Keep your driving licence at home to avoid identity theft, warns DVLA

Keep your driving licence at home to avoid identity theft, warns DVLA

Where do you keep your driving licence and is it safe? These are questions every driver should be asking after it was revealed that nearly one million licences were lost or stolen last year.

As if the hassle of applying and paying for a replacement licence wasn’t aggravation enough, security experts warn that lost or stolen licences can’t be cancelled. The result is crooks can continue to use another person’s driving licence as identification.

Victims of identify fraud can find that bank accounts have been opened in their name. Hire cars might have been stolen using their credentials. And new-car finance contracts could be applied for using stolen ID. To help drivers safeguard their licence and identity, here is the advice from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

What’s the scale of the problem?

Last year there were 931,527 applications for replacement driving licences. This figure does not include licences updated for a change of address or name. Although there is no mechanism for recording the exact split in numbers, the DVLA told us: “We know anecdotally that the vast majority of these are lost, and a significant number are stolen. Only a small number are damaged and require replacement.”

Why do so many lose their driving licence?

According to the DVLA, on average 8 out of 10 British motorists carry their driving licence with them. Most will lose it when they are out and about.

However, there are regional variations. Younger drivers across Great Britain are more likely to carry their licence with them (87 per cent). The older a driver gets, the more likely they are to keep their licence at home. Among the over 55s, 18.5 per cent keep their licence at home compared with 7 per cent of 16 to 34-year olds.

The DVLA found that drivers in Scotland are almost twice as likely to keep their licence in their car compared to the rest of the nation.

What are the dangers of losing a licence?

Where should drivers keep their driving licence to avoid losing it?

If your card is lost or stolen, you will be issued with a replacement. However, the new card will have the same driver number as before. That means the old licence remains valid until it expires. If it falls into the wrong hands, that can be bad news.

Together with other stolen or forged documents, a lost or stolen driving licence can be used to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, take out mobile phone contracts or even buy a car on finance. You can find out more about identity theft on the Action Fraud website.

Where to keep your driving licence?

The DVLA says the safest place to keep a driving licence is at home.

Many drivers mistakenly believe they should have it with them when driving. In fact motorists have seven days to produce requested documents if stopped by the police.

Drivers Service Manager at the DVLA, Dudley Ashford, said: “We’d recommend keeping your licence safe and secure at all times – perhaps storing it in one safe place along with other important documents.”

What does the DVLA say about licence theft?

What does the DVLA say about licence theft?

The DVLA says the driving licence is a secure document and has security features and safeguards in place to stop the picture of the driver being tampered with.

The organisation adds it knows whether a licence is the most recently issued. Having the driver number alone isn’t enough for fraudsters to access or change information on its database.

Keep your licence up to date

It is an offence not to update your driving licence after moving home. The same applies even to those who are only moving on a temporary basis, such as anyone enrolling at university. Failing to do so can result in a £1000 fine.

55 comments on “Keep your driving licence at home to avoid identity theft, warns DVLA

  1. peter esau 11/05/2018 7:41 PM

    whats going to happen to driving licences when plastic is banned?

  2. John Sargant 11/05/2018 8:14 PM

    As an hgv driver is it not law that if stopped by the Dvsa ( formerly Vosa ) I have to produce my licence ?

  3. B Cleaver 12/05/2018 9:14 PM

    Why can’t the law be change so that when a licence is reported missing to DVLA it is automatically cancelled

  4. michael. w. roberts 13/05/2018 8:55 AM

    good advice but let next of kin know the location

  5. Mike Newington 13/05/2018 9:13 AM

    very interesting. I have always carried my licence on my person for the past 57 years. I think it might be left at home in the future.

    • Finbar 01/11/2023 7:40 AM

      Mine too.
      At 77 it’s about time for me to see the sense in this.

  6. Simon 13/05/2018 10:20 AM

    So when I hire a vehicle and the company photo copies my driving license what then they have all my details and I can’t get the vehicle without complying
    And I know that some companies don’t follow the data protection

  7. Martin 13/05/2018 2:03 PM

    Good advice but I think it must be carried when travellling overseas.

  8. John Tedder 13/05/2018 7:14 PM

    Great how do they square this with the requirements for driving abroad when you are supposed to have not just your licence but the reg docs, the MOT and just about everything a car thief would need?

  9. Hugh 13/05/2018 7:49 PM

    All of this is true-EXCEPT when you’re abroad where in many cases you must have your documentation including license.

  10. M Elson 13/05/2018 9:30 PM

    I never carried my paper licence it was always at home, however when the DVLA issued the new smaller size photo card I started to carry as it now fits into a wallet.
    Maybe the DVLA should think about making the licence larger.

  11. Barbara 14/05/2018 9:09 AM

    Ones driving licence is always requested when asked for proof of identity therefore most people carry it on their person.

  12. KAREN HUNT 14/05/2018 9:23 AM

    There should be a way that banks and other organisations can check if a driving licence has been reported lost or stolen before they accept it as identification. The DVLA should provide this security measure in my opinion so that the document they have created cannot be misused.

