Coronavirus: Over 70s face licence renewal confusion

Published 01 May 2020

Thousands of drivers risk being fined £1000 or having their licence revoked because of problems with the DVLA licence renewal system.

Desperate motorists have accused the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of ignoring their pleas for help, as many face the stark choice of using their car for essential journeys without a valid licence or staying at home and relying on friends and family for food and medicine.

The problem is likely to affect the over-70s the most, with many telling HonestJohn.co.uk via Ask HJ they are unable to renew their licence or obtain any help from the DVLA. 

If you’re over 70 you must renew your driving licence every three years. If you have certain medical conditions - like glaucoma - you must meet the minimum eyesight requirement to renew your licence, which often requires an eye test. However, HonestJohn.co.uk has received reports that many are unable to get the required field of vision test due to opticians being closed under the coronavirus lockdown.

Drivers are also legally required to renew their photocard driving licence every 10 years, but vulnerable motorists have told HonestJohn.co.uk that they are unable to get the required passport photo for the renewal because they are self-isolating. 

The DVLA website states that its newly-reduced opening hours of the call centre are Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. However, it further notes, "Please only contact DVLA if your query is urgent and you are directly involved in the nation’s response as a Key Worker to COVID-19. Our staff will not be able to respond to other queries at this time."

The DVLA website states: "It is taking longer than usual to process driving licence applications because of coronavirus (COVID-19)."

Readers have told HonestJohn.co.uk that they are unable to contact the DVLA or get any reply to emails. Many are now fearful that their licences will soon be invalid or revoked. 

HonestJohn.co.uk has contacted the DVLA for comment.

Comments

conman    on 4 May 2020

If the government can consider releasing prisoners early, extend MOT's for 6 months . Surely someone who has common sense can extend 70 + licences for a further 6 month's, highlighting the point if you would fail the medical test and found to have caused an accident or offence you will be prosecuted.

   on 4 May 2020

Only in the UK would you get this sort of bureaucracy, by living in Spain, one gets 5 year licence for over 70's, then every 5 years. Simple.

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

Only in the UK would you get this sort of bureaucracy, by living in Spain, one gets 5 year licence for over 70's, then every 5 years. Simple.

Are you still in Spain?

If you came Home to take advantage of the NHS then you must live by the Laws in the UK.

Acrorat    on 4 May 2020

A few months ago the DVLA sent a licence renewal letter to my late husband [who died 15 years ago] but did not send one to me [I am 10 days younger than him].

I did try to renew my licence at that time, but wasn't allowed as it was apparently too soon.

I will be 70 in July, so do I try to renew again, given that my licence is a paper one, and I can't get a photo or an eye test?

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

A few months ago the DVLA sent a licence renewal letter to my late husband [who died 15 years ago] but did not send one to me [I am 10 days younger than him]. I did try to renew my licence at that time, but wasn't allowed as it was apparently too soon. I will be 70 in July, so do I try to renew again, given that my licence is a paper one, and I can't get a photo or an eye test?

Please see Otter Valley.

Maxonian    on 4 May 2020

Mine is waiting for Doctor and Specialist reports from people who at present have better and more important things to do.

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

Mine is waiting for Doctor and Specialist reports from people who at present have better and more important things to do.

As the cases of C19 come down (as they are). It is worth checking in to ask if they are reopening the Clinics.

I do know that some Clinics around this NHS Trust are reopening.

Lucha    on 4 May 2020

I have had to apply for a new licence, as I am 70. I sent all my documents in, along with my application form and photo etc.
This was sent off on the 12th of March and I'm still waiting!

I realise after reading this article that there is a delay, because of the Covid-19 lockdown but I would have thought that, at least I would have got some acknowledgement from them.

Does anyone have any idea, what should be my next move, or to just wait and see?

Thanks
Carol

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

You did everything you were supposed to and IN GOOD FAITH!

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

See Otter Valley, very encouraging!

Also it is always worth keeping Photocopies of your Licence incase you have to send it back.

I know it isn't Legally binding but it shows that you "Acted in all good faith"!

conman    on 12 May 2020

read Road traffic Act 1988 section 88.

you can carry on driving if you have made an application to the DVLA and are waiting for the licence.

David Finch    on 4 May 2020

Just going through this thread. Attached to the Honest John site a scam ad came up to obtain a driving license without a test . Language and punctuation is poor so it is definitely a scam.
Honest John s people ought to look into this a bit sharp.

hissingsid    on 5 May 2020

Just going through this thread. Attached to the Honest John site a scam ad came up to obtain a driving license without a test . Language and punctuation is poor so it is definitely a scam. Honest John s people ought to look into this a bit sharp.

When I logged onto this site a few days ago, my internet security provider flashed up this red warning on the home page "We tested this page and blocked content that comes from potentially dangerous or suspicious sites". I immediately reported this to HJ but have received no response.

Palcouk    on 11 May 2020

Nothing to do with HJ, its your browser and the lack of ad protection

otter valley    on 5 May 2020

Hello,

I have just renewed my driving licence with my 70th birthday looming in two weeks time. I can say that I got warnings about delays due to staff shortage caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.

The driving licence is valid for three years and I must renew again. I had declared Cataracts and was told about the need to watch this viz driving and given the medical stuff about this from DVLA.

As to delays DVLA has said that people can carry on driving and if stopped say that the DVLA are considering their renewal. Cannot give you the link to that but it was in one of their recent bulletins

From an email there was a DVLA contact number given: 0300 790 6801
It is there contact centre number I believe.

Regards
Brian

Lancashireguy    on 5 May 2020

I had to renew my photocard licence in December 2019, DVLA did everything it could to make it difficult, even as far as telling me I was disqualified when I wasn't, trying to charge me £65 rather than the £14 it should be, in the end it cost me £900 + Vat for a firm of solicitors to sort it out and get my licence renewed

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

If the government can consider releasing prisoners early, extend MOT's for 6 months . Surely someone who has common sense can extend 70 + licences for a further 6 month's, highlighting the point if you would fail the medical test and found to have caused an accident or offence you will be prosecuted.

See Otter Valley!

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

If the government can consider releasing prisoners early, extend MOT's for 6 months . Surely someone who has common sense can extend 70 + licences for a further 6 month's, highlighting the point if you would fail the medical test and found to have caused an accident or offence you will be prosecuted.

See Otter Valley!

VINCENT MILLARD    on 5 May 2020

See the remarks from " Otter Valley".
They should make you feel better.
And always keep records of your Licence.

amn    on 5 May 2020

common sense I am afraid is not encouraged in government rules are rules and if I follow them I will not get into trouble

Tom Scott    on 5 May 2020

My wife needs her first 70+ license with groups C1 & D1 so she can continue to drive her 7.5 tonne horsebox. Without an eye test and medical assessment she will loose these entitlements. Her license renews in June. The 1 year extension announced earlier by the DVLA does not apply to "implied entitlements". We wait patiently to see what happens.

grumpyguv    on 6 May 2020

i am facing the same problem,cannot find any information as what we are supposed to do,carry on driving without a licence ? or lose our licence because we cant renew it which isn`t our fault.

grumpyguv    on 23 May 2020

my licence runs out in june when i reach 70yrs old, just filled out online application when you get nearly to end of application it says my expiry date is march 2022,not sure if this a mistake or its because i have c1 and d1 licence and need medical to renew which cannot get because of covid 19,no mention of this on dvla website only for under 70yr olds. anybody had same experience.

Dr David Rose    on 5 May 2020

Don't know if this is relevant at present but :-

Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 may allow you to continue driving even though you do not hold a current driving licence.
In practice, this will be when you have applied to the DVLA to renew your licence, but the licence expires (runs out) while we are processing the application.

Copied this from the relevant literature

   on 6 May 2020

Once you have applied for a renewal you allowed to drive under section 88 of the road traffic act 1988

dmo    on 6 May 2020

There are plenty of internet services that you can upload a digitial photo to and they will post out suitable passport/driving licence photos to you, the last time I used this service it cost less than £5.

ianbar    on 12 May 2020

I am coming up to 70 and applied for my licence online on 5 May. I received it on 11 May, and it probably would have arrived earlier if it were not for the postal delays over the Bank Holiday.

Wayne Burnett    on 14 May 2020

As noted by other contributors. Application is in with DVLA but no means to check status. My license has now expired so am wondering where that leaves me. I have 'Grandfather' rights vis-a-vis CI and D1 entitlements. HGV and bus drivers have had their licenses extended I believe but this does not apply as far as I know to first time renewal requiring a medical. In anticipation that any medical appointment would be cancelled, which it was, I submitted my renewal without the C1 and D1 entitlement. As has been said, it would seem sensible to simply issue an extension for renewal at 70, which only requires a self declaration as to ones health.

grumpyguv    on 23 May 2020

hi,see my message from grumpy guv

retiredspeedmerchant    on 14 May 2020

DVLA Licencing is a nightmare. Try having a HGV licence and a notifyable health condition. A former work colleague has to renew his every 3 years. He waited 2 of the last 3 years for DVLA doctors to process it. He has to start the rigmarole again later this year. He couldn't work as insurance companies and employers will not recognise the letter of authority sent by DVLA.
At least mine was simple. Straightforward revocation and came back within a month.

Stephanie Russell    on 15 May 2020

I'm so pleased and relieved to know I'm not the only one in this position as I've literally been losing sleep over renewing my licence ahead of my 70th birthday. From where I live it's a 3 mile circular walk to my GP, pharmacy, Co-op and other amenities. I thought it was best to write to DVLA using the address given, enquiring especially if I was likely to need a new picture and the difficulty of getting one. Now I understand this office isn't currently being manned.

conman    on 16 May 2020

Hi Stephanie contact your MP the more complaints the faster the situation is resolved, as was in my case. Over 70's should be treated as a urgent case.

Stephanie Russell    on 21 May 2020

I did as you suggested and contacted my MP. I got quite a speedy reply from one of her staff team who has forwarded my concerns to DVLA although she admitted they tend to take rather a long time to reply. In the meantime the countdown to my 70th birthday begins . . .

grumpyguv    on 23 May 2020

hi stephanie have a look at my previous message, not sure if it helps

grumpyguv

Lesley Worstencroft    on 27 May 2020

I have checked my husband's Over 70 licence renewal application status on the DVLA site but it still says, "Awaiting application return form" This is in spite of sending the form AND then a second one with covering letter just in case the first was lost. Application was made on 20 March, and there is no way to contact them.

   on 28 May 2020

Michael Wilkinson

Yes, exactly the same for me. I get to the end of the online application to renew for my 73rd birthday, to be told that my driving licence and passport are invalid. Not true in either case. You can't contact the DVLA by phone or email unless you are a Key Worker, which I guess few over 70s are. The DVLA are not processing paper applications. All camera shops and photo booths are closed during the pandemic anyway, so you have great difficulty obtaining a photo. All Grant Shapps /DVLA need to do is defer the renewal date by 12 months (on the grounds that people can remember their birthdays). Just needs one line on the DVLA website. No cost to the Government. Done! How hard can it be?

Covey    on 5 June 2020

The DVLA change to renewals announced on 4th June is pure bunkum! It has nothing to do with helping the licence holders, but covering up for the fact that DVLA cannot process renewals fast enough to keep up.

The "over 70 C1 licence holders" are in a hole. You cannot talk to DVLA and they state that we should not send written applications, yet the application process to retain the C1 requires sending an application form, multi page medical report, and the Specsavers eye sight test form. You cannot use the online renewal process because it automatically removes C1 + D1 from your licence leaving you with a basic car licence.

NickNike    on 8 June 2020

I just received my over 70s licence, 8th June, having applied on line on the 4th June and have a current passport so the necessary details were copied digitally from the Passport office. I'm not moaning.
They allow application 90 days before the 70th birthday (mine was 89 days before to give plenty of time) and I read months agom they were not processing anything posted to them.
I appreciate there are some applications where the post is necessay, but if it is a straight forward application like mine, yiou should have no problems applying on-line.

Margaret Mowbray    on 12 June 2020

My husband applied in April, to renew his licence as he will be 70 on 16th June,(, by post as he does not have a passport or photo driving licence) he has not heard anything since, cannot contact DVLA, leaflet states you can drive while they deal with your application, but the Police say it would be illegal for him to drive. Who do we believe?

Dougal McGuire    on 18 June 2020

I hope this may bring some relief for those still waiting. A family member applied via post on the 20th March using recorded delivery. This was prior to the advice of using the online application only. Even with the situation, concern was obvious due to no contact available with DVLA and no absolute information available. I am pleased to say that her licence was received on the 15th June, so it does appear that previous postal applications are finally in the process box... Good luck to all.

Edited by Dougal McGuire on 18/06/2020 at 19:57

Bob higgins    on 26 June 2020

I'll be 76 in July , couldn't renew online as I don't have a passport...(even though I always have in the past)..I posted a D1 form with a new photo, wasn't sure if it was needed, but I enclosed a cheque for £17 also for the new photo...I never received a licence reminder either..they received it on the 15th of June as I sent it tracked and signed for special delivery...let's hope I get it back eventually..

   on 1 July 2020

As i'm shielding until end of July, i'm unable to go out.

My driving licence expires on 26th July, so unable to pop into photo booth.

Would it be ok to sort out a new driving licence photo at the beginning of August?

Roland Hartley    on 7 July 2020

Roland Hartley
I submitted my old paper licence on the 28th April ,to notify the DVLA about changing
my address . i have since turned 70 so presumably i would have to submit the photo
card licence to update this , however i have seen or heard nothing since i posted off my old paper licence back in April . i have been on the contact page for the DVLA
and received a reply (unfortunately unable to help). The telephone contact is a recorded message ,which i guess ,the situation will remain the same until furlough ends at the end of October, that will be over 6 months from my initial application
I will be going abroad in the not to distant future , and will be unable to hire a car without a valid driving licence.According to the DVLA website i could be fined for, not having the correct address, having an out of date licence ,and not having the over 70s licence, frustrated and annoyed are not really strong enough words.1
Do i carry on driving or not !

Bob higgins    on 8 July 2020

When my licence runs out I'll continue to drive...it was sent in good faith..apparently dvla have got a reduced workforce so they're not all furloughed...there are thousands of us in the same situation...and surely what they are doing is illegal...I have emailed my local MP..who have emailed dvla who are yet to respond...


Acrorat    on 10 July 2020

When my licence runs out I'll continue to drive...it was sent in good faith..apparently dvla have got a reduced workforce so they're not all furloughed...there are thousands of us in the same situation...and surely what they are doing is illegal...I have emailed my local MP..who have emailed dvla who are yet to respond...

I am in the same position, having applied online to renew my paper licence, since DVLA didn't send me a renewal advice [though they managed to send one to my dead husband]. Trying to apply online was initially refused as being too early, trying a month or so later and the online site was down [for how long I really don't know].

When eventually the online site became live again, this overlapped with my Passport renewal, hence my ID couldn't be confirmed [DVLA didn't explain this at all, I had to guess]. Two weeks later I received a form requiring birth certificate, marriage licence and photo etc.

I then got on the webchat and explained that I had given Passport Office a 'selfie photo' which was acceptable to them. DVLA however refused this! They also refused a photo that my neighbour [a professional self-employed photographer] offered to take!

DVLA insisted I go to a photobooth [none accessible to me, and going into town, where the chance of contracting Covid-19 was large, to search for one wasn't an option I wanted to risk]. Meanwhile my neighbour rang round some photographer colleagues and found one company that had just re-opened, so I went to them.

In the four hour gap between getting the photo taken and it being developed, I returned home and ransacked the house hunting for the required certificates. Then getting the photos, form filled in, neighbour did the necessary with photo and declaration, and mailed it all off, including a return envelope postage paid, on 16 June.

Tracking on the DVLA website states awaiting forms, which is a blatant lie, as they have had everything they demanded since 17 June.

DVLA also told me I could not drive from July 1, as I was renewing a paper licence!!!!

Serves me right for not moving house, re-marrying and getting a photocard licence [irony/sarcasm].

Suffice to say I am now totally housebound and unable to continue to volunteer at two museums that will be opening in a fortnight, as neither are accessible without a car!

I have e-mailed The Minister of Transport, tweeted him and messaged on his FaceBook page - no response, no surprise.

