11:14 AM
I have applied for my new driving licence 7 weeks ago and it still hasent arrived can you give me a date when I will recive it thank you mr Aaron Dawkins
None - 26-Jun-20 @ 11:55 AM
I am reaching 70 years of age on 20th august I believe I should have been sent a form to renew licence 90days before this date I have yet to receive this I only have paper licence at present can I renew on line or do I have to fill in form and send photo or can I send photo on line please advise and send me form at present I am unable to visit post office due to COVIDthanksJohn lowdon
Tom - 19-Jun-20 @ 3:38 PM
Section 4a on my licence states my photo licence started on 21 July 2011. When will it expire? Section 4b states : 29 01 2012 Which was only 5 months
Leilab - 18-Jun-20 @ 3:12 PM
My photo driving licence expires in March next year and I'm driving to Spain in December this year, returning in April next year.Can I get it renewed earlier than the 2 months ?
Blondy - 5-Jun-20 @ 3:29 PM
My first photo driving licence dated June 2013, expiry August 2020. Why doesn't it last 10years
Janey - 7-May-20 @ 2:02 PM
I have just renewed my photo card licence on receipt of the new card I notice that it is only valid for 5 years, I believe I paid £14 for the licence and thought this was for 10 years. The photo was taken from my passport will I have to pay another £14 in 5 years?
Carl - 28-Apr-20 @ 11:14 AM
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
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