UK DRIVING LICENCE EXPLAINED
The latest government statistics estimate there are 32.7 million driving licence holders, that’s a massive 75% of English residents aged 17 and over, but how many of us understand the symbols and numbers on our driving licence or even what to do when we move house?
In this article, we aim to answer the most common questions asked about UK driving licences.
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HOW TO CHANGE THE ADDRESS ON A DRIVING LICENCE
It’s free to change your address with the DVLA and the quickest and easiest way to do this is online.
- Your Driving Licence
- Passport & National Insurance number (if available)
- Your addresses for the last 3 years
- Not to be banned from driving
If you are wanting to change your name at the same time then this has to be done by post.
Providing there are no other issues such as driving bans, you can continue to drive whilst waiting for your new driving licence to arrive.
If you are moving abroad then you are unable to register your new address on a British driving licence and you need to contact the driving licence authority in your new country of residence.UK DRIVING LICENCE EXPLAINED
Did you know you can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell the DVLA when your address changes? You should also remember to change the address on your vehicle log book, insurance and if you pay by direct debit your vehicle tax.UK DRIVING LICENCE EXPLAINED
HOW TO RENEW DRIVING LICENCE
If you have a valid UK passport you can renew your driving licence online.
To renew your driving licence online you will need to be a resident of Great Britain as the service varies in Northern Ireland. You’ll also be unable to renew your driving licence online if you are disqualified from driving.
Before you start the online form you should have the following to hand:
- Addresses lived at for the last 3 years
- Your current driving licence
- Your national insurance number
- A method of payment where applicable (i.e. credit or debit card)
If you do not have a valid passport then you can renew your driving licence at a post office, be sure to take with you:
- Your photocard licence, if available
- Payment information
- Reminder letter – If you do not have your reminder letter you will be unable to renew without your photocard licence.
You can also renew by post, collecting a D1 pack from the post office. Once you have completed the form you will need to include a recent passport photo, your current photocard licence and a check or postal order for any applicable fees. If you are changing your name you will also need to remember to include identity documents to support this.
HOW DO I RENEW MY OLD PAPER LICENCE?
You can renew a paper driving licence online, at the post office, or by post. You will need:
|Online||By Post or Post Office|
Are paper licences still valid?
Paper licences are still valid in the UK, they only need to be replaced if:
- You change address
- Its lost, damaged or stolen
- You change your name
- It is no longer valid
- You are getting a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence driver qualification card
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO RENEW MY DRIVING LICENCE?
If you have a photocard driving licence, it will need to be renewed every 10 years. You should receive a reminder shortly before your licence ends.
If you are over 70, your driving license should be renewed every 3 years.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENEW MY DRIVING LICENCE?
It currently costs £14 to renew a UK driving licence online, there is no fee for those over 70 or who have a medical short-term driving licence.
If you choose to renew your driving licence at a post office then it will cost £21.50 and if you apply by post it will be £17.
If you are replacing a paper driving licence for a photocard with no change of details it costs £20.
DO YOU HAVE TO CUT UP YOUR OLD DRIVING LICENCE?
Yes, if you are applying for a new licence you will be instructed to cut up and return your old driving licence to the DVLA.
When your new licence arrives and at the end of your online application you will receive instructions on this.UK DRIVING LICENCE EXPLAINED
HOW MUCH DOES A DRIVING LICENCE COST?
If you are applying for your first full driving licence after passing your test it is free however, if you wish to replace the photo with that on your provisional licence it is £17.
HOW MUCH DOES A PROVISIONAL DRIVING LICENCE COST?
Applying online for your first provisional licence costs £34, if you wish to apply by post then it is £43.
OTHER DRIVING LICENCE FEES:
|Change photo and name||NA||£17|
|Photo and address||£14||£17|
|Add, renew or remove an entitlement such as being able to drive a bus or lorry||NA||Free|
|Full foreign licence if a GB licence has not been held||NA||£43|
|Disqualification excluding drink driving||NA||£65|
|Disqualified for drink driving and need to pass a medical exam||NA||£90|
|Disqualified from driving and no medical exam needed||NA||£65|
|Given driving licence back after it was revoked under the New Drivers Act||NA||£50|
|Given driving licence back after it was revoked for not handing over to authorities||NA||Free|
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MY DRIVING LICENCE NUMBER?
Your driving licence number is point 5 on the front of your photocard licence and is 16 characters long.
- The first part of the number will be the first 5 letters of your surname. If there are less than 5 letters this will be padded out with additional 9’s
- The first and last numbers after your surname are the year of birth, the second and third numbers will be your month of birth. For females a 5 is added to the second number and the total used as the second digit. The fourth and fifth digits are your day of birth
- The third section of your driving licence number is made up of the first initial of your first name and your middle name. If no middle name is given you will see a 9
- The fourth part of your driving licence number is a randomly generated sequence of numbers
WHERE IS THE ISSUE NUMBER ON A DRIVING LICENCE?
