Is your UK driving licence about to expire?

Find out how to renew your licence - and answers to many other licence renewal questions - in our complete guide.

Image of driving icence

How long is a UK driving licence valid for?

Your first driving licence will expire 10 years after issue. Before expiry, as a UK motorist you are required by law to apply for a new one - which will also expire after a decade.

 

Why is it important to renew your driving licence?

You could face a fine of up to £1000 if you are found to be driving with an expired licence. You may also face other fines if you do not update the DVLA with name and address changes in a timely manner.

A renewed licence - with an up-to-date photo - ensures police and other enforcement agencies have a true likeness of you. This helps ensure driving licences are not being used fraudulently, and stops 'driving licence impersonation' - where disqualified or dangerous drivers are getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when they shouldn’t be.

You'll also need an updated driving licence if you've changed name or address.

 

Driving licence renewal notice reminders

You'll receive a renewal reminder letter from the DVLA before your licence is due to expire. However, your address must be up to date.

Image of woman using laptop to renew driving licence

How to renew your driver’s licence: online

You can renew your driving licence online by using the Government website.

If you’re wondering: what's the simplest and easiest way to renew my driving licence? This is arguably it.

It costs £14.

 

To renew your driver's licence online, you'll need:

  • To be a resident of Great Britain (Northern Irish drivers must use a different service)
  • A valid UK passport
  • Your addresses for the past three years
  • Your current driving licence (if you do not have it you must explain why on the application)
  • Your National Insurance number

 

What about organising a photo for the renewed licence?

If you have a digital passport, the DVLA will use the photo the associated photo - which they'll have on file.

However, if the photo cannot be used by the DVLA, or you wish to change the photo, you can send a photo to them in the mail.

 

You cannot use the online service if your name or title have changed.

 

How to renew your driving licence: at the Post Office

You only need your photocard driving licence and your renewal reminder to renew at a Post Office. It costs £21.50.

The Post Office will take your photo and capture your signature. You then simply pay and the Post Office will send off the application to the DVLA (this includes the DVLA fee for postal applications of £17).

 

How to renew your driving licence: by post

Applying by post costs £17. You’ll need:

  • D1 pack for DVLA photocard renewals (available at a Post Office)
  • Identification if you've changed your name

 

Renewal dates

There are two important dates listed on the front of your photocard:

  • 4a - licence issue date
  • 4b - date by which the licence must have been renewed

 

For most drivers, 4b is usually 10 years after 4a - unless you're due to turn 70 (or have medical restrictions), in which case it will expire on that date.

The photo will need to be renewed if the 4b date is imminent or has passed.

Image of driving licence application

Credit: Ascannio - stock.adobe.com

 

Driving licence renewals once you reach 70

You'll need to update your driving licence when you reach 70, and tell the DVLA about any medical conditions you have. You'll also need to confirm your eyesight meets the minimum standards.

It's a good idea to get an eye test before applying for a renewal.

Once you reach 70, you must renew your driving licence every 3 years. There is a different service for doing this.

 

Short-term medical driving licence

You may need a short-term medical driving licence due to a particular condition. These last for 1, 2, 3, or 5 years.

The DVLA will send you a renewal reminder 90 days before expiry.

You can renew your short-term medical driving licence online if you have Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, epilepsy, a visual impairment, a sleep condition, or a heart condition.

If your driving licence was surrendered or taken away due to a medical condition, you'll need to use a different service.

 

How to renew a provisional driving licence?

While few people need to renew their provisional driving licence, sometimes it is necessary.

You can apply to renew your provisional driving licence on the DVLA website. You’ll need the same information required for a general online renewal.

If you applied for a provisional licence before 1 March 1973, you’ll need to apply for your “first” provisional licence again.

Note that a provisional driving licence does not expire until your 70th birthday, so you’ll have plenty of time to pass your test.

 

Renew or change a lorry or bus licence

You can renew or change your 5-year lorry or bus driving licence on the Government website. There are different procedures for under or over 45s, and an entirely separate process if you live in Northern Ireland.

 

Can I still use my paper licence?

For paper licences issued before 1998 there are no 10-year renewal to contend with. You won’t need to update it to a photocard if your circumstances are the same.

However, you WILL need to update it to a photocard if your address or name has changed, or if your licence has been lost, damaged or stolen.

You'll also need to update it to a photocard if you're getting a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. Updating a photocard in these circumstances can be done online and costs £20.

 

Name, address or gender changes

If your name, address or gender has changed you'll need to renew your driving licence. There is no charge for this.

 

Renewal of your driving licence in advance

You can renew your driving licence anytime in advance of the renewal date.

The new licence will be valid from the application approval date - as opposed to the expiry date on the outgoing driving licence.

You may wish to renew your driving licence in advance, for example, if you’re planning to travel or work abroad for a long period.

 

Delays due to coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has led to delays with driving licence renewals. There was an 11 month extension for driving licences that expired between 1 February and 31 December 2020.

 

How long does it take to get a new driving licence?

Notwithstanding delays due to coronavirus, it should take a few weeks to get your new driving licence back.

 

Can I keep driving while I wait for a new licence?

Yes, you can continue driving while your application is being processed by the DVLA.

 

If you still have questions about how to renew your driving licence, you can contact the DVLA directly. Find the right DVLA contact details here.