Identity documents and photograph criteria
When applying for a photocard driving licence, you may need to provide identification and a photo. Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) can’t issue a driving licence until it's satisfied that it can confirm your identity.
Do I need a photo?
You must provide a recent colour passport size photograph if you are applying for:
- a provisional driving licence
- a renewal of your driving licence
- an optional renewal of your driving licence
- an exchange of your licence from another country*
The photo may need to be certified (see below).
*You will also require proof of residency - see information below for further details.
No photo required
You do not need to provide a photo if you are applying for a:
- change of name and/or address*
- replacement** (that is, anything other than a provisional, a renewal, an optional renewal, or exchanging your licence from another country)
*If your appearance has changed since your existing photo was taken you must provide a new photograph which you may need to have certified - see below.
**A replacement is a copy of your existing licence. If your appearance has changed you will need to apply for an optional renewal instead and provide a new photograph which you may need certified - see below.
Certifying your photograph
You must have your photograph certified, unless you are required to provide, or choose to submit, a valid UK, or other EEA passport along with your application, or, are providing a valid GB photocard licence for exchange.
Passport holders from other countries must provide an authenticated photograph.
If you are in doubt about whether you need to provide a certified photograph with your application you can contact DVA on:
- phone: 0845 402 4000 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm)
The photo criteria
The photo you send will need to meet specific standards before it can be accepted for use on your driving licence.
Your photo may also need to be authenticated by having an authorised person sign the back.
Do I need identity documents?
If you currently hold a NI or UK photocard licence, identity documents are not normally required. If this is your first Northern Ireland licence, or, you are changing your name or correcting your date of birth on your existing licence, valid identity documents must be provided.
Please see the list below for the documents which are accepted.
Identity documents accepted
If you need to provide identity documents, you must provide original documents only. DVA won't accept photocopies or laminated certificates.
This is the preferred documentation accepted by DVA as confirmation of your identity:
- full valid current passport in your current name
- UK or Republic of Ireland birth certificate
You should not send your passport if you are likely to need it for travel purposes in the near future, DVA cannot guarantee return for a specific date or event.
However, in some instances DVA will accept:
- certificate of registry of birth (provided your name is present on the certificate)
- adoption certificate
- ID card issued by a member state of the EEA (ID cards issued by the UK Passport Agency are not accepted by DVA as confirmation of your identity)
- travel documents issued by the Home Office
- certificate of naturalisation or registration (with supporting documentation)
- proof of entitlement for the State Retirement Pension
If your name is now different from that shown on your passport or identity card, you must have your passport or identity card updated to show this change.
If your name is now different from that shown on your birth certificate, you must also supply original documentary evidence to confirm your change of name - for example: marriage certificate, decree absolute or decree nisi papers, deed poll or statutory declaration. The evidence you provide must show a clear link between the name on your identity document and your current name.
If you are in any doubt as to the identity documents you need to supply, you can contact DVA on:
- phone: 0845 402 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm)
Return of supporting documents
DVA will normally return your documents within 10 working days, separate from your licence. If you don’t receive them within this time, contact DVA customer enquiries.
The driving licence fee includes return of your supporting documents (where applicable) by second class post. If you would like your supporting documents returned by secure delivery, please supply an appropriate pre-paid special delivery envelope.
Please Note – DVA will not provide compensation for any loss or delay resulting from the use of second class post.
DVA can't guarantee to return your documents by a specified date, for example, a holiday.
Proof of residency
If you are exchanging a licence other than a licence issued in Great Britain, or you have previously been resident outside Northern Ireland and wish to apply for a provisional licence, you must provide DVA with appropriate proof of residency.
Documents accepted by DVA as proof that you are resident in Northern Ireland are listed below, at least one of these documents is required:
- utility bill - for example, gas, electric, telephone (not mobile)
- bank or building society statement (not credit card statement)
Please note - your document must be an original copy, not a photocopy.
Your document must be dated within the last three months, immediately preceding the date of your application for an exchange or provisional driving licence. The document supplied must also be in your name and show your Northern Ireland address.
A DVA local office may be able to check your application if you don’t want to send your identification to the DVA through the post.