Given that DVLA are keeping all of us 'in a black hole' licence renewers off the road, are we then entitled to a) a refund on our VED and b) a refund on our car insurance from the date our licences became extinct?

Bob higgins    on 10 July 2020

It's getting beyond a joke now...I got an email from the house of commons, dvla are ignoring them as well...I've emailed a solicitor to see if they can help in any way, no reply from them either...dvla didn't ignore the money they received from me last week ,to road tax my car and motorcycle though...I've been on the road since 1961,and am an avid motorcyclist and they're not taking that away from me...I've just received a new bank card,presumably the banks are short staffed too,but they manage it..I just hope that section 88 of the road traffic act applies as I'm going to continue to drive and ride..

Sue Clark    on 9 July 2020

I've been trying to renew my expired driving licence online (postal applications not being accepted) for several weeks. After filling in the form, many times, my application is refused. Trying to contact the helpline is impossible. What do I do now? Will I automatically be reminded when the 7 month extension expires? Should I keep on trying online in the meantime?

   on 14 July 2020

It is clear that the DVLA is no longer "Fit for Purpose". I urge everyone to write to their MP pointing this out. Hopefully then it will come to the attention of Government and something will happen. It is ridiculous that while the rest of the country is getting back to normal that an organisation the size of the DVLA is still acting as if it is the very start of the pandemic.

maltaman    on 14 July 2020

Hi Everyone,
I've been trying to renew my License via DVLA website as I turn 70 in cple months time.

After about the 3rd page of questions .. I get the msg ' You are not eligible for this service ' ..It's impossible to contact DVLA by phone ..

Anyone else have this problem ?

I read somewhere that one can not renew online if one has a Paper Licence ( like myself ) , it must be done via post .. Can anyone confirm ?

Has anyone sent in a postal application recently ? how long did it take ?

tnx

Hilary Webster    on 14 July 2020

I wanted to renew my over 70 license which expired at the end of June and found on DVLA website a notice saying current licenses will be valid for a further 7 months and that you will be notified nearer to that time about renewing.

Bob higgins    on 14 July 2020

The 7 month extension doesn't apply to the over 70's as they have to apply every 3yrs,..(I wish it did.).something has got to be done about dvla,they have literally took thousands of us off the road through no fault of our own..

Bob higgins    on 16 July 2020

Good news..
Having sent in a paper application for renewal of my over 70 driving licence, and emailing my MP about concerns of dvla not dealing with anything..my MP rang dvla and dvla have been in touch with me..they are dealing with the backlog,and more staff are back at work at dvla..they are dealing with May at the moment and are slowly catching up...I have been assured that section 88 of the road traffic act applies to me...and I can continue driving etc until my application is being dealt with...hopefully this will give some relief to all of you who are still waiting for your licences..

Joan Reeve    on 23 July 2020

My licence was not renewed and DVLA wrote and told me that medical enquiries and info showed that I do not meet the visual acuity standards and cannot read a number plate from 20 metres.My last eye test was normal so there must be a mistake but it will probably take a long time to rectify.

Glinda asprey    on 27 July 2020

Hi I am 73 years old, my driving licence ran out, 11thfeb iv filled out the application new photo sent back my photo licence still waiting, the extension runs out 1st August, what then do I do, I may have to take dvla to court and claim copansation

Bob higgins    on 28 July 2020

The 7 month extension doesn't apply to the over 70's, if you applied for your new licence before it ran out you're covered by section 88 of the road traffic act..my MP contacted dvla on my behalf and I thought I was making some headway, but alas not..my licence expired last week..I sent in an application (tracked)on the 12th june,included a cheque for £17 fee for a new photo,plus my old photo card licence..I contacted the complaints dept of dvla,and they told me to apply again and send the application directly to them..I was given a reference number..(again tracked)..I rang them yesterday to see if they received it( I know they have,as I've a signature to prove they have)..they said the reference number doesn't exist..I have literally tried everything to get my licence back...my next course of action is to get a solicitor to see if that works..dvla are not fit for purpose, and will say anything to fob you off...only one consolation, you're not on your own...there are thousands of us in the same situation..

