How to renew your UK driving licence: online and postal methods to get new photocard licence from DVLA

How to check when your licence expires, how to renew it, how much it costs and the different rules for drivers aged 70 or above and those with paper licences

A new investigation has found that nearly one million motorists have failed to renew their driving licence in the past year.

The probe by the PA news agency revealed that 926,000 drivers allowed their licence to expire between September 2021 and September 2022, leaving them at risk of a £1,000 fine. As well as being a legal requirement to drive, a valid driving licence is also a widely accepted form of photo identification, so it’s important to make sure yours is up-to-date and valid.

When 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. This is to ensure that the image on your licence is still an acceptable likeness. You can check when your licence expires by referring to the front of your photocard. Section 4a shows when your current licence was issued and section 4b shows the date by which it must be renewed. You should also receive a reminder from the DVLA around 56 days before your current licence expires.

Section 4b on the front of your licence gives its expiry dateSection 4b on the front of your licence gives its expiry date
Section 4b on the front of your licence gives its expiry date

Rules for drivers aged 70 and over

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

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 (there’s a different service in Northern Ireland); have the address details of of where you’ve lived over the last three years; have your National Insurance number and your current driving licence or be able to explain why you don’t. You must also not be currently disqualified from driving. 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 a 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 send 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.

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. The fee for renewing your licence at a Post Office is £21.50 while applying by post will cost £17.

How long does it take?

The DVLA says that it normally takes up to three weeks for drivers to recieve their new licence after their application has been received. In cases where medical details or personal information has to be checked, it can take longer.

Can I still drive while my licence renewal is being processed?

In most cases your new licence should arrive before your old one expires. 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 1 June 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).