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Is your driving licence out of date?

Adrienne Wyper / 14 September 2018

Don't get caught out by the £1,000 fine you could incur for having an out-of-date licence - and that includes your name and address!

A pile of driving licences to represent driving licences that need renewing

You’ll know that your passport needs to be renewed every 10 years – it’s easy to see that you can’t use your passport after its expiry date.

But did you know that your driving licence also has an expiry date?

In truth, it’s just the photo on the licence that expires, but that obviously means you have to obtain a whole new photocard.

Paper driving licences were replaced with the photocard version back in 1998; they’ve been mandatory since 2015, and the law states that the photo needs to be updated every 10 years. However, unlike on our passports, the expiry date is hard to see. 

Do you need to inform the DVLA of health issues?

How to check your driving licence expiry date

On the photo side of your driving licence are numbered points: 

1 is your surname. 

2 is your title and first name(s). 

3 is your date and country of birth. 

4a is the date of your last licence renewal. 

4b is the expiry date of your current licence.

The key to these numbers is on the licence, but it’s in tiny type at right angles on the back, so it’s easy to miss.

If you’ve had a look and now discovered that your photo is out of date, you can renew your driving licence online with the DVLA if you have a UK passport. It costs £14 and the Agency will get the photo and signature for your new licence from your passport info.

If you don’t have a UK passport, you need to fill in form D1, Application for a driving licence, which you canorder online or at some Post Offices. You’ll need a passport-type photo taken within the last month, your current photocard licence and its paper counterpart and a cheque for £17 made payable to DVLA.

So if you renew online your licence could end up with a much older photo, in which you look younger than you are, than those renewing in person, if you renew your driving licence online just before your passport expires.

It takes about three weeks for your new licence to arrive and you can still legally drive in the meantime.

Find out more on driving past your 70th birthday

Have you moved house? Or changed your name?

You also need to notify the DVLA when your address changes, even if it’s temporary, as for university students, for example. This change costs nothing and you can notify the DVLA of an address change online. In 2017 it was estimated that 1.5 million UK drivers had the wrong address on their licences. 

And if your name changes, on marriage, for example, you need a new licence in your new name.

If you fail to update these details, you could still be liable for that £1000 fine.

The DVLA says: ‘Drivers are required by law to let the DVLA know if they change their name or address. Keeping DVLA informed ensures that drivers can be notified promptly with important information affecting them such as reminders when their licence is due for renewal.’

And, of course, if you fail to notify the DVLA that you’ve moved, and your address is incorrect, you might not see the reminder they send that tells you your photo is out of date!

Have you been on an amazing road trip that you would like to share with us? We're looking for fantastic journeys our readers have been on for a new feature in the magazine. Do email with details of where you went and when, and any great pictures, along with your recommendations for places that other road users can check out on the route.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.