/ 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?

David Garland says:
18 August 2012

If you were to look at the idea,it does seem a good proposition.
The Post Office,as we know it ,it dead is the water.
The really valuable services have been sold off and the reaining services are running at a loss.
Putting the DVLA services and the Passport services into the Post offices will at least make it a more attractive when it eventually gets sold off.
The problem is that the Post offices will not be able to cope with the work loads.
Most of them have cut back on staffing levels and those members of staff left will have to do their regular work,plus handle all this extra work load.
They will all have to have extra training and learn how to handle new equipment.
I have stood and watched staff handling Visa applicants and it took over 30 minutes for one applicant. Now multiply that by a number of people and you see my point.

What will happen???
A huge back log and confusion and very angry customers!
So why not keep it simple and work with what we have now!!!??

Ian McDermaid says:
18 August 2012

That’s a good point David, yes if this were to go through then the PO would not be able to cope with the volume.

I can’t see them investing in the quantity required to fullfill the demand, as I have seen their inability to meet the demand of current customer demands.

I mean, what is your experience of going to the PO, mine is that you have to patiently queue, regardless, so what do you think will happen if they acquired this extra workload.

As the title says “renewing your driving licence just got harder” but if the government gets its way all ID photos will get harder to renew.

It’s easy – Post-Office 9-5, Tesco,ASDA 24hr, its all about the convenience.

If you work 9-5 and the government has its way you will be queuing up in the post office on your lunch break trying to renew your passport or driving licence or any other ID/photo based form (that’s if you can find a post-office with one of these special booths near to you.

But saving the already established company’s offering the ID photo service, you can call in morrisons on the way home or any other supermarket and have your photo taken and send it off in the post when you get home.

Is this not why we have convenience stores to make our lives easier?

So sign up today while its still convenient to have your photo taken anytime http://www.savethephotographers.co.uk/

Brian Steele says:
20 October 2012

Is it not rather ironic that this campaign is being sponsored by Photo-Me? I understand the interest of portrait photographers losing an income stream from those who get their passport and licence pictures taken professionally, but most of that income had already been poached by Photo-Me and their own machines years ago. What goes around comes around.

So we need a photographer to take a photo for a driving licence? On that basis we need a chef to heat a can of baked beans and a chauffeur to drive us to the supermarket. Sorry, but anyone capable of following instructions can do what is needed.

I’ve already made kind (and genuine) comments about professional photographers and taking snapshots for licences is hardly very creative. I’ve just had a look at the e-petition that has been mentioned and seen that it has been ‘signed’ by only 200 people, which is a bit short of the 100,000 needed. Perhaps I could be right.

I know photographers who are making a good living without doing handle-turning work like passport photos. Their main concern is that enthusiastic amateurs are encroaching on professional work.

Daniel says:
26 November 2012

Although I’m sure many photographers will take umbrage to the comparison to ‘heating a can of beans’, it is true that taking a passport photograph can be very simple with basic photographic knowledge and the ability to follow the DVLA guidelines.

On a side note, this is not the first threat to the bloated photographic industry, nor will it be the last. Photographers need to adapt to the changing landscape of the trade or die. Simple. It is absurd to insist that the government should be obliged to install contrived protectionism in an era when the sands are shifting beneath our feet in all directions.

I admit that my comment was a little provocative, Daniel. 🙂

There are plenty of other examples of the need to move with the times. Pubs are an obvious example. Many are struggling and many have closed, but some are doing well. In the photographic world, Kodak is a good example of what can go wrong.

Abrar Raja says:
1 July 2013

My Driving licence has been expired on 15 May 2013. If I apply today ( i.e 1st July 2013) for renewal of licence. Can I drive my car during the process period of renewal of licence which will
take 3 or more weeks ?

I appreciate if some one inform me about this.

Harry says:
21 July 2013

Could anyone explain why I had to pay £50 to renew my driving license & photo card at 70 ,
I went online and filled in all the correct information but to go any further I had to pay £50 to complete it .thought that you had to pay when you was 70 ,but since talking to friends my age they said it is free of charge at 70 could anyone explain please.