Acrorat    on 1 August 2020

I did get my renewed 70s licence three weeks after it ran out on 31 June, having tried to renew it since April. That said, 'too little, too late' is the polite way of describing this:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53617620

Michael Chant    on 24 August 2020

May I add my frustration to all the others? Applied by post on May 28th (it's now August 24th) - a month before my 70th Birthday - and included the old cut-up old licence. Impossible to contact DVLA via email or telephone, and as it's (necessarily) a postal application, I have no reference number with which I can check progress online.

I continue to drive, assuming the '7 month' rule applies, but the appalling lack of contact is a national disgrace. I, like others, am very frustrated and worried that the application may not be 'in the system'.

Do we need some kind of national media coverage to alert the government to this problem.

FRANKIE DEARDEN    on 23 January 2021

What chance do I have for renewing my driving licence any time soon?
I have just turned 73, and am abroad until 29th March.I have not driven for a couple of months and realised that my current licence had expired on the day before my birthday last month..
So, I thought, go online and renew it that way, as i certainly didn't get any reminder from DVLA 3 months prior to it expiring. However, having read the posts from so many people trying to renew their licence, without much success, I am filled with trepidation about the success rate. What on earth is happening (or NOT happening, as the case may be) at DVLA?.
As some people have already pointed out, The Vehicle Excise Duty section at DVLA are fast enough to take your money when the TAX is due on your vehicle. Covid is still the same for whichever department of DVLA we have to deal with.
This is a fiasco, and needs sorting out.Other businesses are managing to cope with their customers' needs without this level of incompetence.

Grant Shapps needs to get a grip, preferably on the top management's necks at DVLA, , and call them to account.

JUST GET IT SORTED

   on 23 February 2021

I applied, on 4th December 2020, to renew my licence. I very quickly got an eye test with Specsavers on December 17th. My licence expired 8th February 2021 and I still haven't had a renewal. I live in a remote area of Norfolk where it is 25 miles to one hospital and 15 miles to the other and my doctors surgery (when it re-opens since closing due to Covid in March last year) so being able to drive is imperative. I know that I passed the eye test and my hospital doctor told me that he is perfectly happy for me to drive as I keep myself fit and well. I have sent a few emails which were never responded to so I phoned half a dozen times before finding a number that would let me wait to be spoken to. After 50 minutes waiting I got a very rude young fellow with a very strong Welsh accent and spoke so fast that I couldn't get a word in. All I was able to pick up was that due to Covid etc. etc. there is a delay and yes they had received my eye test result and it was fine. He just referred me to INF188/6 which is Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act. Then he hung up on me. I won't go into that particular Section as it is there for all to peruse. However, when checking today, 23rd February, my licence states that I have no entitlement as it has expired. I then checked with my Insurance Company who told me that they will only cover me until my present insurance expires end of June. After that I will not be covered until I receive a new licence. The whole situation has become a fiasco. I know that I am not the only one but it begs the question, are they hoping that we will all die before they have to give us our licences?

   on 23 February 2021

I applied, on 4th December 2020, to renew my licence. I very quickly got an eye test with Specsavers on December 17th. My licence expired 8th February 2021 and I still haven't had a renewal. I live in a remote area of Norfolk where it is 25 miles to one hospital and 15 miles to the other and my doctors surgery (when it re-opens since closing due to Covid in March last year) so being able to drive is imperative. I know that I passed the eye test and my hospital doctor told me that he is perfectly happy for me to drive as I keep myself fit and well. I have sent a few emails which were never responded to so I phoned half a dozen times before finding a number that would let me wait to be spoken to. After 50 minutes waiting I got a very rude young fellow with a very strong Welsh accent and spoke so fast that I couldn't get a word in. All I was able to pick up was that due to Covid etc. etc. there is a delay and yes they had received my eye test result and it was fine. He just referred me to INF188/6 which is Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act. Then he hung up on me. I won't go into that particular Section as it is there for all to peruse. However, when checking today, 23rd February, my licence states that I have no entitlement as it has expired. I then checked with my Insurance Company who told me that they will only cover me until my present insurance expires end of June. After that I will not be covered until I receive a new licence. The whole situation has become a fiasco. I know that I am not the only one but it begs the question, are they hoping that we will all die before they have to give us our licences?

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