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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

The photocard and counterpart driving licence explained

The photocard and paper counterpart make up your driving licence. Both parts contain key information, including your personal details, vehicles you are entitled to drive (provisional and full) and any endorsements you may have.

Changes to the driving licence style

From 19 January 2024 all driving licences issued by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will be in a new format. To find out more about this change, follow the link below.

The photocard driving licence explained

Your photocard will contain your full name, date of birth, country of birth and your address.

It will also include your driver number, issue number, the start and end date of your photocard licence and an electronic copy of your photo and signature.

The front of the photocard will show the vehicles you are entitled to drive. If you have a full licence your provisional entitlement will be shown on the counterpart.

If you hold a provisional licence your provisional entitlement will be shown on the front of your photocard.

The counterpart driving licence explained

Your paper counterpart will contain your full name and address. It will also include your counterpart reference number, issue number and an electronic copy of your signature.

The paper counterpart will display any endorsements you may have and any provisional entitlement if you have a full licence.

More information on the photocard and the paper counterpart can be found on leaflet ‘Information on driving licences’ INS57P.

Replacing your driving licence if lost, stolen, defaced or destroyed

If you have lost your photocard and/or counterpart you must apply for a replacement licence as the licence is not valid without both parts. You can do this using DVLA’s secure online service.

Security features

The photocard driving licence and paper counterpart contain a number of enhanced security features that weren’t available on the older versions. One of the main differences between the two is the current photocard has a black and white photo while the older version a colour one.

The driving licence also has tactile (raised) surfaces, tactile engraved text, changing colours as well as complex background designs.

Further details about the new security features and can be found on leaflet ‘UK driving licence – level 1 security features’ INF60/7. Information on this page can be found on leaflets ‘Your photocard driving licence explained’ INF45 and ‘Your new driving licence’ INF45/1.

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