Driving licence application DL1 - guidance notes
These notes are designed to help you fill in the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) form DL1 (driving licence application form). You should read all these notes carefully when filling in the DL1 form.
When you apply for a provisional driving licence for a car, motorcycle or moped, you need to fill in a DL1 application form which is available from main Post Office branches or directly from DVA by calling the number at the link below.
For more information visit:
General information for DL1 application form
These notes contain important information about applications for Northern Ireland driving licences.
You should only use form DL1 for making applications for ordinary driving licences (such as for cars, motorcycles and tractors) but you cannot use it to apply for licences to drive goods vehicles or passenger-carrying vehicles, or to apply for a taxi drivers’ licence.
You should read the notes carefully before filling in the application form. The notes are meant to be a comprehensive guide, but they do not set out all of the licensing laws that apply.
Licence costs and how you pay
Information on what the driving licence fees are can be found on at: The cost of a driving licence or you can call the DVA driver licensing telephone line.
You should not send cash or blank cheques. DVA will not accept responsibility if they go missing. Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to DVA and crossed “A/ C PAYEE”.
You should write your name, address and date of birth (and driver number if you know it) on the reverse of the cheque or postal order.
Some things to note:
- DVA will only accept a maximum of two payment types for each application
- DVA will accept shared payment for a maximum of five applications made at the same time
- DVA will not accept a shared payment of £1,000 or more
Posting your application
You need to make sure that each section of your form is fully filled in and return it to DVA Driver Licensing at the address in the link below.
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, you need to send a suitable pre-paid Royal Mail special delivery envelope. DVA will not give compensation for any loss or delay resulting from the use of second-class post.
Filling in the DL1 application form
Note one - section one A
If you already hold a Northern Ireland driving licence and you know your driver number (shown on the paper counterpart or at section five of the licence photocard) you need to fill in section one A.
Note two - section one B
You may need to give proof of your identity.
For details see, note four - section one C, section one D.
Note three - section one B
DVA can only give driving licences to you if you live at an address in Northern Ireland.
Telephone number and email address
Giving DVA a daytime telephone number and/ or email address will help DVA contact you quickly if it needs any more information to fill in your application.
If you have not already done so, you need to choose a codeword which is both secure and memorable. You are asked to give this as a security measure. Before discussing your driver details over the telephone DVA will ask for this information to avoid giving details about you to any unauthorised caller.
Note four - section one C, section one D
Confirm your identity
If this is your first application or if your last licence was issued before 1 April 1999, you need to give proof of your identity. There can be no exceptions.
Once you have given proof of identity, you will not normally need to give it to DVA again in the future, but you will need to give documentary evidence of your identity if:
• you change your name (for example, through marriage/ civil partnership)
• your appearance has changed significantly
You can find more information about identity documents and photographs at:
Photographs that do not meet the published criteria, or are of poor quality, will be rejected.
What you must do
If this is your first application, or you have not been issued with a Northern Ireland licence since 1 April 1999, your application must be sent with both these documents:
- a colour, passport size photograph
- original documents as proof of your identity
If you have been issued with a new style photocard licence at any time after 1 April 1999, your application must be sent with both these documents:
- a colour, passport size photograph - if you are applying for a duplicate licence or change of name/ address without renewal, a photograph is not normally needed
- suitable proof of your identity but only if your name has changed since your last licence
If you change your name
If you change your name, you must surrender your licence and apply for a new licence straight away. It is an offence not to do so.
You must give documentary evidence of the change of name; for example, passport in the name by which you are now known or birth and marriage/ civil partnership certificate.
The evidence you give must show a clear link between the name on your identity document and your current name. Photocopies of the documentary evidence are unacceptable.
Your last licence must be sent with the application.
If you have lost either part, you will need to apply for a duplicate or you can choose to renew your licence and forward the right fee.
Note five - section one E
If you change address within Northern Ireland, you must surrender your licence and apply for a new licence straight away using the Driving licence application DL1 form. It is an offence not to do so. Your address must be in Northern Ireland.
