Changes from June 2015 in GB to the paper counterpart of driving licences do not affect licences issued by the Driver & Vehicle Agency. 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.
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:
- Lay Magistrate or Justice of the Peace
- minister of religion
- professionally qualified person - for example an engineer, lawyer, teacher
- 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 form
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 Offices or test centres. You’ll also need to include a new passport type certified photograph.
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.
If you do not receive your licence
If your driving licence has not been delivered within four 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
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.
You must tell the DVA if you’ve ever had, or currently suffer from a medical condition that may affect your driving.