Make sure your licence is up to date – or it could be a costly mistake

Driving Offence Advice

Most motorists aren’t aware that driving licences have an expiry date on them, which means an estimated 2.2 million drivers are actually in possession of an out of date licence.

For people with a photocard driving licence (which is most people nowadays), you’ll notice that each of the different lines of information is labelled with a different code, and the one you are looking for is code ‘4b’, which is in the middle of the front of the card, to the right of the photo. The 4b date lets you know how long your licence is in date for so you know and it needs to be renewed.

Since photocard driving licences were introduced in replace of the paper ones in 1998, they have had a 10-year expiry date on the card. Once the licence expires you are obliged to apply for a renewal and to update the photograph.

You’ll get a reminder in the post

If a brown envelope arrives from the DVLA this is usually something that is opened with trepidation and the worry of a speeding fine, but not all news from the DVLA is bad news. If you’re getting close to the expiry on your driving licences then the DVLA will write to you to bring this to your attention.

If you’ve recently moved to a new house, or for students who have perhaps been living away from home or have had multiple university or college addresses, it’s very important that the DVLA have your up to date address details. Not only are you legally obliged to keep this information up to date (and can face a fine for this too), if your reminder is sent to an out of date address then you risk missing the heads up that your licence is due to expire.

If you are stopped by the police and you present an out of date driving licence, then the fine is hefty. You could be fined as much as £1,000. The same fine can apply if your address is outdated or if you haven’t updated your name following a legal name change such as marriage or divorce.

Although you have to pay a small sum to have the photograph updated there is no fee to update your address.

Five minutes is all it takes

Next time you put the kettle on to have a cup of tea, check your driving licence while the water is boiling. That quick task will do one of two things. It will either reassure you that you’re still in date and have nothing to worry about for the time being, or it will be the push you need to get your licence renewed. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy your tea with the peace of mind that you’ve ticked one more job off your to-do list.