Most legal drivers on the UK roads today are in possession of a photocard driving licence. There are a few older drivers who still have a paper licence, and these are still legal until you reach the age of 70 or at the point when you change any of your personal details, at which time will receive a photo card.

Every photocard has an expiry date on the reverse and therefore needs to be renewed to remain valid. Most drivers will have to renew every 10 years, and individuals with certain medical conditions may have to renew their licence every 1,2 or 3 years.

At the age of 70, your licence will expire, and you will have to apply for a new photocard, thereafter the licence will have to be renewed every 3 years. After 70 you will have to declare that you are fit and healthy to drive and that your eyesight meets the minimum requirements for driving.

Forgetting to renew is not an excuse

It is your responsibility to know when your licence is coming up for renewal, you will receive a reminder in the post but if you are pulled up driving with an expired photocard ignorance is not an excuse, and you could get slapped with a £1,000 fine.

If you are involved in an accident whilst using an expired driving licence you are likely to be uninsured as your insurance company will not pay out if you are driving illegally.

Why do they expire?

The driving licence has a photo and this needs to be kept up to date, much like your passport. A photo prevents fraudulent use of driving licences and the card itself is updated with anti-fraud technology to stop fake photocards being produced by criminals.

When to renew your driving licence

It’s best to apply for your renewal at least 4 weeks before the expiry date. You can apply online (£14), by post (£17) or at the Post Office (£21.50).

Do I need a new photo for my driving licence renewal?

If you are applying online and hold a current UK passport you can enter your passport number and your passport photo will be used. If you do not have a passport you will have to get a passport photo done and apply either by post or at the Post Office.

Can I drive while waiting for the DVLA to process my licence?

If you have applied and you are waiting for the application process to go through, the DVLA say that you are allowed to drive whilst awaiting your new licence. They stipulate that you may only drive a vehicle in the class that you have on your licence, and you have not been told by a medical professional that you should not drive.

UK DPF advises that you check the date on your photocard from time to time, if it is within the next few months set yourself a reminder on your phone or mark it in your diary then you are less likely to go over the expiry date.