Drivers with photocard licences that expire before the end of 2020 are being granted an automatic 11-month extension. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) says the temporary rule change will help drivers through this “uncertain” period.

In the summer, the DVLA announced automatic seven-month extensions for drivers with photocard licences that expired between February 1 and August 31, but the scope of those extensions have grown. Drivers with licences expiring between February 1 and December 31 are now being granted longer 11-month extensions, meaning some drivers will not have to renew until the end of November 2021.

Drivers do not need to apply for the extensions, and the DVLA says it will remind motorists when they need to renew their photocard. However, the new rule does not apply to holders of provisional licences, for whom the original licence expiry dates remain.

The measure only applies to the photocard part of the licence, though, so drivers losing their entitlement to drive will not get an extension. The photocard normally needs to be replaced every 10 years, whereas the entitlement to drive is valid until the holder is 70 years old. From then on, it needs renewing every three years. These renewals will continue as originally planned.

Although the rule change has been made in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the licence extension is an EU measure. In June, the seven-month extensions were rolled out across the EU, and the UK agreed to implement the rule on these shores. When the EU decided to extend the measure further, the UK matched the extension yet again.

UK provisional driving licence

The DVLA’s chief executive, Julie Lennard, said the extensions would help drivers concerned about the hassle of renewals.

“Being able to drive is a lifeline for millions of people and this further extension will ensure that in these continued uncertain times, drivers don’t need to worry about the admin or the associated costs with renewing their licences,” she said. “The temporary extension is automatic, and drivers do not need to do anything. Drivers who have already applied to renew their photocard driving licence or entitlement to drive can usually carry on driving while we process their application, providing they have not been told by their doctor or optician that they should not drive.”