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Renewing Your Photo Driving Licence Every 10 Years

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 29 May 2017 | 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]
Jimmy licemce is due to run out on the 1st of just will I be ok if I only send the forms tomorrow 30th July, I totally forgot and just remembered but now I'm panicking that I'm sending them too late, I will be sending them recorded next day delivery so they should receive the day before it's due to run out, I'm I going to be ok sending them so late? I just got a new driving job I can't loose it
Ni - 29-May-17 @ 7:06 PM
Hello, I have just discovered that my photo card driving license has expired....I did not receive and correspondence from DVLA about renewing it which I would have done immediately( I suffer from GAD, general anxiety disorder). I've read all of the advice and info on the dvla website and your helpful remarks. The rules are extremely confusingthe back of the cardstates valid until 11 July 2058 which will be the day before m y 70th birthday. My current car died today and I wish to start hiring a zip car....that's when all of this mess started unravelling none of it my fault! I can't renew the photo card online since my passport is valid from 2008 to 2018(more than 5 years ago)... How do I get the photocard renewed if I didn't actually received the renewal letter from DVLA in the first place ?! PLEASE HELP !!!
Peat - 20-Feb-17 @ 7:35 PM
RED - Your Question:
What do I do with the licence that has run out? im not sure if I have to return it to the DVLA.?

Our Response:
You are supposed to return it to the DVLA.
YourDrivingLicence - 13-Dec-16 @ 2:03 PM
what do i do with the licence that has run out?im not sure if i have to returnit to the DVLA..?
RED - 12-Dec-16 @ 6:25 PM
Shady - Your Question:
HiSorry Ive just found out my card expired months ago and I've just started a new job.they have told me I can't work until late my new card comes.Is there anything I can do about this??I need to work.

Our Response:
Nto really. YOu could try calling DVLA to speed your application up?
YourDrivingLicence - 3-Aug-16 @ 2:21 PM
Hi Sorry Ivejust found out my card expired months ago and I've just started a new job.they have told me I can't work until late my new card comes. Is there anything I can do about this?? I need to work. ...
Shady - 2-Aug-16 @ 6:23 PM
tina - Your Question:
Hi I have just renewed my photo licence but now I am unsure what do do with my old one.Obviously cut it in half but am I to return it to dvla or dispose of it myself? Thanx

Our Response:
The DVLA says "You must send your old photocard licence to DVLA when you get your new licence. You’ll be told the address to use when you finish the application."
YourDrivingLicence - 15-Mar-16 @ 2:45 PM
Hi I have just renewed my photo licence but now I am unsure what do do with my old one. Obviously cut it in half but am I to return it to dvla or dispose of it myself? Thanx
tina - 14-Mar-16 @ 1:23 PM
hi do I cut my fathers old licience and return to dvla ...he`s 80 just received hisnew 3 year licience
jo-beds - 25-Feb-16 @ 10:04 PM
daveyjay - Your Question:
Hi I was just checking my licence for hiring a car when I go away on holiday and the valid date is 01-12-10 and the expiry date is 06-01-13 not 10 years presume it is an error of some sort !!! Do you know the reason why and if I have to renew it can it be done on line with out a renewal form as I don't have one.I am 52 years old so not over 70 were I know you have to renew every 3 years.

Our Response:
Not unless you have a medical problem or something that has influenced your driving licence in the past. Try renewing it online... that's the best way to find out if you can. If it doesn't work, you'll need to get in touch with the DVLA
YourDrivingLicence - 11-Feb-16 @ 12:01 PM
Hi I was just checking my licence for hiring a car when I go away on holiday and thevalid date is 01-12-10 and the expiry date is 06-01-13 not 10 years presume it is an error of some sort !!! Do you know the reason why and if I have to renew it can it be done on line with out a renewal form as I don't have one. I am 52 years old so not over 70 were I know you have to renew every 3 years.
daveyjay - 9-Feb-16 @ 1:08 PM
I renewed my photocard online in September 2015 but still haven't received the new photocard.
Mary - 9-Jan-16 @ 6:37 AM
Hi I passed my driving test in 2015, I am a type 1 diabetic and have had no serious episodes to affect my driving. I received my license with a 5 month expiry date, it's due to be sent back soon as it runs out the 1st of March. Can anyone explain for the small period of time my license is valid and how long it would take for it to be renewed. Thanks
Reecer - 1-Jan-16 @ 1:06 PM
lucy - Your Question:
My photo expired in 2009. Can I just renew the photo normally?

