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Don’t let an expired licence drive you to penalty points and fines

Driving with an expired driver's licence can lead to some harsh punishments - here's how to renew your licence in the UK when the time comes


If you drive with an expired driver’s licence in the UK, you could face penalties such as a fine, points on your licence, and even a driving ban.

In general, it’s illegal to drive without a valid licence in the UK, and doing so can have serious legal and financial consequences. It’s important to make sure that your driver’s licence is always up to date and renewed in a timely manner to avoid any potential penalties.

Mine has expired, what could happen?

If your licence has expired, meaning that the ‘4b’ date on the card has been and gone, hitting the road is a bad idea. If you are caught driving with an expired licence, the penalties you may face will depend on two factors:

The length of time your licence has been expired

If your licence has only recently expired, you may receive a warning or a small fine. However, if your licence has expired for a longer period of time, you could face a larger fine, points on your licence, or even a driving ban.

Any previous driving offences you may have committed

If you have a history of driving offences or have previously been banned from driving, you may face more severe penalties.

In general, if you are caught driving with an expired licence, you could face a fine of up to £1,000, and you could receive up to six penalty points on your licence. Remember, if you accumulate 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period, you could be disqualified from driving for a period of time.

In addition to the legal and financial consequences, driving with an expired licence can also affect your car insurance. Most insurance policies require that you have a valid driver’s licence, so if you are caught driving with an expired licence, your insurance could be invalidated.

How do I renew my licence?

You are required to renew your photocard driver’s licence every ten years. When those ten years are nearly up, you will be sent a renewal reminder letter in the post. If you are unsure whether your licence is still valid, it’s best to check with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to avoid any potential penalties.

Visit the DVLA website here, but keep in mind that you will need a valid British passport and your current licence on hand to renew online, as well as a debit or credit card to pay the £14 fee required.

You will also be asked to provide the addresses of where you’ve lived over the last three years and your national insurance number, but you can still proceed with the renewal if you don’t know the latter. When you complete the application, the DVLA will ask you to send your current licence to them by post.

You can also apply at your local Post Office or by post. For the former, you will need to pay a £21.50 fee and have your current licence on hand. For the latter, you will need to submit a passport type photo, your current licence and a cheque or postal order for £17 payable to the DVLA.

If you live in Northern Ireland, there is a slightly different application process that can be found here. You will not be able to apply if you are currently disqualified from driving, and in some cases you can still apply if you have lost your current licence, though you will be asked why you don’t have it.

The DVLA says that you will receive your new licence within a week of your online application. If you apply by post, it’s likely to take around three weeks. If the renewal comes delayed, there is no need to panic! You can continue to drive in the UK (including Northern Ireland) when you have an active renewal application being processed.

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.
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