if you have a photocard licence, you have to change it, and update the picture, every ten years
In 1998 When photocard driving licences were introduced it was recognised that they would have to be updated from time to time – like it or not, our appearances do change and, as with passports, this has to be reflected on the licences.
So, if you have a photocard licence, you have to change it, and update the picture, every ten years. Check yours now to see if or when it needs renewing.
Inevitably there's a cost to produce a new licence and the government has said that the DVLA should re-coup this from drivers rather than from all taxpayers.
Renewing a photocard licence normally costs £20.
More than 30 million photocard licences have been issued since 1998 and DVLA records show that 2.6 million of these are due to be renewed in 2013.
Having a licence which has not been updated could lead to a fine of up to £1000 - check the renewal date on yours now.
Of more serious concern is the fact that 2 million photocard licences issued since 1998 have expired but have not yet been renewed. Besides the possibility of a fine, this could cause problems if you want to hire a vehicle or have to show your entitlement to drive to your employer.
The front of a photocard licence carries two dates
The '4b' renewal date is generally ten years after the date the licence was last issued with a new photograph - but for car drivers nearing or over 70 years of age, or with medical restrictions it is the date at which entitlement to drive ends.
If the '4b' date has passed, or is getting close you will need to act and renew the photo.
DVLA will send a reminder to drivers whose photocard licences are about to need updating.
But if you've changed address and not told DVLA then you won't get the letter.
If you change address or name then you must tell DVLA so that car registration and driving licence details can be updated,
In this case the new licence is free, and will retain the current photograph and renewal date so long as the '4b' date has not been passed.
If you still have a paper driving licence you don't have to worry about ten yearly updates though you must still notify DVLA of name or address changes.
Parliament has given powers to recall all paper licences so the more secure photocard licences will be held by everyone, but no date has been set for this and the government is well aware that it would be controversial to make everyone buy a new licence.
The AA has said that if the government insists on everyone changing, it should phase in such a move and subsidise the cost.
Keeping the details on your paper licence up to date will ensure that DVLA is able to tell you when this is happening and if you need to do something.
Having a licence which has not been updated will pose problems, particularly if you want to hire a car, or if you have to prove your entitlement to drive to your employer.
It could also lead to a fine of up to £1000 although we have had no reports of this happening for failing to update a photocard.
(16 January 2013)