Note six – section two
Your driving licence
This section allows you to tell DVA which type of licence you want.
Note seven – section two A
First provisional licence
You need a provisional licence while learning to drive a car or ride a moped or motorcycle.
You may apply for your provisional car licence two months before your seventeenth birthday, but you must not drive until it comes into effect. You may apply for a tractor or moped licence at age 16. If you apply for a first provisional licence for tractors/ mopeds at 16 you will automatically be given provisional entitlement for a car (given the necessary health standards are met and you are not disqualified from driving at the time).
You must not drive a car until the car entitlement comes into effect. If you are aged 16 and getting Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate and want to drive a car, you need to give your National Insurance Number.
A provisional licence will give you entitlement to learn to drive motorcycles in category A, A2, A1 or AM. You can find details of age rules and what these categories entitle you to at:
Note eight – section two B
Changing a provisional licence to a first full licence
You must surrender your NI or GB provisional licence and test pass certificate. DVA will accept NI, GB and Gibraltar test pass certificates but cannot accept test pass certificates from any other country.
Adding another category to a full licence
If you already have a full licence and wish to add another category after passing a test for that category, you must surrender your existing licence and test pass certificate.
If your current licence was issued more than five years ago, your application must be sent with a colour passport size photograph.
Note nine – section two C
When your existing driving licence is due to expire, DVA will send you a reminder notice that will detail how to renew your licence. DVA can only accept expiry renewal applications for Group 1 (car/ motorcycle) licences if they are received no more than two months before the existing licence is due to expire.
You can apply to renew your Group 1 licence online at:
You can also use form DL1 to renew your licence if you have not received a reminder or you do not want to renew online. The provision of an expiry renewal reminder is a complimentary service. It is the licence holders’ responsibility to make sure that their licence is up-to-date and that a renewal application is made in time.
Over 70 renewal/ medical renewal
If you passed your test before 1 January 1997, you may have been given extra entitlement to drive medium-sized goods vehicles and minibuses (under certain restrictions). These are C1 and C1E (8.25 tonnes), D1 (not for hire or reward) and D1E (not for hire or reward).
If you are renewing your licence at age 70 or over or renewing a medically restricted licence and you wish to keep your entitlement to drive medium-sized goods vehicles and/ or minibuses, you must be able to meet the higher health standards that apply to drivers of lorries and buses. There is an exception with eyesight standards which is the same as for car drivers.
You need to send a filled in Medical Examination Report (form DLM1) if you wish to keep either of these entitlements.
Note ten – section two D
Change of name and/ or address
You need to fill in sections one D and/ or one E (see notes four and five above) if you have changed your name and/ or address.
Remove expired endorsements
Endorsements will normally stay on a licence for four years from the offence date. If you were disqualified until passing a further driving test, the four year period begins from the date of conviction.
If you were disqualified for certain alcohol-related motoring offences, endorsements will stay on your licence for eleven years from the date of conviction.
You must surrender any existing licence you have and include the right fee and a new colour photograph.
A duplicate licence is issued to replace a valid licence that has been lost, stolen or destroyed. The duplicate will be an exact copy of the original licence, including any relevant endorsements and will be valid to the same expiry date as before.
The issue date, shown at section four A on the front of the licence photocard, will however, be different.
Surrender of licences
You must surrender your old licence and counterpart if you still have it. You must fill in the declaration in this section giving the reason why you need to replace your licence. Once a licence has been formally reported as lost, stolen or destroyed it will be cancelled by DVA.
You cannot legally use a driving licence once it has been reported as lost or stolen and cancelled by DVA.
If you use a cancelled driving licence it may result in you being detained by the police or other law enforcement bodies.
If you are aged 70 or over, or are under medical restriction, you will have to pay for a duplicate licence, even if your renewal licence is issued free of charge.
If you choose to renew your licence it will allow you to replace an existing valid licence with a new ten year licence. You must surrender your existing licence and pay the right fee. An optional renewal licence will take effect from the date your application is processed and your last licence (which you must surrender) will be stopped. Any expired endorsements will be removed.
