Here's what your driving licence number means

You might think your driving licence number is just a set of random letters and numbers put together as a unique driving ID, but the reality is it contains a lot of information that you don’t want to share.

Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden breaks down the number to reveal what it really means – and all the information about you that people can extract from it if you share it.

A paper and photocard UK driving licenceCheck out what your driving licence number says about you and why you should not share it  (Credit: Pete Barden)

What your driving licence number means

Ever wondered why people are warned against sharing their driving licence online via social media etc? Just take a look at what information can be gleaned from your unique driver number will make it clear.

Here is what your driving licence number means and why it reveals so much confidential information about you.

  • CHARACTERS 1-5: These are made up of the first five characters of the licence holder’s surname. If this is less than five letters, the gaps will be made up with nines
  • CHARACTER 6: This is the decade digit from the year of birth. So, 1993 would be 9.
  • CHARACTERS 7-8: These are made up from the driver’s birth month, so December would be 12. For female drivers, the seventh character is incremented by a 5 – so 51-62 as oppose to 01-12
  • CHARACTERS 9-10: This section reveals date within the month of birth – so anything from 01-31
  • CHARACTER 11: The year number from the year of birth. So, 1993 would be 3
  • CHARACTERS 12-13: These are made up from first two initials of the driver’s first names – if they don’t have a middle name, the character is replaced with a 9
  • CHARACTER 14: Random digit, which is typically 9
  • CHARACTERS 15-16: Two computer check digits
  • CHARACTERS 17-18: Appended, two digits that represent the licence issue – increase by one for each licence issued.

Along with the information revealed above, the licence can tell you a lot more. Here are a few things you should look out for on your photocard.

Numbers and codes reveal what vehicles you can drive

You might think you can just driver a car, but taking a look at the categories printed on your licence can reveal a whole host of other types or classes of vehicle that your licence permits you to drive.

There is likely to be a large variation between people, depending on when they took their test.

You can find the categories on the back of your photocard, and reveal what they mean with our guide to driving licence categories that can be found here.

I have a paper licence and can’t see my categories

Drivers who still have the paper licence will not be able to see their categories – unless they still have the paper counterpart that was made obsolete in 2015.

If you don’t have the counterpart, you can log on to the licence check system to see what categories you have on your licence – and any current penalty points as well.

If you want to update your licence to a photocard – or correct any out of date information, you can find out more details about how to exchange a paper driving licence for a photocard here.

Check your driving licence is not about to expire

More than 2million drivers in the UK are at risk of receiving a big for not updating their driving licence photo.

This mistake could leave you facing a fine of up to £1,000. Here is how to check the date that your driving licence photo needs to be changed.

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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.

Read all articles by Pete Barden

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