Keeping you up to speed
In the UK, it is compulsory to hold a driver’s licence, either provisional/learners or full, if you want to drive on the public highway. As it stands, you can hold just an old paper version, or the new paper version plus a photocard licence if this has been issued to you, but from 2015, the photocard driving licence will become mandatory.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in Swansea handle all driving licence applications across the UK and you can find details of how to apply for your first provisional licence on their dedicated website. You can also apply in writing by getting a D1 form from the Post Office or requesting one online.
You will pay £50 for your provisional licence and this will cover you for the entire duration of your driver training, as long as there is a competent licensed driver in the vehicle with you. To gain a full UK driver’s licence, you will need to pass a two-part driving test, with the theory test costing £31 to take, and the practical driving test costing £62 on weekdays and £75 in the evening and at weekends.
Once you have passed your test, you can upgrade from a provisional licence free of charge by contacting the DVLA.
Photocard driver’s licences are only valid for ten years, and must be replaced when they expire. This is because people’s appearance changes over a decade and their photo on the licence may no longer be an accurate representation of them. It costs £20 to renew your photocard licence.
It is estimated that as many as 2 million UK drivers have failed to renew their photocard licence as required, either because they have forgotten or because they want to avoid the £20 fee. This could turn out to be the worst kind of false economy however, as the fine for driving with an expired photocard licence could potentially be up to £1,000. The police can also seize a vehicle if the driver’s licence is out of date, resulting in a £150 release fee and an additional £20 per day.
Charges for other changes to your UK driver’s licence include:
It is completely free to change your name or address and free to renew your driver’s licence if you are over 70 years of age.
If the DVLA does not have your correct address, you risk missing important correspondence such as fixed penalty notices. If you do not receive the letters and the fine is left unpaid, your driver’s licence could be revoked.
Renewing your driver’s licence if you have been disqualified is not cheap, with £65 added on top of the other fees and costs of your conviction, including higher car insurance premiums afterwards. Should the ban be for drink driving, there may be a charge of up to £90 if the DVLA need to conduct medical enquiries.
Young drivers who have their licence revoked under the New Drivers Act will have to pay £50 to renew their licence once their revocation has expired.