Do I need to swap my paper driving licence for a photocard


Have you got an old-style green paper driving licence? If so, you may be concerned that it is no longer valid and needs to be swapped for a new-style pink photocard. Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden gives you the information needed to ensure you remain legal while driving in the UK.

We also take a look at whether car hire firms will accept your paper document when attempting to collect a rental car while abroad on holiday or business.

A green paper driving licence and a new photocard - but do I need to swap it. Have you got a paper driving licence? See here if you need to swap it for a photocard version  (Copyright: Pete Barden )

When did the green paper version stop being issued to UK drivers?

In 2015, the DVLA said that around 7 million British drivers still held paper versions of the document - either the green or pink versions - meaning there will still be several million in circulation despite all paper versions ceasing to be issued after March 2000.

Is my paper driving licence still valid?

While it's true that the DVLA scrapped the production of all such paper documents in 2000, they remain legal for most drivers. However, this is not the case for all drivers. For example, if the address is incorrect, or the holder has turned 70 since around 2000. See below for more details of whether your paper licence remains valid. 

I am over 70 - is my paper document valid?

No. If you are aged 70 or over, your document would have automatically expired leaving you required to renew it. The process of exchanging it at 70 is free and can be completed online here

Remember, if your document expired during the pandemic, it may have been automatically renewed for 11 months - but that extension will now be up for renewal as normal. Find out more information on Covid-extended documents here

When you renew your document, you will not get a new paper one, and will need to provide a photograph for the new photocard version.

I am under 70 - is my paper version still legal?

Yes, your green paper document will still be legal and valid. However, this would not be the case if your right to drive has been revoked, or if the address printed on it is not correct. Also, if you have your maiden name on it, this is another reason it could be invalid. Changing your name via deed poll will also need to be reflected on the document.

Research suggests that up to 55,000 women could still be driving with their maiden on the official document.

Incorrect details, such as name and address, could result in a fine of up to £1,000.

If you have to update yours - for the likes of name and address as mentioned above, you will automatically be forced to switch to a new photocard version.

How much is it to exchange my paper version for a photocard?

Here are the fees for changing your document from paper to the new photocard. Changing it at 70 years of age should be free for most drivers. 

What you’re exchanging Apply online Apply by post
Paper licence for photocard with change of address Free Free
Paper licence for photocard with change of name N/A Free
Paper licence for photocard with no change of details £20 £20

Will hire car firms accept my paper version when I am abroad?

Foreign hire car firms should accept your paper document, but you will need to obtain a code before you travel so the operator can check your driving record. 

The code can be obtained from the Gov.UK site here, and is valid for 21 days. The code allows the operator to check your driving record for convictions, points and disqualifications etc.

When applying for this code, you will need the following:

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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