Drivers granted automatic licence renewal extension

Motorists due to renew their photocard driving licence have been granted a seven-month extension by the DVLA in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has said that anyone whose licence is due to expire between February 1 and August 31, 2020 will receive an automatic extension. A similar extension has been put in place by the Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland.

The move is intended to allow drivers to continue to make necessary journeys without having to obtain a new photograph as part of the renewal process.

It comes due to the introduction of a new EU Driving Licence Directive which looks to address difficulties caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The directive says: “In order to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market, a high level of transport safety, to provide legal certainty, and to avoid potential market disruption, it is necessary to adopt temporary provisions extending the validity of those certificates, licences or authorisations that would expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 and ensuring that they remain valid during a reasonable period of time during and after the COVID-19 outbreak."

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DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard said: “This extension will make it easier for drivers who need to update their photocard licence with a new photograph. This means as long as they have a valid licence, drivers will be able to continue to make essential journeys.

“The extension is automatic so drivers do not need to do anything and will be sent a reminder to renew their photocard before the extension ends.”

The change comes into force from June 4, 2020 and only applies to photocard licence renewal. Anyone whose entitlement to drive is due to expire, for example due to their age, and who wishes to continue to hold a valid licence will need to renew this entitlement in the normal way.

Normally drivers are required to renew their photocard licence every 10 years, and bus and lorry drivers every five years. Driving entitlement on a car (Group 1) licence generally remains in force until the driver reaches 70, unless revoked or surrendered. At aged 70 the driver must renew their entitlement to drive every three years if they wish to continue to hold a valid licence.