Differences between NI and GB licences
Changes made to the format of the Great Britain driving licences from 8 June 2015 have no affect on licences from the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. NI licences are still made up of two parts, a plastic photocard and paper part which is known as the paper counterpart.
Driving licences sent to applicants aged 70 years or over will normally be valid for up to three years. If you wish to continue driving, you must renew your licence.
There is no fee if your application is made no more than two months before the expiry of your present licence, or if you're applying to renew an expired licence. ('Expiry' and 'expired' means when the date at 4B on the plastic card part of your driving licence has passed.)
You'll get a renewal notice
About two months before your present licence expires, the DVA will send you a renewal notice called 'Application for renewal of a driving licence' (DL1R).
Apply early to get your new driving licence before your existing licence expires. Applications where the driver has declared a medical condition may take longer to process.
If you have sent in a valid application before your existing licence expires, you can continue to drive and in that case you should not need to contact the DVA to check progress.
Once you've got your renewal notice, you can apply to renew your car, motorcycle and tractor driving licence online at the link below. During the process you'll be asked to provide a digital photo of yourself. By following the digital photo guidelines at the link below, you'll avoid your application being delayed:
The benefit of renewing online is that you'll get your driving licence much sooner than if you renew by post.
Or, renew by post
You can renew your car, motorcycle and tractor driving licence by post.
You’ll need to:
- fill in the DL1R form
- return your photocard driving licence and paper counterpart
- if your name has changed since you received your last driving licence then send original identity documents to confirm this - such as your passport in the name by which you are known or birth and marriage/ civil partnership certificate or deed poll - a deed poll is a legal document that proves a change of name
- include a new passport type photograph - see the new rules below in the next section
- send it all to DVA Driver Licensing
New photo rules when you renew by post
The rules for printed passport type photographs have changed as follows:
- if your appearance has not changed since you got your last driving licence, you can send in a passport type photograph without certification which means without a signature from an authorised person
- but if your appearance has changed significantly since your last driving licence you will need to send in a passport type photograph that is certified, which means you must get an authorised person to sign the back of your photograph
Getting the photograph signed
Follow the link below to find out who can sign your photograph, this is under the heading 'Who can sign your photo':
Printed photograph guidelines
Guidelines for printed passport type photos that are posted together with the driving licence application form can be found at the link below:
Be alert to unofficial websites offering online driver licensing.
If you don't receive a renewal notice
The DVA send out reminders to renew your driving licence as a courtesy but are not required to let a driver know that their licence is due to expire.
If, for any reason, you don’t receive the renewal notice (DL1R) from the DVA, you can apply online at the link below:
- Renew your driving licence online
- or 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 photograph.
Renewing your C1 or D1 licence categories
If you wish to renew your C1 or D1 licence categories, you must enclose the 'medical examination report' (DLM1 form) completed by a doctor, in support of your application. This applies whether you previously held full, restricted or voluntary entitlement.
C1 and D1 licence categories explained:
DLM1 forms are available from MOT test centres or directly from the DVA by calling:
- phone: 0300 2007 861
Your doctor may charge you a fee for filling in the DLM1 medical report.
When to expect your licence
The DVA aims to process your licence within 10 working days of receiving a completed application. This may take longer if your health or personal details have to be checked. Allow at least four weeks for your driving licence to arrive before contacting the DVA.
If your driving licence has not arrived six weeks after you made your application, contact DVA Driver Licensing.
If you do not tell the DVA within eight weeks that your licence has not arrived, you must apply for a duplicate licence and pay the relevant fee.
Driving before new licence arrives
Once the DVA has received your valid application you can drive before you receive your new driving licence as long as you:
- have held a Northern Ireland or Great Britain licence issued since 1 January 1976 or another exchangeable licence - explained at the following links: GBR, Jersey, Guernsey, IOM, Gibraltar driving licences and Exchanging your foreign driving 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 follow the DVA 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
You must tell DVA if you’ve ever had, or presently suffer from, a medical condition that may affect your driving:
Deciding to stop driving
There’s no legal age at which you must stop driving. You can decide when to stop, as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that affect your driving. Find out how changes to your health can affect your driving and how to give up your licence at the link below: