Updating and Applying for a licence
Exchanging or updating your driving licence
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) no longer issue paper driving licences as a result of an European Union directive requiring all member states to issue driving licences in a card format and to contain the licence holder's image and signature.
There are numerous benefits that the photocard driving licences offer:
- a more secure format which reduces the opportunity for mis-representation
- ensuring that the person obtaining a provisional licence, taking the test and obtaining a full driving licence are one and the same
- ensuring that the person obtaining the licence is old enough to do so
- to minimise the chances of a person holding more than one licence, either by accident or design
- increased accuracy of the DVLA database, which will in turn provide better information to the police and courts
Changing a paper driving licence to a photocard driving licence
If you want to change your paper driving licence for a photocard driving licence you must complete the application form D1 that is available from the DVLA form ordering service and Post Office® branches. You will need to enclose original documentation confirming your identity, a passport style colour photograph and the fee of £19.00. Send your completed application and payment to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BU or you may be able to use the Post Office® checking service.
Changing your photo on the photocard driving licence
Your photocard driving licence is valid for a maximum of 10 years, to ensure that your photograph is kept up to date with your true likeness. The DVLA will issue you with a reminder when your photocard driving licence is due for renewal.
However, if during a 10 year period you want to change your photograph you must complete the application form D1 that is available from the DVLA form ordering service and Post Office® branches. Your new photograph that will be put on your licence must be a:
- colour passport size, (size of image 45mm x 35mm); ( black and white photographs and those not in the above format will not be accepted)
- a true likeness, showing the full face (head and shoulders), with no hat, helmet or sunglasses
- signed on the back by the person who has completed section seven of the D1 application
Who can sign my photograph?
The person who signs the reverse of your photograph must also complete section seven of your D1 application form. The following list of professions is a recommended list by the DVLA:
- a local business person or shopkeeper
- a librarian
- a professionally qualified person, for example, a lawyer, teacher or engineer
- a police officer
- a bank or building society officer
- a civil servant
- a minister of religion
- a magistrate
- a local councillor or an MP (AM, MEP and MSP)
This person must have known you personally for at least two years and must not be a relative, (some professionals may charge you for this). DVLA will carry out checks on those who sign your photograph and D1 form. Send your completed application, the fee of £19.00 and your current photocard driving licence to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BU. There is no need to send identification with this application.
How long will my licence take to be returned?
DVLA aim to deliver your driving licence to you within three weeks of receiving your application. It might take longer if we have to check on your health or personal details. Please allow at least three weeks for your licence to arrive before contacting DVLA.
Can I drive before my licence is returned?
Once the DVLA has received your valid application, the law allows you to drive before the licence arrives as long as:
- you have held a Great Britain or Northern Ireland licence issued since 1 January 1976 or another exchangeable licence
- you are not disqualified from driving (there are different rules for medium or large vehicles, minibus or bus drivers - the traffic commissioner for your area will decide whether to grant your entitlement to drive these vehicles)
- you have not been, and would not be, refused a licence for medical reasons
- you keep to any special conditions which apply to the licence
Please note that DVLA no longer issues plastic wallets with photocard driving licences. This decision was taken primarily to help minimise the costs of issuing licences to the public. The agency has also received numerous complaints from members of the public about the size of the plastic wallet. Consequently many drivers discard the wallet and use a different way of protecting their licence. Old plastic wallets sent in to the agency cannot be returned.