Brian Steele says:
5 August 2014

Sorry, but I imagine you visited a (barely) legal scam website.

If you Google renewal of driving licence, passport, EHIC etc. you will be given numerous sites which will assist with supplying them for a fee, glossing over the fact that you can do it direct either for free (for an EHIC) or at least with no service charge if you do it directly. They are very well crafted to look official and many people are drawn into parting with money that they do not have to pay.

The sites are legal, because they will not actually say anywhere that they are official and they are genuinely doing something for the money you give them, it’s just that you could do the same thing yourself for no greater effort without paying them.

David is right. Have a look at a recent Conversation to learn more about the problem and how to avoid being cheated again: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/trading-standards-beware-new-copycat-website-tricks/

I didnt have to pay to renew mine online. Did it throught the dvla in 5mins and they used a digital copy of my passport photo so didnt have to worry about that either. I got my new licence (with a new paper copy) within 4days. All they asked is that I cut up my old one and send it to the dvla. Dont kno why you are all making it hard and expensive for yourselves.

Oops. I mean Brian is right.

My comment will make no sense until the previous one with a link to another Conversation is approved.

Why can’t I edit my careless posts and why do links to pages on this site need to be approved? 🙁

Sorry Wavechange, comment editing is something we’ll look into. Links needs to be approved in case they go somewhere they shouldn’t.

I look forward to being able to edit comments, even if this is only available for a short time after posting.

I understand the need to approve links but was suggesting automatic approval of comments that are already on this website. Maybe that would be technically difficult.

Sorry for the off-topic comment, Patrick.

Daniel Bryan says:
10 September 2014

J the problem is that they will only accept passport photo if its taken winin 5 years. my 15 year passport is going to expire next year so i cant use it which means i gotta go post office get them to take my picture costing me £4.50 then post it to DVLA with £20 cheque. I dont even have a cheque book ! hassle and waste of money ! just another way for government to theive cash from us. besides the card licence and postage does not come close to costing £24.50

Amber Lynn Jones says:
16 August 2013

Renewing driver license is certainly needed for automobile-owners like us; though it’s sort of hassle at times. I think it would be wise to take the DVLA photo services to make standard driver license photos. Though it’s kinda costly, but thinking about the livelihood opportunities for its photographers and the quality services they offer, the fee is worth it! I admire the desire of DVLA to provide centralize photo IDs. It’s like centralization of emergency contact numbers of my Call Emergency App

Edward M. Pugh says:
19 August 2013

So with the question, Would you drive for half an hour just to renew your driving licence photo? I would say yes, for now. But still I think that it would be more convenient to have more locations to renew your license unlike diving that long. I travel a lot so driving for 30 minutes just to renew my license is not really that big hassle to me. I wish there would be a mobile app to renew our license. It would be more convenient that way. Very good for emergency situations.

[Hi Edward, we’ve removed the link from your comment. Thanks, mods.]

Belinda Melvin says:
2 June 2014

If you still hold a paper licence do you still have to apply for a photo one

Brian Steele says:
2 June 2014

Not until it expires or needs to be replaced. That means that unless you move house, are given endorsements or want to add any new categories to it, you can keep with the paper one until it expires when you reach the age of 70. If you have to send your licence in to have any changes made to it, then the replacement would be a photocard one and that would need to be renewed every 10 years, essentially just to keep the photo up to date.

What a load of rubbish, write a title that is true or get a new job. It got EASIER, as you can now select to use your passport photo. I just renewed my license within 5mins and got the new one through the post within 4days.

Daniel Bryan says:
10 September 2014

So let me get this right, the British government wants us (the people who OWN this country) to pay £20 of our own hard earnt cash to renew our driving licence of which mine is perfectly usable, picture is the same (forgetting one grey hair) and all details are the same ? this is outragiously stipid and a waste of money. If i want something i will go buy it for myself. so government want me to buy my licence again why dont they pay for it if they want me to have it so badly. i can not understand this government they are so god damn stupid and well the people dont stand up to them. this country sucks and i can see a reason why people would want to be here. America is a true free country. what you buy is yours forever !