Note 11, section two E
Other Driving Licences
If you are applying for a Northern Ireland driving licence and you hold a licence issued outside Northern Ireland, you must tell DVA. In certain cases, you will be able to exchange your current licence for a Northern Ireland licence. Depending on the type of licence you hold, you may not be able to exchange all entitlements.
You can exchange a full current or expired GB licence for a full NI licence or get a full NI licence by producing a GB provisional licence, test pass certificate and an authenticated photograph.
If you cannot produce your GB licence or if it has expired, you must give DVA a Certificate of Entitlement available from DVLA, Swansea.
Note: DVA cannot exchange a GB provisional licence for a NI provisional licence.
European Economic Area (EEA) licences
You can apply to exchange your EEA licence for a NI licence at any time even if it has expired. However, if your EEA licence has expired, you must also include a Certificate of Entitlement from the authority which issued your licence.
You cannot get a full NI licence if you do not meet the relevant residency rules. You may be asked to give proof of residency. (See section six of the Driving Licence Application Form DL1 and note 18 below).
You can see a full list of EEA member states at:
If your EEA licence was issued in exchange for one issued in another country (see Non-exchangeable licences below), it may be valid here for only 12 months and you may not be able to exchange it for the same licence in NI.
You cannot hold more than one NI, GB or EEA Member State licence.
If you hold a full licence issued outside the EEA, you can use it here for one year if it stays valid, and you may be able to exchange it for a full Northern Ireland licence. These licences can only be exchanged for up to five years after coming to live here.
You can see a full list of the licences which can be exchanged at:
Or you can call the DVA driver licensing telephone line:
Applications for licence exchange should be made using the DVA form DL1.
You can exchange a full Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey car licence if it was valid within the last ten years.
You cannot exchange a licence from any other country but you can drive using your full foreign car licence for up to one year after you arrive in NI. If you wish to take a driving test, you will need to apply for a NI provisional licence and apply for the relevant driving tests.
Note 12, section two F
New licence after disqualification or revocation
Higher fees apply for all drivers who are applying for a new licence after disqualification ordered by a court in Northern Ireland, or where a licence has been revoked under legislation found at the link below.
If you have been disqualified until passing a further driving test, you may apply for a provisional licence but only after the period of disqualification has expired.
It is an offence to apply for, or get, a driving licence during a period of disqualification.
Note 13, section three
Everyone who applies for a Northern Ireland driving licence needs to meet the medical standards for fitness to drive and make a declaration about their health. See the medical questionnaire in section three of the Driving Licence Application Form DL1.
You must answer all questions in section three. If you suffer from any conditions mentioned in section three, you must name those conditions in the right spaces. You can find information on the relevant medical standards for fitness to drive at:
If you do not declare a medical condition, it may be an offence and could invalidate your driving licence and car insurance.
Note 14, section three A
It is an offence to drive when your eyesight is not up to the legal standard. If you need glasses or contact lenses to reach the eyesight standard, you must declare this on the application form and make sure you wear them each time you drive.
Note 15, section three B
Your health and medical history
You must declare and give details of any condition likely to affect your fitness as a driver.
This includes conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, heart complaints, multiple sclerosis, alcohol or drug misuse and/ or dependency and limb disability. These are only some examples.
If you declare that you suffer, or have suffered from, a medical condition, you getting a licence may be dependent on a medical recommendation from DVAs medical advisors. You should not normally drive until you receive the licence.
However, you may drive during medical investigations until a decision has been made about your new licence if:
- your doctor says you are fit to do so
- your last licence was medically cleared by DVA
- your condition has not deteriorated since your last application
- you have not developed any other medical condition that may affect your fitness to drive
You must tell DVA if you become aware that you are suffering from a medical condition which may affect your ability to drive, which you have not told DVA about before or which you have already told DVA about but has become more severe.
If you have been issued with a medically restricted licence (one, two or three years) and you wish to keep your entitlement to drive vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes and 16 passenger seat minibuses (not for hire or reward) you must be able to meet the higher health standards which apply to drivers of larger lorries and buses. See the section over 70 renewal/ medical renewal in note nine above.
