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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Exchanging your paper driving licence for a photocard

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) no longer issue paper driving licences. The European Union has a directive requiring all member states to issue driving licences in a card format containing the licence holder's photo and signature.

Benefits of a photocard

There are numerous benefits that the photocard driving licence offers:

  • a secure format reduces the chance for misrepresentation
  • makes certain that the person getting a provisional licence, taking the test and getting a full driving licence is one and the same
  • makes certain that the person obtaining the licence is the right age to do so
  • cuts the chances of a person holding more than one licence, either by accident or design
  • increases accuracy of the DVLA database, that will in turn provide better information to the police and courts

Apply online

You can exchange your paper driving licence for a photocard driving licence using the DVLA’s secure online service.

Apply in person or by post

You’ll need to:

  • complete the D1 ‘application for a driving licence’ available from the DVLA form ordering service and Post Office® branches
  • provide original documentation confirming your identity
  • send a passport type photograph
  • include the fee of £20.00
  • send all your documents to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BU or use the premium checking service at selected Post Office® branches or DVLA local offices

When to expect your licence

DVLA aims to deliver your new driving licence to you within three weeks of receiving your application. It’ll take longer if they have to check your health or personal details. Allow at least three weeks for your driving licence to arrive before contacting DVLA.

When your licence is issued it’ll have a number of added security features. One of the main differences is a laser engraved black and white photograph.

Driving before your licence is returned

You can drive before you receive your licence as long as you:

  • have held a Great Britain or Northern Ireland licence issued since 1 January 2024 or another exchangeable licence
  • aren't disqualified from driving
  • haven't been refused a licence for medical reasons or for failing to comply with medical enquiries
  • wouldn't be refused a licence for medical reasons (if in doubt, check with your doctor)
  • keep to any special conditions which apply to the licence

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