When did you last look at your driving licence? And if you have looked at it recently, did you know that you have to update it every 10 years or risk a hefty fine?
You won’t be alone if you haven’t. According to a new survey, 4 per cent of the UK’s 37.5 million driving licence holders have the wrong address on their licences. That means there are 1.5m drivers whose licences have incorrect information on them. Another 2.2m driving licences have expired completely. If the Driver Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) could track them all down – unlikely as it doesn’t have a valid address for nearly half of them – and impose the maximum fine, the government would be £3.7bn better off.
What’s the penalty?
Again, if you don’t know the answer to this, you won’t be alone. Of the drivers asked by Comparethemarket.com, around 13m (35 per cent) didn’t know it was illegal to have an outdated driving licence. The maximum fine is £1000, five times the penalty for using a hand-held mobile device at the wheel.
When does yours need renewing?
That’s right: drivers need to renew their driving licences. This is a legal obligation, brought in when the photocard replaced the old paper licence in 1998. Since then, drivers must renew their photocard licence every 10 years or face a fine. According to the DVLA, there are 2.2m licences out there that haven’t been renewed. Look for the photo expiry date (point 4b) on the picture side of the licence. You might think your 10-year old self looks better. Vanity, however, can be an expensive trait.
What if I have a paper licence?
If you have a paper licence, and your name and address have not changed, you don’t have to change it to a photocard version, as it remains valid. However, these do expire, usually the day before the driver’s 70th birthday. Once you apply to renew it, a photocard will be issued.
How to renew your driving licence
The DVLA isn’t renowned for its generosity. You can renew an expired licence online, providing you’ve got a valid passport, and it’ll cost £14. But if you insist on renewing it by post it’ll set you back £17. If you’re really old school and want to do it at the Post Office it’s even more expensive, costing £21.50. One thing to be aware of: driving licences are valid from the date the application is approved. Renew yours too early and you’ll bring that renewal date forwards.
Where you live
The DVLA needs to know where you live. This is so that if you’re in an accident or you get snapped speeding by a camera, the DVLA can tell the relevant authorities. If they don’t have your up-to-date address, and you’re stopped by the police, it could cost you a £1000 fine. For many people, such as students, changing addresses is an occupational hazard. But you can warn the DVLA of any address change online and it’ll send you out a new licence free of charge.
Name changes need to be updated too
If you’ve got married – or divorced – and changed your name, the DVLA has to be informed. In research conducted by Direct Line, 3 per cent of married women were found to have the wrong name on their licence. As with the address and picture, this can incur a £1000 fine. And as with changing the address, updating the name on the licence is free and won’t affect the expiry date.