You may need to ask your doctor to fill in a medical questionnaire and to give further medical evidence, or undergo medical assessment, before DVA can give you a driving licence.
Note 16, section four
You should give details of all convictions for motoring offences including those without disqualification. If you are applying for a licence after any disqualification a higher fee will apply.
You should record all conviction details. If necessary, use a separate sheet and attach it to the application form.
High Risk Offenders and disqualified drivers
A driver who falls into any of the following criteria when making application for a driving licence after disqualification may be considered a High Risk Offender (HRO):
- disqualified twice within a 10 year period for any drink/ drive offence
- disqualified for having too much alcohol in their body
- disqualified for failing without reasonable cause to give a specimen for analysis
All applicants who are regarded as High Risk Offenders will need to pay a higher fee for their licence and will need to undergo a medical assessment before their licence is given.
You can find details of driving licence fees, including the cost for the HRO medical at:
Note 17, section five
If you wish to register as an organ donor to help someone else after your death, you need to fill in the voluntary organ donor consent section on the application form.
By joining the register, you are giving your agreement for your organs and tissue to be used for transplantation to save or enhance the lives of others after your death. Since 10 October 1994, all driving licences record the holder’s agreement to be an organ donor and the NHS Organ Donor Register UK , Bristol, is told when you have given this agreement.
For more information about organ donation and transplantation go to: Organ Donation Northern Ireland
Or you can phone the NHS organ donation general enquiries line at: Contact - NHS Organ Donation
In spring 2023, the law will change to an opt-out system.
The new law will mean, if organ donation is a possibility after you die, it will be considered that you agree to being an organ donor unless you have registered a decision not to donate, or are in an excluded group.
If you do not wish to become an organ donor then you will need to opt out on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Note 18, section six
Confirmation of residency
To be issued with a Northern Ireland driving licence, you must be lawfully resident in the United Kingdom. If you need to leave to enter or stay in the UK, you must give proof of your current leave for example visa or residency permit.
If you are normally resident outside the United Kingdom and are studying in NI, you must give evidence of the course.
Note 19, section seven
The declaration must be signed and dated by you. Your signature will be reproduced on your new photocard driving licence. Sign the application form DL1 in black ink and make sure no part of your signature goes outside the box or the application will be rejected and returned to you.
Note 20, section eight
Certifying the photograph
You must have your photograph certified in line with the instructions below. However, if you are sending a valid UK or other EEA passport your photograph does not have to be certified unless your name/ appearance has changed.
If you are not sending a UK or other EEA passport with your application, your photograph must be signed and dated on the back by either an elected official (for example MLA, MP, MEP or local councillor), a justice of the peace, minister of religion, a professionally qualified person (for example engineer, lawyer or teacher) a bank official, established civil servant or someone of similar standing.
This person must have known you personally for at least two years and hold a NI driving licence which was issued after 1 April 1999. They must not be related to you in any way. They must also fill in section eight of the application form in full.
Police officers certifying photographs do not need to give NI driving licence number or home address but should give their police station address.
If you are unable to have your photograph certified by someone who has known you for two years you should contact the driver licensing customer enquiry unit for advice.
You can find more information on applying for your licence, including when to expect your licence and what to do if you do not receive your licence at:
Rules on driving while waiting for your licence
If you are applying for your first provisional category, you must not drive until you receive the licence showing the entitlement.
You must not drive any category of vehicle after the expiry of your licence (shown at section 4b on your photocard) until you have made a qualifying application.
Once DVA have received your qualifying application, the law allows you to drive for 12 months before the new licence is issued, if:
- you have held a GB or NI licence issued since 1976 or another exchangeable licence
- you are not disqualified from driving
- you have not been, and would not be refused a licence for medical reasons
- you keep to any special rules which may apply to the licence
- a medical practitioner has not advised you that you should refrain from driving
Address shown on your licence
The format of the address which will be printed on the licence is that recognised by the Post Office. It may differ from the address you give on the application form.
For more information see note five - section one E.