Daniel Bryan: YES! YES! YES!

I just spent 50 minutes at the Post Office after driving 30 miles to get there and was told to come back because the machine wasn’t working. Staff said this happens all the time. I’ll have to drive another 30 miles to get there tomorrow. Overall total of 120 miles.

How come that I just applied for a 10 year renewal driving licence
online costing me 85£ and only 20 £
if I would have applied py post ?

Because you are probably on the wrong website. I renewed mine last month for 10yrs and it cost me £20 came within 4days and it came with my passport photo on it so didnt need to fuss around getting a photo done

Ian S. says:
7 October 2014

Beware of sites like drivinglicences org. Although they are legal, they are trying to charge you for filling in the forms on your behalf and then posting them out to you. They do state this on the home page, declaring themselves “an application assistance service” or a “checking service” and clearly stating that they are “not connected to any UK Government body” and then they charge you, in this instance £85. If you wish to avoid any unnecessary fees and charges, make sure you only go to the official DVLA / GOV.UK sites e.g. http://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/driving-licences

To be honest I’m surprised Which haven’t done more to highlight this companies.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Hi Ian and Lizzy, thanks for your comments. We have worked with the Government, search engines and trading standards to sort out copycat websites and also raise awareness.

Here’s a post about what we’ve done to convince the Government to act: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/government-copycat-websites-scam-google-search/
Here’s a guest post from Google: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/google-ads-copycat-websites-tax-return-congestion-charge/
And a guest post from Trading Standards: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/trading-standards-beware-new-copycat-website-tricks/

We also have an advice guide on how to spot and avoid copycat sites: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-spot-a-copycat-website I hope it helps.

I am impressed by what Which? and Google have done to help raise awareness of the problem and to address it.

A Google search no longer lists copycat sites for passport renewal, at least on the first page. The distinctive yellow labels identifying sites that advertise seem to be here to stay. On the other hand, a Yahoo search pulls up copycat sites and it is difficult to tell which have paid to advertise.

The message would get over to many more people if the BBC gave Which? the opportunity to publicise issues such as this on TV.

I have not paid yet. Can I leave the site?

hayley says:
4 March 2015

Driving Licence renewal without passport

How do i renew my driving licence without a valid Passport?
I orginally only wanted to change the address but without a passport i couldnt and i couldnt find any information on how?

I have also only got the plastic card driving licence and lost the paper version.

Any advice I would truely appreciate
kindest regards

Hi Hayley, thanks for your comment. To renew your driving licence, you will need to have a valid UK passport or other form of identity. More information can be read here:



If you don’t have part of your licence (card or paper) you must say why in your renewal application. In your position, I’d certainly get in touch with the DVLA for further advice 🙂 :


And the daft thing is the Passport office accepts photo’s from the machines you find in Tesco but the Post Office does not,and yet they accept the same photo if it’s on a valid UK Passport.Where is the logic there?

There are strict requirements about the pose and facial position in a passport photo. We’ve used the Post Office to check applications and this is one of the checks. Better than having it rejected by the passport office..

I went to get mine done at the Post office in Oxford, on a Tuesday afternoon (not peak time!) and waited 2 hours to be seen. Others waited up to 3. Not really on….

Yes just came back from the Post Office which was a 25 minute drive away.I said I have my own photo’s but the Woman was having none of it.I even said well theyre good enough for my passport,but NO! it would have to be done by Her with the machine in the P.O.I was then informed that the machine wasnt working and to come back tomorrow.Well what a spiffing service that is.

This Post Office was in Markfield,Leicestershire btw

S Rollinson says:
10 September 2018

This is an absolute con. You can renew on line if you have a valid passport. This defeats the object of having an up to date photo if you have an old passport !!!!!

michelle valentine says:
16 October 2018

I just renewed my sons licence online and they charged £71.60!!! so I have cancelled it and happy to pay £25 at my post office, £48 admin fees how ridiculous is that, just greedy!

Phil says:
16 October 2018

See comments above about copycat websites.

This comment was removed at the request of the user