When drivers reach 70 years of age in the UK, they will need to renew their driving licence. Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden reveals how to do it, how to stay legal and how much it will cost.
And with new figures from the DVLA showing the UK has a record number of drivers over the age of 70, it's essential for those 5.7 million with a full licence to keep on top of renewals as delays increase for new documents to be processed.
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Hitting 70? You will need to renew your licence (Credit: Pexels.com)
When you get your licence, you will see that it expires when you reach 70 years old. This is normal and applies to all drivers, so is nothing to worry about. You will need to renew the licence if you intend to carry on driving. The reason behind this is to ensure drivers remain fit to drive on safety grounds.
Yes. The DVLA will send you a letter around 90 days before you turn 70. The letter will include a D46P application form to help ensure you can keep driving.
There is also an option to renew your licence online, which will always be faster than applying by post.
Is there anything I need to do now as I approach 70?
If you are approaching 70, you should check your current licence has the correct address on it, otherwise you will not receive the reminder. You could also face a fine of up to £1,000 if you have the wrong address on the licence.
No. There is no physical driving test, but you must be able to match certain standards if you wish to retain your licence beyond 70.
To have your driving licence renewed at 70 years old, you must meet the following requirements.
Eyesight: Like all drivers of any age, you will need to meet the minimum eyesight requirement defined by the DVLA. These are: You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
You must also have acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye. You must also have an adequate field of vision. Your optician will be able to help explain and test for these requirements.
Additional standards apply if you are renewing a licence to drive lorries and buses.
Medical conditions: You must inform the DVLA if you are suffering from a range of
medical conditions. Some could stop you from getting a new licence. Find a list of these conditions here.
Some of the conditions that the DVLA must be told about include:
Diabetes – if treated by insulin
Neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis
Conditions that affects both eyes, or total loss of sight in one eye.
Make sure you tell the DVLA about medical conditions as they start to develop and not just when renewing your licence.
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READ MORE ON DRIVING LICENCE ESSENTIALS
Renewing the document will be free for those reaching the age of 70 and every three years beyond that.
Yes. But you will not be able to keep a paper version, with the document being replaced by a new-style photocard licence.
If you already have a valid passport and access to the internet, or a current photocard rather than a paper licence, you can make your application online and the DVLA will use that same photo for your new licence. However, if using other methods to apply as detailed below, you may need to send a new passport-style photo for your new driving licence.
You can fill in the D46P form and return it to the DVLA with your current licence. You can apply in this way up to 90 days before your 70th birthday.
If you have a photocard-style licence, you may need to send a new photo with the application. The application form you receive will let you know if one is required.
Anyone with a paper licence will need to fill in the form and send it to the DVLA with a passport-style photo – and the paper licence. There are currently long delays in processing requests this way.
Using the DVLA’s online system to renew your licence when it expires on your 70th is easy and quick. To use the online system, you will need the following:
An email address
Addresses of where you’ve lived for the last 3 years
Your National Insurance number - if you don't know this you can use this Gov.UK service to find it.
A valid UK passport number (if you want to change the licence photo)
Make your application here.
The Covid pandemic has previously put a big strain on the DVLA and services such as driving licence renewals were taking longer to process, but these delays have largely disappeared now with processing times back to around two weeks. However, you can keep driving while you wait for your new licence if you meet the following requirements:
You have the support of your doctor to continue driving
You had a valid licence
You only drive under the conditions of the previous licence
Your application is less than a year old
Your last licence wasn’t revoked or refused for medical reasons
You’re not currently disqualified
You weren’t disqualified as a high risk offender on or after 1 June 2013
Once you reach 70 years of age, you will need to apply to have it renewed every three years - so at 73, 76, 79 and beyond. You will be contacted each time you need to renew.
There’s no set age when a person has to stop driving from a legal perspective. Older people are entitle to continue driving for as long as they can do so safely and are not suffering from medical conditions that could stop them doing so safely. The will have to renew their licence every three years.
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Author: Pete Barden:
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), 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.