As a UK motorist, you must by law ensure your driving licence is valid. If your driving licence has expired, you could be liable for a fine of up to £1,000.
New driving licences are initially granted for 10 years. Although the DVLA will send you a reminder letter before your driving licence expires, it is your responsibility to ensure that your driving licence is valid.
Missing the reminder letter, or if you have not kept your registered address details up to date, will not be accepted as a valid excuse for driving with an expired licence.
Although the DVLA may offer some leniency for a delay in renewing an expired driving licence, should you be found to be driving without a valid driving licence, you are at risk of a penalty fine of £1,000.
In addition, without a valid driving licence, your insurance cover does not apply and you will be unable to make a claim if you are involved in a car accident. Driving a car without insurance is an offence in the UK.
How to renew your driving licence if you are under 70 years old
If you are under 70 years old, you are required to renew your driving licence every 10 years.
You will receive a reminder from the DVLA to renew your driving licence before it runs out, so it is important that your registered contact details are kept up to date with the DVLA.
The DVLA will accept renewal applications up to 2 months before your driving licence expires.
There are three ways to renew your driving licence:
- Post Office
To renew online you will need a Government Gateway ID. Use this to log in to the DVLA website if you live in England, Wales or Scotland. For drivers living in Northern Ireland, there is a separate service available through the nidirect website.
For the online renewal process, you will need a valid UK passport, card details to make the payment fee (unless you are over 70 years old or have a medical short period licence), your residential addresses for the last 3 years, your current driving licence and your National Insurance number.
Your renewed driving licence should arrive within 1 week. Once received, you should send your old photocard to the DVLA.
To renew your driving licence at the Post Office, you should present the DVLA reminder letter and your photocard driving licence at the counter. You will need to pay the relevant fee for the service.
Your new driving licence should arrive within 3 weeks.
Order the D1 form through the DVLA or the Post Office. When you send off the completed D1 form to the DVLA, you should include a recent passport photo, your current photocard driving licence and a cheque or postal order for the relevant fee, payable to DVLA, unless you are over 70 years old or have a medical short period licence.
Your new driving licence should arrive at your given address within 3 weeks.
How to renew your driving licence if you are 70 or older
Once you turn 70 years of age, you must renew your driving licence every 3 years. There will, however, be no fee payable to renew.
You must still be resident in the UK, meet the minimum eyesight requirement and there must be no other reasons that would prevent you from driving, such as a medical condition or where the standard of your driving is deemed unsafe.
You may apply online or through the post.
Should you apply online, you must first register an email address with the DVLA, along with details of where you have lived for the last 3 years, your National Insurance number and a valid UK passport number.
Will you be excused from the fine if you are late in renewing your expired driving licence?
Provided your current address is registered with the DVLA, you will receive a reminder letter before your driving licence expires. But if you are late in renewing your driving licence, it is at the discretion of the DVLA as to whether they will impose a fine.
However, if it is over two years since your driving licence expired, you could face an order to retake your driving test.
Should you apply for a new licence, the DVLA will generally require a reason as to why you allowed your driving licence to expire for an extended period of time.
Can you drive while your licence renewal is being processed?
You are allowed to drive while your driving licence renewal is being processed provided you meet a number of conditions.
It must be less than a year since you submitted your driving licence renewal. There must be no medical reasons that would prevent you from driving or that have led to your driving licence being revoked or refused. You must have previously held a valid driving licence and be driving under the conditions of your previous driving licence. You must not be disqualified from driving, and you must not have been disqualified as a high-risk offender since 1 June 2013.
In the situation where you are involved in a car accident while your licence renewal is being processed and your driving licence has expired, your insurance company may reject any claim you make, depending on the individual details of your insurance policy.
It is therefore advised that you renew your driving licence in good time before the expiry date.
Why does a photocard driving licence only last for 10 years?
For drivers under 70 years of age, it is necessary to renew your driving licence every 10 years to account for changes in appearance, ensuring that the police have a recent likeness should they need to identify you.
Keeping an up to date photograph of you may also help prevent fraud and identity theft.
If your appearance has not altered since your last photocard, it is acceptable to provide a passport photo with no certification.
However, if your appearance has changed, the new photo must be certified by an authorised person such as a solicitor by way of their signature on the back of the photo.
Other reasons to renew or update your driving licence
In addition to licence expiry, there are a number of other circumstances which require you to renew or update your driving licence:
- updating your paper driving licence to a photocard where your paper licence was issued after 1998
- change of address
- change of name
- replace lost or stolen driving licence
- replace driving licence damaged to an extent that it is not legible or usable
- your appearance has changed to an extent that you cannot be identified from your previous photo
Should you hold a paper driving licence that was issued before 1998 and it still holds up to date information such as your address, you generally won’t need to renew your licence until you are 70 years old unless one of the above scenarios apply.
You may, however, choose to upgrade your driving licence to a photocard at any time as a widely accepted form of identification.