  13. tim 14/05/2018 9:38 AM

    So what happens if your away for a 2 week holiday and get pulled the first day of your holiday, with the need to produce within 7 days, do you have to drive that 600 miles home to fetch a licence as your 7 days would be up and you would also be fined for failing to produce your documents ?

    • Chris Cox 14/05/2018 8:04 PM

      You can produce at police station of your choice.

      • Martin 06/02/2020 10:59 PM

        My bank took my driving licence because it was expired out of date by 10years

    • Eleanor Lathan 14/05/2018 10:54 PM

      Why doesn’t the DVLA. answer this question!! Don’t they know ? If they don’t know how are we the public supposed to know.!!!

      • Bob 05/02/2019 7:32 AM

        This isn’t a government / DVLA blog

    • 1955southwesterly 14/05/2018 11:42 PM

      Probably best take your licence on a fortnight holiday, just in case. If you leave it at home it might get stolen when your house is burgled!

      But seriously, why can’t a replacement license have a different driver number, I know your date of birth is “hidden” in there, but it’s an identity device and as such should be cancelable. You never know someone may loose one, oh ,they only issue a million replacements every year??? No problem then.

    • Jerry 16/05/2018 2:00 PM

      Hopefully Old Bill will cut you some slack. Maybe get a relative to access your home and find the licence to take to the police station. Could be a right saga organising this!

    • Rev E Frankland 18/05/2018 11:35 AM

      It is typical of a government agency to come up with advice without considering the personal ramifications for the situation you describe. They are a lot of berks. I am an Australian expat and have always heeded the Australian law to always have your driving license on your person i.e in your wallet. It is a rather stupid person however who leaves their license in the car.

    • David 18/05/2018 11:59 AM

      Good question Tim….no doubt there may well be conflicting advice from people here to this. The definitive answer ought to come from DVLA or the Police….is there anyone from these organisations here to answer? Or maybe Green Flag could answer here? My own take on the question is that…no, you shouldn’t need to travel back to fetch the licence. You should explain to the officer the circumstances and, provided you can prove that you were indeed going on holiday, then you should produce the licence on your return. Am I right DVLA/ Police? As a general point, I was surprised that the DVLA were advising people to keep their licences at home….I always understood that it was best to keep it with you, in case you were stopped by the Police. I don’t recall the policy of keeping it at home being widely advertised – as seemingly it should to prevent so much fraud…..

    • Bob Baxter 19/05/2018 6:37 AM

      With your correct name and date of birth, police can have full details and normally your photo within seconds, so in theory carrying your licence is unneccessary. MoT and Insurance can also be checked at the same time

    • Reg Bagley 19/05/2018 7:58 AM

      Tim, I’ve thought about your very valid point deeply and think I’ve come up with a solution.Why not take it with you on holiday but leave it at home the rest of the time?

    • James Wilson B.E.M. 19/05/2018 12:36 PM

      If you are going away from home for more than 6-7 days, then the sensible thing would be to take your licence with you, as you would do with your passport if going on holiday.

  14. Ray Hughes 14/05/2018 9:49 AM

    As a HGV driver is it not a legal requirement to carry your licence with you

  15. John 14/05/2018 7:30 PM

    Of course young people carry it – you’re not going to show your passport every time you need to display ID – something much worse/more expensive to loose.

  16. Fred Bassett 14/05/2018 7:34 PM

    Always carry a photocopy in your wallet, but the original stays at home.

  17. Mike Miles 14/05/2018 8:30 PM

    What about driving on the Continent? I believe that both card and paper licences are required.

  18. Rich 14/05/2018 8:41 PM

    The driving licence is a popular means of proving age for over 18s in bars and clubs (safer to carry around than a passport) I wonder how many are lost on a night out?

  19. John 15/05/2018 7:10 AM


    Common sense will tell us to bring our licence with us on holiday – if we’re driving. The advice from the DVLA is for normal situations – when we’re at home.

  20. Julie 15/05/2018 7:32 AM

    I imagine if you were going away you would
    take it with you, just in case….

  21. Mrs Judith Constantine 15/05/2018 10:59 AM

    Thank you – that is excellent advice – except showing a driving licence is one of the ways of proving you are you!!

  22. Gary 16/05/2018 10:52 AM

    I think you’ll find that if you explain the situation to the officer requesting the document he has the power to extend the production period. You are extremely unlikely to get prosecuted under such circumstances.

  23. Keith 16/05/2018 1:33 PM

    If the DVLA knows there’s a problem, why on earth don’t they modify their system to cancel the original when a replacement license is issued? Their lack of joined up thinking beggars belief, and it doesn’t take account of the fact that in some countries (eg France) you are legally obliged to have your license with you whenever you drive.

  24. Shell 17/05/2018 9:33 AM

    I’ll admit that I thought I had to carry my licence with me in case I got stopped by the police but it is very usual to have a photo ID with you for the same reason that identity thieves find drivers licences usual. I have to provide photo ID more often than not & carrying your drivers licence is handier than carrying your passport around with you. DL’s were a good argument against the strongly opposed National ID cards Labour wanted to impose upon us

  25. no 17/05/2018 10:57 AM

    I carry to use as proof of identity, wish I could leave it at home!

