Under current government legislation, you will need to renew your driving licence once every 10 years. If you’re in any doubt as to when this date falls, you can check your current photocard (and the paper component if you’re in Northern Ireland) for the date everything expires.
The DVLA will make every effort to get in touch, normally by post, to remind you that it’s time to renew your driving licence. This is why the agency is so insistent that they are informed of any changes to your address well in advance.
These days, most changes to the driving licence -- including renewals -- can be made effortlessly through the Government’s website.
Choose the Government’s website for a simplified procedure
Using the application form provided here, all you need to do is enter your addresses over the past three years, your National Insurance number and your passport details. It costs £14, and the new licence is posted to you within just seven days. You can pay using your debit or credit card using their secure service.
Once all of this has been completed, you will be provided with an address where your old driving licence should be sent.
In order to speed things up (and if your passport has been issued fairly recently), the photograph and signature which you provided during your passport application will be replicated on your new photocard.
Unfortunately, you will need to apply by post if you are attempting to renew a driving licence for larger vehicles such as buses and lorries -- or if your full name has changed, perhaps through marriage or a civil partnership.
If you prefer, you can find a Post Office which deals with photocard renewals instead. You will need to do a little bit of research, as not all branches are able to offer this service.
Choose the branch which provides renewals
It does cost a little more -- £21.50 to be exact -- and you will need to take your old driving licence and the reminder letter sent by the DVLA with you. Again, you cannot use this method if you need to change your name on your next photocard.
If you’re applying by post, you can also get the relevant D1 forms from most post Offices.
Once you have acquired the D1 pack of forms, either by ordering online or visiting your Post Office, you should fill out the relevant sections and pop them in an envelope. Also include a recent photo taken to the same standard as passport pictures, your old licence, and a cheque for £17 that’s payable to the DVLA.
If your name has changed, you will also need to provide identity documents which can help verify this if you haven’t got a biometric passport. Your original marriage or civil partnership certificate, your decree nisi in the event of a divorce, or a deed poll will be sufficient.
Do bear in mind that photocopies are not accepted -- but rest assured that these documents will be returned to you in reasonable time. That said, if you need are going to need the documents in question within a one-month period, you might want to consider seeking an alternative or delaying the application if possible.
In rare cases where the DVLA can’t check your identity through Her Majesty’s Passport Office, you may need to get someone to sign your form and photograph. Although it needs to be someone who has known you in a personal capacity for at least two years, they can’t be related to you or live at your address.
Good examples of someone to ask may include a police officer, a vicar, a teacher, a local business person or a civil servant -- essentially, someone who is an upstanding member of your community. The DVLA can provide further guidance if you need it.
The address for sending postal applications is as follows: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DH.
There are no costs associated with renewing your driving licence if you are a British pensioner who is aged 70 and over. This, in part, is because you are expected to renew your licence far more frequently -- every three years instead of every 10. With each application, you are going to need to demonstrate that you satisfy the minimum eyesight requirements for driving safely on the UK’s roads.
If you have sent off your licence and you’re waiting for a new one, you can only drive if you have the support of your GP -- and if your licence wasn’t taken off you or declined for medical reasons.
As with all other affairs pertaining to driving licences, there is no way to complete applications online in Northern Ireland. Because of this, you will need to fill out a DL1R form, return your licence, and provide a new photograph which has been signed and dated by a local professional.
It costs £20, and it can take up to four weeks before your new licence is sent to you. Occasionally, there can be backlogs which means there are further delays before your new documents are delivered.
Here’s the address for sending renewal applications in Northern Ireland: Driver Licensing Enquiries, County Hall, Castlerock Road, Waterside, Coleraine, BT51 3TB.