Renewal of driving license is delayed by weeks and an additional £7.50 due to a DVLA technical fault

4 October 2023

Drivers must utilize more expensive postal services or post offices because to an issue with online identification verification.

Renewal of a driver's license is delayed by weeks and an additional £7.50 due to a DVLA technical fault. Drivers must utilize more expensive postal services or post offices because to an issue with online identification verification.
When utilizing recently obtained passports to renew their licenses, drivers risk having to visit a post office and pay fees that are 54% more expensive than what is listed online. Those with passports issued from 2016 are impacted because of a bug on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website.

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Renewal of driving license is delayed by weeks and an additional £7.50 due to a DVLA technical fault 1

UK passport holders who use the document to prove their identity online must pay £14 to the DVLA.

Many people who have attempted to use post-Brexit passports, however, have encountered pop-up messages stating that they are unable to proceed with their application because their passport is invalid.

They are only informed that a long-standing technological fault is to blame when they contact customer service.

Drivers who are unable to renew online are advised by the DVLA websites to do so at a participating post office for a charge of £21.50.

Applications must be picked up from participating post offices and cost £17 plus postage. Postal applications are also available.

Some candidates who were unable to renew online were forced to travel up to 100 kilometers round trip to a post office that provided the service.

After her online application was denied, Helen Taylor, who resides in Scotland's Highlands, was compelled to travel a distance of 100 miles roundtrip to the closest post office that provided DVLA services.

"In 2020, my spouse and I both renewed our passports simultaneously. I was unable to renew my driver's license online, but my spouse was successful," the woman claimed. "I had to write my name on a tablet with my finger at the post office. The scribbling in the signature box on my driver's license was there when it came.

Due to the withdrawal of digital signatures from passports in 2016, there is a technical issue. The Passport Office (HMPO) made the adjustment, which eliminated signed supplemental paperwork and printed images in order to speed up online passport applications. The owner now signs the passport as soon as it is received.

However, because the DVLA transfers digital signatures held by HMPO on to photocard permits, the reform has delayed down certain online applications for driving licenses.

A signed form must be presented if HMPO does not already have the applicant's digital signature on file.

Only one post office can provide the form, and if applicants mail it themselves, the procedure takes up to six weeks rather than the five days it does for online submissions.

Only 1,200 of the UK's 11,775 post office branches offer the digital application submission option, which takes five days and costs extra. When the DVLA's contract with the Post Office expires in March of next year, the current service will be completely discontinued.

The DVLA website was silent on the technical issue as of the time of writing, which led some applicants to worry that their passport was void.

An notice, according to an agency representative, is not necessary because only a small number of people are impacted, even though the agency acknowledges that the exact number is unknown. However, in a web chat obtained by the Guardian, a customer service representative informed one rejected applicant that the issue was "widespread".

People who applied for their first passport after January 2017—including recently naturalized citizens—are particularly affected, however several people with UK passports for decades experience the same issues. Provisional license applicants are unaffected by the problem because they can upload their signature on the DVLA website, unlike other drivers.

“It was an hour and a half’s trip, an increased fee and a long wait for something I should have been able to do online in 10 minutes,” he says. “I can’t walk far due to arthritis in my knees, and the queueing caused me a lot of pain.”

When they visited, some drivers who spoke with the Guardian stated that the post office was unable to provide its digital application service. They had to send their application by tracked mail instead. They also had to pay for a postal order to pay the £17 cost because many people no longer have checkbooks. When a technical problem required one lady to submit her application by mail, she had to wait 10 weeks for her license to arrive.

The DVLA promised that the issue would be fixed by the end of 2021. In 2022, it stated the same thing. But despite years of complaints, nothing has been done about it.

A DVLA spokesperson said: “For the vast majority of drivers choosing to renew their driving licence online, we are able to use the digital signature directly from the Passport Office. For those who do not have a signature on file with the Passport Office, we are currently working on a solution which will allow them to apply online, which we hope to launch later this year.”

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