How do I renew my driving licence?

21 September 2023

Is your licence valid - do a quick check to save a fine of up to £1,000.

More than two million people are driving with expired licenses, which might result in a fine of up to £1,000. This manual explains how to verify its validity, renew it, make sure you have coverage when driving abroad, and what to do if you still have a paper license.

Check your driving licence NOW or risk a fine of up to £1,000

There are three big checks to do on your driving licence. Dig yours out NOW and ensure you do 'em all, or you could be stung with a fine of up to £1,000.

1. Check the photocard expiry date

In 1998, photocard licenses took the place of paper licenses, and they need to be renewed every ten years. In 2022, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) informed us that more over two million licenses were no longer valid, however this number will also include licenses held by people who no longer drive.

It's simple to forget, but doing so immediately could prevent you from receiving a fine of up to £1,000. Although renewing costs an irritating £14 (£17 if you do it by mail), it's much preferable to paying a fine.

The photo expiry date, which is displayed in section 4b on the front of the photocard, is the one you need to pay attention to out of all the dates that are present. If your photocard is indeed missing, follow the instructions for renewing below.

How to have your license renewed

Whether you are replacing a lost or stolen driver's license or renewing one, the procedure is the same. Three methods exist for applying:

  • Online. If you have a current UK passport, you can submit an online application at
  • By mail. Alternatively, anyone can order forms (known as "D1") on the DVLA website or pick them up at most post offices.
  • In person at selected post offices. The Post Office charges an extra £4.50 to take your photo on top of the £17 fee, but the £21.50 total also includes posting off your application.

What is the price?

As previously mentioned, there is a fee of £14 for each online renewal and £17 for renewals sent in the mail. A few weeks before your license expires, a notice and paperwork ought to be mailed to you. Making a note of when yours expires is very worthwhile, though many people overlook this or forget.

Driving permits are generally valid until the age of 70, at which point they must be renewed every three years, even if the photocard needs to be replaced every ten years. This is free if you merely need to change your name or address, or if you're over 70 and just renewing it. You are permitted an unlimited number of free updates to your name and address.

How far in advance of expiration do I need to renew?

The optimum time to renew is around a month before your license expires, when you'll receive a notice. If you renew online, the DVLA claims you should receive your new license in less than a week.

The DVLA advises customers to renew online because doing so can save up to three weeks than doing so by mail. The easiest approach to ensure that you have a new license in hand is to renew around four weeks before it expires. This is the safest course of action.

I already have an expired photocard; will I be penalized?

Although there won't be a penalty for renewing after the deadline, the DVLA advises against driving if your license has already expired until it has received your completed renewal application (see directly below).

Can I operate a vehicle before I receive my new license?

The DVLA claims that if your license expires while it is processing your application for a renewal, you should be able to keep driving as long as you comply with certain requirements, such as only operating vehicles that you were permitted to operate on your prior license, not receiving a recommendation from a doctor or eye doctor not to drive, and not being disqualified from driving.

Make sure you meet the medical requirements for driving before applying for a medical driving license, which means you have informed the DVLA of a medical issue.

See the guide Can I drive while my application is with the DVLA? on the website for more details.

2. Check your correct address is on it

Check now to make sure your address is accurate since failing to update it could result in a fine of up to £1,000 if you are stopped by the police.

If your address is incorrect, you can alter it online at or by mail (for details, see You can do this as many times as you like for free, which is convenient if you decide to relocate again in the future.

3. Check your name or gender is correct if you've changed it

The third check is to confirm that the information on your driving license is accurate, notably the name if it has changed after getting married.

A 2013 study by the insurance Direct Line discovered that 3% of married women's licenses had outdated names, which oddly enough might result in a fine of up to £1,000. So check right away if you think you might be impacted.

Order the "D1 application for a driving licence" form from the website and mail it to the DVLA along with the required documentation (forms are also available from most post offices). This will update your name or gender on your license. Fortunately, you can adjust your name as much as you'd like for free, just like you can with address updates.

Will my photocard's expiry be renewed if I update my address or name?

If you're only changing your personal details, the photocard's renewal date won't be updated. While it's free to change personal details, if you decide to include a new photo to renew your photocard at the same time, this will still cost you £14 online, or £17 by post. But if you're only updating your address or name, you don't need to send a new photo unless your current photocard has expired.

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