Our Response:
If your passport photo is up to date you should be able to renew your photocard licence online.
YourDrivingLicence - 19-Nov-15 @ 12:49 PM
My photo expired in 2009. Can I just renew the photo normally?
lucy - 16-Nov-15 @ 1:45 PM
hi, i would be very grateful for some advice... i have an old paper licence. the address on it is my parents' house - i never updated it because i moved around a lot when i was young and have not owned a car for more than 20 years (and didn't realise til now it could be invalid). i only drive my parents' car occasionally. i am a named driver on their insurance - obviously the car and the insurance are registered at their address and so match the address on my licence. am i breaking the law? i have not lived at their address for 18 years - could i be fined retrospectively? and could this invalidate their insurance? i would like to update my driving licence but i think i would need a valid passport, which i don't have.is there any other ID i can use? thanks for any advice!
fred62 - 1-Nov-15 @ 2:36 PM
hi there,when i was in uk i sent my driving licence and counterpart to dvla to change my name on the driving licnce.i did this almost a year & a half ago.know i am living in germany permanently and know last month my driving licence expird 08-09-2015.i write a letter to dvla to explainevery thing and i send my passport copy and german resident card copy and i told them i pass my d/licence 1994 in uk.they have my photo card licence and counterpart.can i get any confirmation or my driving licence back .then i can go to german licence authority to exchange to german licence.can any body help me on this,i will be very great full.many thanks
samei - 27-Oct-15 @ 7:49 PM
I passed my driving test in October of 2010 and my Picture Card Driving Licence at 4a says 28-10-10 but at 4b it says 13-05-14. I am not currently driving thankfully but according to my Licence the card has expired and yet I thought it was supposed to last 10 years! Should I go online and renew it even though they only gave me under 4 years?
Saya - 12-Aug-15 @ 6:48 PM
Gem - Your Question:
My pervisional licence picture has expired and I was just wondering if I could still use it as ID as I don't drive

Our Response:
Usually when asked for ID, it's expected that you produce a current/valid document. If you are not intending to drive at the moment, maybe you should look at finding another form of ID.
YourDrivingLicence - 7-Aug-15 @ 11:33 AM
My pervisional licence picture has expired and I was just wondering if I could still use it as ID as I don't drive
Gem - 6-Aug-15 @ 6:47 PM
@Maggie. Send them both to the same one (the renewal one might be better), that way they'll hopefully be dealt simultaneously.
YourDrivingLicence - 6-Jul-15 @ 1:46 PM
I need to renew my driver's license because my 10 years are up.However I also need to update my address as I have recently moved.According to the form the DVLA sent me, when you send your documents off, there are different post codes, depending on which service you need. I am now in a dilemma - which postcode should I send my old license to - the one for the new photo or the one for the change of address? Thanks in advance for your help!
Maggie - 2-Jul-15 @ 1:03 PM
I have just moved, therefore need to advise a change of address and tried online. After numerous page after page covering the same ground, I finally reached the point where they want you to put the number on the reverse of your plastic driving licence. I did so, to find that it is apparently incorrect. After numerous attempts, the form tells you that you have to declare it lost / stolen with the police crime number and do the application via the post and also pay for the change, despite the fact that I have the licence in my hand. I would then be illegally reporting a stolen / lost card and can get fined. One doesn't pay for a change of address, so this is a blatant con to force everyone into paying for the change of address. THEN, when you attempt to obtain help, there is none. You are automatically referred back to the relevant form that isn't working correctly, hence creating the never ending circle. Where are humans? Why cannot there be a call support centre? why cannot there be a complaints section? Why cannot there be a reporting website faults form somewhere. With staff sitting around for hours not working with only discussing potential staff cuts, if they got off their rear ends and actually sorted out problems, then they are actually putting themselves out of work. A ludicrous situation ! Meanwhile, I have not been able to change my address and I am left at risk of prosecution for failing to do so ( another opportunity to raise funds? ) . This also affects other things also, in that my passport address is also now incorrect and my vehicle address for tax is also incorrect. Therefore even more opportunities to raise monies in fines. I doubt that there will be a response to all this from the DVLA as they are too busy reviewing their redundancy packages to do any actual work.
conning by the gover - 1-Jul-15 @ 6:39 AM
Just realised my license ran out in November 2014. I also need to change the address. How do I do this... Dvl a online won't allow me too.
Sue - 23-Jun-15 @ 9:02 PM
@Max. No if you don't have a passport you will need to apply via post or at a Post Office.
YourDrivingLicence - 12-Jun-15 @ 11:57 AM
Hi, I need to renew my licence from a paper one to the new one, do I need to have a passport as it's expired?
Max - 8-Jun-15 @ 10:28 PM
@kimmi1975. No just apply for a new one quickly.
YourDrivingLicence - 7-May-15 @ 12:26 PM
@skater. A driving licence has to be renewed every 3 years after the age of 70.
YourDrivingLicence - 5-May-15 @ 2:24 PM
I have lost my drivers license - both photo card and paper bit, it has probably run out now. Will i still get a fine as I havent driven or owned a car for almost 6 years
kimmi1975 - 30-Apr-15 @ 8:07 PM
My driving licence expires today Update phono I sent it off 2weeks ago with a cheque put the wrong amount on the cheque revived it back today I will be changing in amount a posting back am I still legal to drive
Spook - 29-Apr-15 @ 8:13 PM
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