Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Identity documents and photograph criteria

When you apply for a photocard driving licence you'll need to provide identification and a photo. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) can’t send you a driving licence until it's satisfied that it can confirm your identity.

Identity documents

You must provide original documents. DVLA won’t accept photocopies or laminated certificates.

United Kingdom (UK) digital passports

If you hold a digital passport (the photograph and signature appear on the same page), DVLA can confirm your identity with the Identity and Passport Service. You don’t have to send your passport to DVLA.

When applying online you’ll be asked to provide your nine digit passport number allowing DVLA to confirm your identity.

If you apply by post, using the D1 'application for a driving licence', write your nine digit passport number and your signature in the 'confirming your identity' section of the D1 form.

Other types of identification

DVLA also accepts the following documents as confirmation of your identity. Unlike the digital passport though, you'll need to send your identity document with your application:

  • full valid current passport
  • biometric residence permit (formerly known as the identity card for foreign nationals)
  • UK certificate of naturalisation

Do not send in your passport if you need it within the next month. If this is the case you should consider delaying your licence application until you can send it with your passport to DVLA.

If you’ve reached State Pension age, you can provide originals of one of the following in your name:

  • recent (within three months) bank or building society statement showing your pension payment and National Insurance number
  • BR2102, BR2103 or BR5899 letter confirming your eligibility for the State Pension

UK birth and adoption certificates

UK birth and adoption certificates can also be used, however, as they are not absolute proof of identity, they must be accompanied by one of the following:

  • National Insurance card or a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions containing your National Insurance number
  • photocopy of the front page of a benefits book or an original benefits claim letter
  • P45, P60 or pay slip
  • marriage certificate or divorce papers (decree nisi or absolute)
  • college or university union card or school record

If you don't have a birth or adoption certificate, or the one that you have doesn’t show your full name or country of birth, contact your local register office.

Change of name

You’ll also need to provide evidence if your name has changed and is different to the identity document you provide, like an original marriage certificate, decree nisi or absolute, or deed-poll declaration.

The details you provide must show a clear link between the name on your identity document and your current name.

Return of your identity documents

DVLA will return your licence and identity documents separately, it cannot guarantee to return your identity documents by a set date. If you would like your identity documents returned by special delivery, include a stamped self-addressed special delivery envelope with your application. Keep a note of the serial number.

If you do not get your identity documents back within two weeks of receiving your photocard licence, phone DVLA Customer Enquiries on 0300 790 6801.

Note: unless you contact DVLA within three months of the date you sent your application, it will be difficult to carry out the necessary investigation.

The photo criteria

You’ll need to send a photo that meets specific standards to be able to use it on your driving licence. The photo may also need to be certified by having someone sign the back of the photo.

Premium checking service

A Post Office® or DVLA local office can check your application and send it on to DVLA. This service isn’t available for online applications.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Get Highway Code reminders

Get reminders about the Highway Code by following it on Twitter and Facebook

Access keys

If you would like to take part in our website visitor survey, please visit the site and then come back and select this link to take part in the survey.