  26. Edward Alan Wood 17/05/2018 2:24 PM

    I’m going abroad in the next week or so, surely I must have my driving license with me then?

  27. Saige 17/05/2018 7:43 PM

    I think if you are driving away from the UK, perhaps in the EU, then carrying a license with you may be better as police may require it if stopped in the EU for whatever lawful reason. (Not sure of the rules there, and it is likely to be different in each region of the EU).

    I think this article points more towards those driving at home in the UK.

  28. Michael Cox 17/05/2018 8:14 PM

    Definitely keep at home. I bet have licence with the credit cards. Good news for the thief.

  29. Su R 18/05/2018 5:10 PM

    I am sure that in certain scenarios there must be an, “extenuating circumstances” clause. Surely the the Official Body will realise that there will be a delay in producing documents and be willing to wait unless, of course, there are serious reasons for the original stoppage.

  30. Mr Singh 19/05/2018 7:04 AM

    I have an old paper licence. Why do we get charged for a replacement ?

  31. ALAN FRANKLIN 19/05/2018 8:33 AM

    when i was a truck driver , i had to show my licence to a police station. told the officer that i was away for a period of 10 days and was allowed to have an agreed period to show it . no probs .

  32. Stephen Green 20/05/2018 10:46 AM

    Stupid advice. “Leave all valuable documents at home in the same place”. Eggs in one basket is not a good idea. Carry it with you at all times and do not loose it, that way you know where it is and you have a means of identification. As the previous writer comments on being away on holiday apply also. The people at the DVLA need to get out and visit real life!

  33. Gerald Layfield 28/05/2018 10:51 AM

    The answer is to use common sense. The advice doesn’t say never carry your licence. If you are going away for an extended period then it makes sense to take it with you but not to habitually carry it or leave it in your vehicle where it could be vulnerable.

  34. phil 07/06/2018 9:08 PM

    My thoughts exactly. This is bound to increase the risk of loss/fraud. And the fact that the new licence appears to be identical to the old one unless you are at DVLA is also an unavoidable risk.

  35. Jennifer Campbell 01/07/2019 6:35 PM

    What if u know the person who is using you lience details for insurance company

  36. Joan Savage 20/07/2019 9:55 PM

    My daughter is abroad, she has had her purse stolen with credit card and driving licence, has reported it to police they laughed in her face and said NO you just list it come back tomorrow. She cancelled her credit cards .but her licence is going to be the problem.

  37. Nigel A. Skeet 21/09/2019 3:48 PM

    When I was away at university on week days during the early-to-mid 1980s and early 1990s, I did NOT change my place of residence on my driving licence and was not aware that I needed to, as my parental home was normally regarded as my permanent home.

  38. Morris Christopher 22/01/2020 8:40 PM

    The DVLA are an absolute joke organisation. How can such a document not be cancelled when it is stolen in this day and age??? All they want is your money for a replacement, they’re not interested in helping you not become a victim of ID theft.

    Another instance of them being a joke; i had to get a replacement license a few years back, the replacement license got delivered to me where everything except car had been taken off my license, when i reported their balls up, they said that i should have stipulated that i wanted to keep the other vehicles on my license on renewal. Ridiculous, ‘yeah mate, not bothered about all of the other vehicles i can drive, i’ll just have car on my new one’. The best bit was that they asked ME what i had on my old license before they sent it out again, i reckon that i could have told them anything and they’d have sent it out. Absolutely shocking.

  39. Neelamk 06/09/2020 11:21 PM

    What do i do if someone is trying use my provisional licence details to get a car,without my permission and frauds my signature and other personal details what do I do. As

    • Paul Cotton 17/07/2023 10:15 AM

      The solution is to register for protective registration with CIFAS. This ensures if anyone uses the driving license to try to apply for car loan, a warning flag is set against your name and other personal details in the National Fraud Database. This tells any organisation that uses Cifas data to pay special attention when your details are used to apply for their products or services. Knowing you’re at risk, they’ll carry out extra checks to make sure it’s really you applying, and not a fraudster using your details. I think for the cost (£25 for 2 years) it makes sense to use for the peace of mind it will give you.

  40. Alfredo Panebianco 02/06/2021 4:53 PM

    Just had mine stolen today – my wallet had other cards as well. As I need to be out and about for my work I always believed I needed my licence to be with me on my person – never left on my motorbike. Now I will carry a copy of my licence and leave the real one at home.

  41. Jim 05/09/2022 8:59 AM

    Why is you address on the licence? If you lose it along with your keys a crook can just walk into your home. You would also not be insured as it is not a break in.

  42. Ronnie 24/12/2022 7:22 PM

    If you lose or have your bank card stolen or ‘compromised’ your bank will cancel your card and re-issue a new card, card number and account details stay the same the only change is the three digit security number on the back of the card! Why can’t the DVLA adopt a similar practice?

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