A simples guide

Renewing a driving licence after age 70

Once you reach the age of 70, your driving licence will automatically expire. This means that if you want to continue driving after this age, you’ll need to apply to have it renewed. The main consideration here is ensuring you’re still safe to drive.

You need to renew the licence before your 70th birthday, and then every three years thereafter. However, if you satisfy the authorities that you remain fit to drive, then there is no legal maximum age by which your licence must be surrendered.

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Renewing by post

Fortunately, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will automatically send you a renewal application form, known as a D46P form (or a DL1R form in Northern Ireland), 90 days before your 70th birthday. The renewal process is free.

Once the form has arrived, ensure you complete it in full. The completed form needs to be returned to the DVLA, along with your current licence and a passport style photograph.

If you have a non-photo card licence (sometimes known as a paper licence), then you will also need to send an original document showing proof of your identity (copies are not accepted).

This could be your passport, the official letter confirming your eligibility for the State Pension, or a biometric residence permit (identity card) if you’re a foreign national.

driving licence
car wheel and sunset

Renewing online

Online renewal applications can be made on the Government website. You’ll first need to register for the online service. Once again, ensure the online forms are fully completed and that you comply with all the requirements.

Can I continue to drive during the renewal process?

In most cases, you can continue to drive as before while the DVLA considers your renewal application.

The circumstances in which you cannot continue to drive are:

• Your doctor does not believe you are fit to drive
• You yourself have grounds for believing you are not medically fit to drive
• Your most recent licence was refused or revoked on medical grounds
• You did not have a valid licence at the time of your renewal application
• You have been disqualified from driving
• The DVLA takes more than 12 months to reach a decision on your renewal application

Health conditions and driving

As a driver, you’re legally required to inform the DVLA if you develop certain medical conditions or disabilities, and to inform them again if your health subsequently deteriorates. This applies even if you have not reached the age of 70 when you become ill, or if you’re in between three yearly renewals when diagnosed.

The full list of conditions which require notification is available on the Government website.
These conditions include:

• Dementia
• Diabetes requiring insulin treatment
• Parkinson’s disease
• Epilepsy
• Neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis
• Medical conditions affecting both eyes, or resulting in total loss of sight in one eye
• Strokes of certain severity
• Cancers of certain severity

Informing the authorities that you have one of these conditions does not mean that you are automatically banned from driving. The DVLA may instead ask you to attend a medical examination so the severity of your condition can be assessed, may issue you with a short-term licence (perhaps for as short a time as one year) or may require you to modify your car in some way.

If you disclose a condition to the DVLA, you must also inform your insurance provider without delay.

If you have an accident in which an undisclosed medical condition may have played a part, then your insurance could be invalidated and you could even be prosecuted.

The eyesight requirements

In order to be able to legally drive in the UK, you must meet the following eyesight requirements, with the aid of spectacles or contact lenses if necessary:

• You can read a modern car number plate (one made after September 1 2001) at a distance of 20 metres.
• You have a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) on the Snellen scale
• You have an adequate field of vision

Your optician can supply more information about the last two requirements and can carry out the necessary tests.

These requirements are for car drivers – there are stricter requirements for driving other vehicles, such as lorries and buses.

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