DVLA confirms that some over-70s licence renewals cannot be done online

Published 23 April 2021

Some drivers will not be able to renew their over-70s driving licence online.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has confirmed to HonestJohn.co.uk that some drivers who are applying to renew their driving licence as they turn 70 will not be able to apply online. This leaves a postal application as the only option, with the DVLA saying it will take approximately six weeks to receive the new licence back.

Following numerous reports from HonestJohn.co.uk readers via Ask HJ that drivers aged over 70 were unable to renew their driving licence online — we investigated the issue.

The DVLA told us that the issue comes down to digital signatures. The DVLA requires a copy of the customer’s signature as part of their application, and in the vast majority of cases the DVLA can get this electronically from the Passport Office.

However, since late-January 2017, all British passports have been issued without a digital copy of the holder's signature. Drivers who have applied for a new passport since 2017 but have never held a digital signature on their passport before will be unable to apply for a licence renewal online.

If applicants previously had a digital signature on their passport before 2017, they can still apply to renew their diving licence online.

Licence Renewal

The hiccup means that anyone who is applying for a new driving licence as they turn 70 is unlikely to be able to renew online if they did not have a British passport before 2017.

The DVLA noted that it is aware of the issue and is currently working on a solution. With that said, it's likely to be a matter of months rather than weeks before it's resolved. The DVLA also says it will send drivers a reminder before their extension expires, when it’s time to renew.

If you drive on an expired licence you could be liable for a fine of up to £1000.

Only drivers whose photocard driving licence or entitlement to drive ran out between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020 had their entitlement automatically extended from the expiry date, for a period of 11 months. For example, if your licence expired on 15 July 2020 — it will have been automatically extended until 15 June 2021.

Once you apply for a new licence, you can continue driving while the DVLA is processing yours — as long as you meet the criteria set out by Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act. Check the criteria, available here, to see if you're eligible.

A DVLA spokesperson said: "Around 2 million motorists renew their driving licence online every year. For the vast majority, we are able to use their digital signature from the Passport Office.

"We are also developing a new system for renewing a driving licence – which we intend to launch later this year – which will allow customers to upload a signature online even if they don’t have a passport."


Peter Snowdon    on 19 April 2021

I am having exactly the same issues, however
I am 63 years old and my license runs out in August 2021
My passport expires in 2025 yet I still cannot renew my license online

Tonypep    on 19 April 2021

I am 72 and we recently moved house. We applied for an address change on our licence and they were able to do the wifes who is 65 online but i had to post mine with another photo and was charged £14.

We both renewed our passports in 2017, so why would it be ok for one and not the other to lift a digital signiture ??

I spoke to the DVLA and they said i would not be charged and can do online my 3 year replacement licence next year.

Richard Elliott    on 19 April 2021

The DVLA has been an absolute disgrace throughout the Covid emergency. It has failed to do its job. Those resposible should resign or be sacked.

VINCENT MILLARD    on 20 April 2021

The DVLA has been an absolute disgrace throughout the Covid emergency. It has failed to do its job. Those resposible should resign or be sacked.

I suppose we are lucky to have the Service at all! They are still working from Home and the speed at which they Work is determined by the their line speed!

We all had to do the Postal thing in the "Good old Days" so a little bit of inconvenience during Covid, surely can be put up with.

Of course if they loose your Licence that's different! I always Scan Mine before sending it, so that I have some proof to send Digitally in case they loose it!

Muttley04    on 20 April 2021

DVLA website tells you not to photocopy or scan your driving licence for security reasons.

jebedee    on 19 April 2021

Exactly the same issue-renewal paperwork points you to online renewal application, takes an age then refuses at the last saying it is not possible to confirm identity despite last year renewing Passport online. 1 hour on their chat line to establish that digital signature is the issue. Postal application + photo sent off into the unknown. Hope it is six weeks, not months as need to hire car end of June. DVLA does not fill you with confidence!

Falkirk Bairn    on 20 April 2021

Renewed my 75 year old wife's driving licence 3 weeks ago - on-line on the Thursday. She received the renewal, it landed on the hall mat 7 days later.

Next year it's my turn !!

Daybreak Girl    on 20 April 2021


Beardieweirdie    on 20 April 2021

I had a passport before 2017 but it expired a long time ago. Will I be able to renew online at 70?

Lucha    on 23 April 2021

I applied to renew my licence, March 2020. I sent it in recorded. They sent all my paperwork back and told me they were processing my application. A few weeks later I had to fill in another form, because I had ticked that I had a neurological illness. I was told that I would have to make an appointment with my doctor, so he could examine me and fill in a form. This form would be sent back to DVLA. I eventually got a telephone appointment with my doctor and he told me that he would fill in the form that DVLA, had sent to him. I finally got a reply from DVLA in December 2020, to say that they were satisfied, I was ok to drive and they would send me a temp licence, within 14 days. it never arrived!
I didn't contact them, because of lockdown and then, Christmas and New Year holidays. I assumed that most of their staff were working from home and would be busy. Then February of this year, I rang and rang but couldn't get through, so I tried on line but just went round in circles. So as a last resort, I wrote a letter and i'm still waiting. There has been nothing...no reply!

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