How to update or renew your driving licence — The ultimate guide

renewing driving licence

Everyone knows you can’t drive without a licence, but you should also remember that your license doesn’t last forever. Just like road tax, you will need to keep a close eye on the validity of your driving licence to make sure you’re driving legally. The driving licence you get when you pass your driving test is just the first — you’ll need to update it throughout your driving life.

How to renew driving licence documents that have expired

It’s relatively easy to renew a driving licence and the most important part is simply to make sure you do it! The process for renewing a driving licence is the same as if you were replacing one that has been lost or stolen. You will be charged more for a replacement card rather than a licence renewal, though, so make sure you’re choosing the right option.

You can renew or replace your licence in the following ways:

  • Online
  • By post
  • At post offices

Online is the quickest way, though the service offered by the post office can include the photo you require, plus the postage fees. If you are struggling to take a suitable photo at home, it could be a good option.

It costs £14 to renew your licence online through the DVLA site, and £17 to do so via post. There is a fee of around £5 if you wish to have your photo taken by the Post Office.

When should I renew my driving licence?

You should renew your licence according to the date on your current licence photocard — if it has expired, you need to apply for a new one. Generally, this is once every ten years. Once you pass 70 years old, though, you will need to renew your licence once every three years.

The DVLA will send you a reminder that your licence is due for renewal, much like the V11 is sent to remind you about road tax. Just like the V11, though, you shouldn’t be dependent on this letter as being your only reminder. Take a note of your licence’s expiry date, and keep on top of your renewal application. If you are selling your car, you may need to present a driving licence that is valid as well.

renew driving licence by post
You can renew your licence by post or online.

What if I didn’t receive my reminder from the DVLA?

The reminder sent by the DVLA, also known as a D798 Renewal Reminder, may be requested by the post office if you choose this method. Generally, you can still make your renewal application without it, so long as your details remain the same. If you have changed name or address, then you will have to apply online directly with the DVLA.

Can I drive while my licence is being renewed?

So long as the DVLA has received your application for licence renewal, you can still drive, but it is recommended to wait for your new photocard. This is to ensure that, if you are pulled over, your photocard is up to date and accurate. Driving without a valid licence can lead to a fine of £1,000 and several points on your licence.

How to renew driving licence at 70

Once you have passed your 70th birthday, your renewal reminders will become more frequent. You will need to renew your licence once every three years.

How to update your driving licence

To update your driving licence you will need to provide some key details, including:

  • A valid UK passport
  • Proof you are a resident of Great Britain
  • Addresses where you’ve lived in the past 3 years
  • Your current licence (or an explanation as to why you don’t have it)
  • Your national insurance number

You must also not currently be disqualified from driving. For applying online, you will also need a debit or credit card to pay the £14 renewal fee. When your new licence arrives, you will be asked to cut your old licence in two and return it to the DVLA.

If you are over 70 years old, you will also need to prove:

  • You have the support of your doctor to continue driving
  • You drive only under the conditions of the previous licence
  • Your application is less than a year old
  • Your last licence wasn’t refused or revoked for medical reasons
  • You are not currently banned from driving
  • You have not been disqualified as a high risk offender since June 2013
renew driving licence
It costs £14 to renew a licence, but address and name changes can be made for free.

How to update your driving licence photo

Updating your driving licence photo is charged at £14 and can be done online, by post, or at the post office. There is no option to update only your photo, so this process is exactly the same as general renewal, and your updated photo card will have a ten-year validity and make your old licence outdated.

How to update the address on your driving licence

If you are found to be driving on a licence that features the wrong address, you can face a fine of up to £1,000. The same goes for driving under an old name e.g. if you were recently married and took your partner’s surname, or if your gender is no longer accurate. Renewing a licence in order to update these details is free, no matter how often you apply for a change. As with general renewal, it’s advised you wait for your new photo card to arrive before driving.

If you apply only to change name or when updating your address, and not the photo, then your expiry date on your new card will be the same as the previous one.

Are points on my licence removed when I renew it?

No. Points on your licence last either four or ten years depending on your offence. So, even if you gained a point in the final year of your licence photo card being valid, it will still be there when the card is renewed. After the set period of four or ten years, the points will expire and the DVLA will remove them.

How long does it take for my driving licence to be renewed?

Generally, it should take around one week for your new licence to arrive, but it can take longer.  For postal applications, this can be as long as three weeks. It’s recommended you apply for a renewal around one month before your card’s expiry date. This is also when you can expect a reminder letter from the DVLA.

What about my paper driving licence?

To renew a driving licence, UK drivers used to have to present the paper part of their licence along with a photo card. This is no longer required.

Car ownership and key documents

There’s more to owning a car than just a set of keys! Check out our handy guides on essential things car owners should know!

Car ownership — ways to own and finance a car
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How to transfer car ownership
What documents do I need to sell a car?
V5C — The ultimate guide
Service history — the ultimate guide
Selling a car without a V5C
How to tax your car
How to buy or sell a private number plate