Full UK driving licence guide

What you need to know

Getting your first full driving licence is a rite of passage, allowing you to drive unsupervised for the first time. Whether you’ve just passed your test, or you've been driving for years, it’s an important document that confirms you’re able to drive, and in which category of vehicle.

Here’s our guide to applying for, renewing, and replacing your full UK driving licence.


First Licence? Here's how to apply




If you’ve passed your practical driving test, you can apply for your full UK driving licence.

If you already have a provisional licence with a photocard and you haven’t changed address, your driving examiner will send your pass certificate to the DVLA, and your full licence should arrive within three weeks.

If you’ve had a change name or address since you got your provisional licence, or if you have a paper provisional licence, you’ll need to take care of applying for your full licence. Follow these steps.


  • Complete the declaration on your practical driving test pass certificate
  • Fill in a D1 ‘Application for a driving licence’ form, available from the DVLA and selected post offices
  • Provide a valid UK passport, or another form of ID, to confirm your identity
  • Pay £34 online or £43 by cheque or postal order
  • Submit the form in person at your local Post Office, or post it to the DVLA


Did you know?

From March 1st 2017, drivers caught using their mobile phone will get six penalty points and a £200 fine. If you get just six points in the first two years after passing your you will lose your licence.


Renewing your licence - when and how?

To ensure your photocard full driving licence stays up to date, you need to renew it every 10 years. It’s a simple process and you can do it online or by post.

You can apply using a Government Gateway ID - a secure account that lets you use national and local government online services. Don’t worry if you don’t have one yet - you’ll be given one as part of your application.

You’ll need:

  • A valid UK passport
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your current driving licence
  • The address/es where you’ve lived for the past three years
  • An up to date passport photo - you can submit this using the online form
  • £14 if using the online system, or £17 if renewing by post

When you turn 70, you’ll need to renew your licence and confirm that you can still read a number plate from 20 metres away. There is a separate application process for this, and it’s a free service.




Updating your details or replacing a driving licence

It’s important to keep your details up to date - you can be fined up to £1,000 if you continue driving with a licence showing the wrong name or address. If you just need to change your name or address, you can do this for free.

If you’re changing your address, you can do this online but you’ll need to apply by post to change your name.

If you lose your driving licence, or it gets stolen, damaged or destroyed, you can apply for a replacement online. You’ll need a passport, or other valid form of ID to do this, plus a fee of £20.


Not a UK resident?

If you’re from outside the UK but have a full driving licence issued in another country, you may be able to use it to drive in the UK. However, be aware of how long your licence is valid for, and the category of vehicle you’re able to drive, as this will vary depending on where your licence is from, and what it covers. For instance:

  • If your licence was issued anywhere in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), you can use it to drive an ordinary car, as opposed to a bigger vehicle such as a large van or a bus, in the UK for as long as you like
  • If your licence is from outside the EU or EEA, you can use it in the UK to drive an ordinary car for a period of 12 months only - after this, you will need to apply for a UK driving licence

Find out more about car insurance from Swinton...

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