Renewing your driving licence - how and when to apply for a new photocard

For British drivers with modern photocard licences, it might seem that the little sliver of pink plastic will last a lifetime.

However, the image on the card has to be updated to make sure it still looks like you as you get older, so every licence has an expiry date on it.

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The fine for driving with an expired licence is £1,000 so it is worth checking that yours is up-to-date and valid.

How often do I need to renew my driving licence?

For most motorists with a standard car or motorcycle licence, you must renew your photocard licence every 10 years.

The front part of your photocard will show you when your licence was issued - section 4a - and the date by which it must be renewed - section 4b. You should receive a reminder from the DVLA before your current licence ends.

The rules are different for drivers aged 70 or older and for anyone who needs to renew a short-term medical driving licence.

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Drivers over the age of 70 must renew their licence every three years, while short-term licences related to a medical condition have to be renewed every one, two, three or five years, depending on the condition.

The DVLA has given drivers whose licences expire before August 31, 2020 more time to renew their licence in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone with a licence due to expire between February 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 will have automatically been given a seven-month extension.

How do I renew my driving licence?

In most cases, you can renew your licence online via the DVLA website.

To do so you must have a valid UK passport; to be a resident of Great Britain; have the address details of everywhere you’ve lived over the last three years and have your current driving licence or be able to explain why you don’t. You also need your National Insurance number (if you know it) and must not be currently disqualified from driving.

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There are different online services for over-70s and short-term medical licences.

If you don’t meet the online criteria you can renew your licence via post or at any Post Office which handles licence renewal. If you want to change your name or title on your licence you must apply by post.

To apply at a Post Office you need your current photocard and the renewal fee. To apply by post you must get a D1 pack of forms from a Post Office and send the completed forms along with your current photocard (if you have it); an unsigned passport-style photo and a cheque or postal order for £17 to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DH.

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How much does it cost to renew a driving licence?

Renewing your driving licence online costs £14 for a standard licence and is free for over-70s and short-term licences.

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The Post Office fee is £21.50 while applying by post costs £17.

How long does it take?

The DVLA is currently warning that licence renewal is taking longer than usual due to staff reductions related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Applications should not usually take more than three weeks to process but the licensing agency has said that it may currently take longer than this for drivers to receive their new licence.

Can I still drive while my application is being processed?

In most cases your new licence should arrive before your old one expires.

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However, if it doesn’t you may still be allowed to drive if: your application is less than a year old; you adhere to the classes on your current licence; you do not have a medical condition that affects your driving; you are not disqualified from driving; you were not disqualified as a high risk offender on or after June 1, 2013.

Do I have to renew my paper driving licence?

If you hold a paper-only driving licence issued before 1998, you do not have to renew it unless your circumstances have changed.

Times when you must exchange your paper licence for a new photocard licence include if you change your name or address; your licence has been lost, stolen or destroyed; or you’re getting a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) driver qualification card (DQC).

You must also renew your paper licence when you turn 70. You can apply to do this here and if your application is accepted you will be issued with a new photocard licence.

This article first appeared on The Scotsman