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Renewing your driving licence

Unless your driving licence has been medically restricted, your ordinary driving licence entitlement will expire every 10 years, however if you drive a lorry or bus your entitlement to these categories will now be valid for a maximum of five years, up to age 65.

Changes from 8 June 2015 in GB to the paper counterpart of driving licences do not affect driving licences issued by the Driver & Vehicle Agency in NI. NI licences still require both the plastic photocard and paper counterpart.

Applying to DVA

The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) will send you a form entitled DL1R ‘application for renewal of a driving licence' approximately two months before your licence expires. This will be sent to the address held in their records, so it is important that you tell them if you change address.

thinking about going on holiday and hiring a car? If the answer is ‘yes’, checking that your driving licence will be valid well in advance of whenever you are due to travel, could save you a lot of last minute stress!

You will need to:

  • complete the DL1R form and enclose the appropriate fee
  • return your photocard driving licence and counterpart (for lorry or bus licences only)
  • include a new passport type certified photograph
  • send it to:
Driver Licensing
County Hall
Castlerock Road
BT51 3TB

Your photograph must be signed and dated on the back by one of the following:

  • MP
  • MLA
  • Lay Magistrate or Justice of the Peace
  • minister of religion
  • professionally qualified person - for example an engineer, lawyer, teacher
  • librarian
  • local business person or shopkeeper
  • local councillor
  • bank official or building society officer
  • established civil servant
  • police officer
  • someone of similar standing to the above who has known you for at least two years, and must not be related to you in any way, and must hold a Northern Ireland driving licence

You will also need to enclose original identity documentation if your name has changed since your last licence was issued.

Be alert to unofficial websites offering online driver licensing. You cannot apply for a Northern Ireland driving licence online.

Renewing without a DL1R ‘application for renewal’

If, for any reason, you don’t receive the reminder application form you can use the DL1 ‘application for a driving licence’ form. This form is available from Post Office branches or MOT test centres. You’ll also need to include a new passport type certified photograph.

Please see the links below for further information:

Return of supporting documents

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.

When to expect your licence

DVA aims to deliver your licence within three weeks of receiving a completed application but this turnaround time may be longer during the busy summer period or if your health or personal details have to be checked.

Driver Licensing will accept applications for renewal licences up to two months before they are due to expire, giving you time to plan ahead and ensure that your licence is ready in good time for your holiday.

If your licence has been lost, stolen, defaced, or damaged, applications for a replacement licence will be accepted at any time.

What if you do not receive your licence

If your driving licence has not been delivered within four weeks you should contact DVA Enquiries Section.

If you do not inform DVA within eight weeks that your licence has not arrived, you must apply for a duplicate licence and pay the relevant fee.

Driving before your licence is returned

Once DVA has received your valid application, you can drive before you receive your licence as long as you:

  • have held a Northern Ireland or Great Britain licence issued since 1 January 1976 or another exchangeable licence
  • have made a qualifying application for a licence
  • aren't disqualified from driving
  • haven't been refused a licence for medical reasons or for failing to comply with medical enquiries
  • wouldn't be refused a licence for medical reasons (if in doubt, check with your doctor)
  • keep to any special conditions which apply to the licence

Medical condition

You must tell the DVA if you’ve ever had, or currently suffer from a medical condition that may affect your driving.

More useful links