Your driving licence issue number is next to your driving licence number and does not form part of the 16 characters, illustrated by point 5 in the previous image. For each driving licence you are issued this number will increase.
WHAT CAN I DRIVE ON MY LICENCE?
The details of what vehicles you can drive can be found on the back of your photocard licence. There are different licence categories for Northern Ireland.
Each type of vehicle is called an entitlement, these may have restrictions based on codes found on the licence.
VEHICLE CATEGORIES EXPLAINED
On the back of your licence you will see pictures of vehicles that illustrate the types of vehicles. Each will have a combination of letters and numbers next to them that specify the types of vehicle and categories that you can drive: UK DRIVING LICENCE EXPLAINED
|Vehicle Type||Category||Minimum Age||Additional Driving Test Required||Description|
|Mopeds||AM||16||Yes||2 or 3 wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of over 15.5 mph but no more than 28mph. This includes light quad bikes.|
|Mopeds||P||16||2 wheeled vehicles with speeds of over 28mph but no more than 31mph. If powered by an internal combustion engine, the engine size must be no more than 50cc|
|Mopeds||Q||16||2 and 3 wheeled vehicles without pedals and an engine size of no more than 50cc if powered by an internal combustion engine and a maximum speed design of no more than 15.5mph.
This category includes trial e-scooters.
This includes motor tricycles with a power output of up to 15kW
The vehicle should not be derived from a vehicle of more than double its power.
You are also able to drive motorbikes from category A1
You are also able to drive motorcycles from categories A1 and A2.
|Light vehicles and quad bikes||B1||17||Vehicles with 4 wheels:
|Cars||B (if test passed before 1 January 1997)||17||Usually, this allows you to drive a vehicle and trailer up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).
This information should be checked on your driving licence.
You are also able to drive a minibus with a trailer up to 750kg MAM.
|Cars||B (tests passed on or after 1 January 1997)||17||This allows you to drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats with a trailer up to 750kg.
You can tow heavier trailers if the MAM of both the vehicle and trailer is no more than 3,500kg.
If over the age of 21, you are allowed to drive motor tricycles with a power output of over 15kW.
If you are physically disabled and have a provisional category B entitlement you also have provisional entitlement to ride category A1 or A tricycles.
|Cars||B auto||17||You are entitled to drive a category B vehicle but only if it is automatic.|
|Medium-sized vehicles||C1||18||Yes||Vehicles between 3,500kg and 7,500kg MAM with a trailer of up to 750kg|
|Medium-sized vehicles||C1E||18||Yes||This allows you to drive C1 category vehicles with trailers over 750kg but the combined MAM of both must not exceed 12,000kg|
|Large Vehicles||C||21||Yes||Allows you to drive vehicles over 3,500kg with a trailer of up to 750kg MAM|
|Large Vehicles||CE||21||Yes||You may drive category C vehicles with trailers over 750kg|
|Minibuses||D1E||21||Yes||In addition to the D1, you can use trailers of over 750kg providing the combined MAM of both does not exceed 12,000kg|
|Buses||D||24||Yes||This allows you to drive a bus with more than 8 passengers seats with a trailer of up to 750kg MAM|
|Buses||DE||24||Yes||As with buses category D except you can have a trailer over 750kg|
Other categories you may see on a driving licence include:
|Vehicle||Category||Minimum Age||Additional Driving Test Required|
|Mowing machine or pedestrian controlled vehicle||K||16|
|Electrically propelled vehicle||L|
|Exempt from duty||N|
Next to each category, there is a valid from date and valid to date. If no date is shown, then you are not entitled to drive that category of vehicle.
Driving licence exemptions
Driving licences are not required for electric bikes, mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs.
WHAT DO THE CODES ON A DRIVING LICENCE MEAN?
Driving licence codes differ from categories as they tell you what conditions apply. You will find them in section 12 on the back of your photocard driving licence.
There are over 50 codes, some of the most common include:
01 – Eyesight correction is needed such as glasses or contact lenses
02 – A hearing or communication aid is needed
79(3) – Restricted to tricycles
118 – Start date is for earliest entitlement
122 – This category of your driving licence is valid upon completion of a basic moped training course
WHAT IS THE TRAFFIC LIGHT SYMBOL ON MY DRIVING LICENCE?
The traffic light symbol on the back of your driving licence is a security feature and has no bearing on any endorsements.
DO YOU HAVE TO CARRY YOUR DRIVING LICENCE?
There are no legal requirements to carry your driving licence with you, however, should you be stopped by the police they can ask you to show your:
- Driving licence
- Insurance certificate
- MOT certificate
If you do not have these documents on you, you will have 7 days to take them to the police station. If you do not take any requested documents to the police within 7 days you are breaking the law.