/ Motoring

Renewing your driving licence photo just got harder

Would you drive for half an hour just to renew your driving licence photo? Well, you might have to if you’re set on doing it in person – there are currently 753 DVLA-approved Post Office branches.

Driving licences have to be renewed every ten years so that the photo can take into account the signs of aging, which are probably down, in part, to the stresses of running a car.

Until relatively recently you could turn up at your local Post Office to get a driving licence form to send off with a photo to the DVLA. Now, although you can still apply by post or online, if you want to do it in person you have to visit one of 753 Post Offices in the UK. Only in these particular branches will they take your photo to the required DVLA standards.

Tracking down your nearest approved Post Office

So, what’s the problem? Well, according to the Save the Photographers Campaign, this initiative adversely affects consumers and professional photographers alike. Anyone who doesn’t live close to one of the 753 designated Post Offices, and would prefer to avoid sending important documents through the post, may have cause for concern.

When you consider that there are 11,818 Post Office branches in the UK, there are currently only 753 branches that offer the new DVLA Photocard Renewal service. For example, if you’re in Skegness, Scunthorpe or Shrewsbury you’ll have to travel for over half an hour by road to find an approved Post Office.

Likewise, the loss of revenue high street photographers have incurred is estimated to place 350 businesses in danger of closure with around 5,000 jobs at risk. And for what purpose?

How would you like to renew your licence?

Around 2.4 million people need a new or replacement driving licence each year. I expect a fair proportion of them would like to visit their closest DVLA-approved Post Office and pay the £4.50 it costs to have staff take their photograph (this is on top of the £20 DVLA fee).

What bugs me is, if you can send your own photo by post to the DVLA, why can’t you turn up to a Post Office and submit your own printed photo? I’m sure the DVLA has a reason, but I can’t think of one.

The Save the Photographers Campaign believes this is just part one in a larger plan to centralise photo IDs, with a similar plan for passport photos being the next logical stage.

I can see the benefit of this scheme (it’s trusted and they’ll do all the work for you) and it may suit some people, but does it have to be detrimental to those who might prefer to take their own photos or use a professional service? Surely there’s room for both?

Cliff Daniels says:
24 July 2012

It is about time this problem was addressed! Lets not forget the number of private sector photography jobs that are put in danger if this continues- co-existence has to be the answer.

Concerned Cliff 🙁


I respect professional photographers but equally I am aware that their days are numbered. Anyone can take photographs and many amateurs can take very good ones. As with phone boxes and cinemas, the demand is falling.

concerned says:
1 August 2012

Is the fact that “demand is fallin” a reason, a justification to accelerate it?!
The reality is that the provision of ID pictures is helping the photographers in continuing to offer the great services people like: wedding picturs, posters, canvas, personnalised albums etc… and even if less 4×6 pictures are printed, europeans still printed 16 billions of them last year! just don’t kill an industry that has been built on so much innovation and creativity!


I look at it from another way. I see it as fantastic that so many have a worthwhile hobby that does not need to be expensive. Taking photos for a driving licence has nothing whatsoever to do with innovation and creativity. As I said, I have a great respect for photographers but the demand for their services is falling. I had assumed that weddings would continue to keep photographers in business, but I have seen some good work done by enthusiasts with decent equipment.

Gimpel says:
3 August 2012

@wave change
Well actually you are mistaken…ID pictures have to go by heavy international regulations (the ICAO norm), these did evolve a few years ago and are stating many requirements including format, head size, position, print quality, paper quality…. So photographers (be it the booth or your local) have had to invest accordingly to ensure conformity. So not the most glittering part of the job but still requiring professionalism and investment in equipment and softwares.


I’m well aware that there are detailed requirements, Gimpel, but that has nothing to do with innovation and creativity. It is very well known that if you submit a photo that does not comply with a passport application, it will be rejected.

Maureen Howard says:
12 September 2015

Just had my license stolen trying to find a method of renewal is unbelievable I am not very computer literate being born too long ago and the whole process of finding a means to be legal I am just having a sob out of frustration what a mess we are in Help !

Aggravated Andy says:
13 August 2012

I agree completely Cliff, we need to save our photographers. Also, I’d like to challenge anyone to print a supposed official ID photo on a home printer and get that by the passport office!


A friend has done passport photos for several people and the photos were all accepted by the Passport Office. It’s just a case of reading the requirements and following them. If an automatic machine can take a passport photo then it’s not that hard for a competent person to do the same.