Renew your driving licence

Your ordinary driving licence entitlement will expire every 10 years, unless your driving licence has been medically restricted. There are also exceptions for drivers over 60, and for drivers with lorry and bus entitlements. Find out about these exceptions and how to renew you licence on this page.

DVA is experiencing delays in processing driver licence applications.
 If you have sent in a valid application before your current licence expires you can continue to drive and in that case you should not need to contact  DVA to check progress.
To help make sure your application is valid, here is a checklist
The DVA is experiencing a high number of calls and incoming emails and so applicants may have difficulty making contact with the DVA.
A number of steps have been taken to improve processing times and deal with the backlog including employing extra staff.
DVA apologises for any inconvenience.

Changes made to the format of the Great Britain driving licences effective from 8 June 2015 have no effect on licences issued by the Driver & Vehicle Agency in NI. Northern Ireland licences continue to be composed of two parts, a 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 DVA when you change address.

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 colour photograph
  • send it to DVA Driver Licensing

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.

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

Renewing without a DL1R form

The DVA issue the reminders as a courtesy and are not obliged to let a driver know that their licence is due to expire. If, for any reason, you don’t receive the reminder application form, you can use the DL1 Driving Licence Application form. This form is available from Post Offices or MOT test centres. You’ll also need to include a new passport type certified photograph.

Following the introduction of a new IT system at the end of November 2016, there were delays in issuing reminders to customers within the normal two month window.  Those issues have now been resolved and to date DVA have issued reminders to customers whose licences were due to expire during March and April 2017 and are currently working on a schedule to issue reminders to customers whose licence will expire in May and June 2017.  From May, the reminder process will go back to the normal two month notice period.

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 Royal Mail Special delivery envelope.

Please note - DVA will not provide compensation for any loss or delay resulting from the use of second class post.

DVA cannot guarantee to return your documents by a specified date, for example, a holiday.

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 due to the current backlog. In addition, this may take longer 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 you can make an application for a replacement at any time. 

Driving on holiday?

Thinking about going on holiday and hiring a car? If so, check that your driving licence will be valid well before you are due to travel.

If you do not receive your licence

If your driving licence has not been delivered after six weeks you should contact DVA Driver Licensing.

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

Exceptions

Drivers over 60

Drivers over 60 whose licences expire before their 70th birthday, will be issued a licence valid until age 70 or for a period of three years, whichever is the longer. A fee applies, even if the period granted is for the minimum of three years. 

Lorry and bus entitlement

If you drive a lorry or a bus, your entitlement to these categories will be valid for a maximum of five years, up to age 65. At age 65 and over, the maximum is one year.

Medical conditions

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

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