You must do several things before you drive a car or ride a motorcycle in Northern Ireland. These include registering, insuring, and taxing your vehicle, getting an MOT, and having an up-to-date driver’s licence. This is your legal obligation.
The driver’s licence in Northern Ireland is made up of two parts, a plastic photocard and, a paper counterpart. You must tell the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) immediately of any changes to your name, address, or your health.
Here is a quick checklist of best practice:
Keep Your Details Up To date
The importance of this is that in doing so all future renewal correspondence will go to the correct address.
Change of Address
If you move to a country outside of Northern Ireland, you will need to register in your new country of residence to obtain a local driving licence. The DVA cannot register your new address on a Northern Ireland licence.
Change of Name
You must let the DVA know any changes to your name that may occur due to, for example, marriage. You will be required to complete a DL1 application form and post it, along with the required documents, to the DVA.
Inform DVA of any medical conditions
If your medical circumstances change with regards to a medical condition or disability that may affect your driving, or you already suffer from one and your condition gets worse, you must tell the DVA.
Lost or Stolen Licence
If you have lost your driving licence, or you do not have a paper counterpart, you can apply for a replacement licence online.
How long do these changes take?
The DVA aims to process your licence within 10 working days of receiving the completed application. This can take longer if your health or personal details must be checked and verified. If you have not received your licence after four to six weeks you need to contact DVA.
If you do not bring to the attention of the DVA that your licence has not arrived within eight weeks, you will have to apply for a duplicate licence and pay the relevant fee.
What is the penalty for having an out-of-date licence?
Although the DVA will send you a reminder letter before your driving licence expires, it is your responsibility to ensure that your driving licence is valid. Missing the reminder letter, or if you have not kept your registered address details up to date, will not be accepted as a valid excuse for driving with an expired licence. If your driving licence has expired, you could be liable for a fine of up to £1,000.
You can keep up to date on the cost of making any changes to your driver’s licence via the NI Direct website and you can find out more information in our related blog covering motoring fixed penalties in Northern Ireland.