Your driving licence needs to be renewed every 10 years in the UK, unless you’re over the age of 70, in which case you’ll need to renew it every three years.
You also need to change the address on your driving licence whenever you move house permanently; temporary changes of address – such as when you’re studying at university – aren’t a problem as long as you can be contacted at home. Failing to update the details on your licence could land you with a fine of £1,000.
Fortunately both changing the address and full licence renewal are straightforward tasks, and you can do both by getting in touch with the DVLA directly. Be wary of companies that offer ‘online support’ for renewing your driving licence: they usually charge a service fee and it will end up costing you more money. If you’re going through the process online, only use the official gov.uk website.
The DVLA will send a reminder in the post to drivers whose licences are about to expire. If you want to double check yourself, the expiry date is item ‘4b’ on the front of your licence photocard.
How to change the address on your driving licence
To do this, you’ll need your driving licence photocard, your passport and your National Insurance number. You also need to be a resident of Great Britain (there’s a different process in Northern Ireland) and be able to provide all the addresses you’ve lived at over the previous three years. You mustn’t be banned from driving.
You can change the address on your driving licence for free using the government’s online form. Simply fill out the details as required, making sure that all the information you’ve given is accurate.
Once your application has been submitted, your new licence photocard should be with you within a week. It can sometimes take a little longer, but if three weeks go by and you’ve not received anything in the post, you should chase it up with the DVLA.
Applying by post is also free: if you still have the D741 form when you first received your old licence, you just need to fill in the ‘changes’ segment and send it off to the DVLA along with your photocard. Failing that, all you need to do is order a licence application form, which can be obtained online or via certain branches of the Post Office: car drivers and motorcyclists need the D1 form, while lorry and bus drivers need the D2 form.
How to change your driving licence photo
If you wish, you can simultaneously update the photo on your licence if it’s valid for less than two years: if it has longer than this still to run, you’ll need to renew it fully in order to change your picture.
Doing this online costs £14, and you can either use the same photo that appears in your passport, or you can wait for a letter from the DVLA telling you where to send a fresh, passport-style photo. If you want to change your picture as part of a postal application, this costs £17, which can be paid via a postal order or with a cheque made out to the DVLA.
You can still drive while you’re waiting for your new licence photocard to arrive. If you’re over 70 or you have a medical short period licence, you won’t have to pay to update your picture.
How to renew your driving licence
As is the case with updating your address, you’ll need your driving licence, passport, addresses from the past three years and your National Insurance number in order to renew your driving licence. You’ll also need to be a GB resident who isn’t disqualified from driving.
Applying online costs £14. All you need to do is fill out the form, and be ready to pay the fee with a debit or credit card. Once you’ve received your new photocard through the post, you’ll need to return your old card to the DVLA via the address given to you at the end of your application.
Renewing your licence via post costs £17. As well as a cheque or postal order for this amount, you’ll need to send the DVLA a recent passport photo, your current photocard licence, and a completed pack of D1 forms. You can order these via the Department for Transport’s website, or pick them up at the Post Office.
As with changing the photo on your licence, if you’re over 70 or have a medical short period licence, the fees are waived.
If you have a paper driving licence issued before 1998, you don’t have to update your licence every 10 years. However, you will have to apply for a new photocard licence if you need to update your address or your name, or if your original paper licence has been damaged, lost or stolen.
What if my licence expired during the Covid-19 pandemic?
If your driving licence was due to expire between 1 February and 31 December 2020, then its validity was automatically extended by 11 months in order to help the DVLA cope with the upheaval caused by Covid-19. The extension applies from the expiry date on your licence, however you’re still obliged to apply for renewal yourself. You can do this at any point before the extension is set to end.