We’ve all read about the extensive delays at the DVLA. People who are trying to renew their driving licence, apply for a new driving licence or get an answer to a car-related query are having to wait months for a reply. Although things do appear to be getting slowly better, there are still delays and backlogs with certain aspects of the system. If yours is one of the applications or queries which is caught in the system, then it’s only natural to want to call up the DVLA to chase things along, or just get a bit of information about how long you can expect to wait. Like any massive organisation, the key to getting an answer to your query is getting hold of the right person or department. The right way to contact the DVLA will depend on what you need to speak to them about.
The Drover and Vehicle Licensing Authority is the government body in the UK which manages everything to do with driving licences and car ownership. They process the paperwork when you buy or sell a car, issue new driving licences, add points to licences when people are caught speeding, and collect road tax payments. The DVLA however can’t help you organise your car insurance, and if you have questions about how your company car affects your tax, you’ll need to speak to HMRC. A separate body called VOSA deals with any questions about booking either a theory or practical driving test. But for most other queries about car ownership or licences, the DVLA Is your first port of call. Other things which the DVLA deal with are:
DVLA is based in Swansea, in South Wales. It is one of the area’s biggest employers, with around 6,000 staff. With such a large organisation, it’s easy to get lost in the system if you aren’t very specific about what you want, and who you need to speak to. If you speak to someone and are asked to come back with specific information, always ask for their name, or at very least the name of the department where they work to make it easier to reconnect with them later.
One of the major responsibilities of the DVLA is managing the car tax process. They have lots of information on their website about how to tax your car, cancelling your car tax, setting up a direct debit for your car tax, or taking your car off the road and declaring a statutory off-road notification, or SORN. It’s always worth checking through all of the information online first as you might be able to find the answer to your queries without having to make a call.
If you still have queries about car tax or SORN after reading through the online information, then the number you need for vehicle enquiries is 0300 790 6802. The lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm and on Saturday from 8am to 2pm. There is also the option to contact them through the webchat service, or by email or post.
The DVLA issue all driving licences in the UK, whether you are applying for a standard car driving licence, one for a motorbike, or HGV. Drivers also need to contact the DVLA about a new licence if they move house, or if they change their name through marriage or by deed poll. The good news is that most of this can be done online without speaking to anyone at the DVLA at all. If you have a current UK passport, you should also be able to use the photograph on your passport on your driving licence too, or upload a selfie from your phone rather than sending traditional photobooth photos. Processing changes on driving licences can take a while though, and you should leave at least two weeks between submitting information to the DVLA and contacting them to chase up progress.
If you do need to contact DVLA about any aspect of your driving licence then the number is 0300 790 6801. This line is open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm, and Saturday 8am to 2pm. There is also the option of emailing, or using the postal or webchat services.
Drivers in Northern Ireland should deal with the Driving and Vehicle Agency there. Their number is 0300 200 7861, and the lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.
DVLA also manages the paperwork and system for keeping track of who owns all of the vehicles on the UK roads. You’ll need to contact them if you buy a new car, sell a car, move house and need to change the address on your V5C log book form, or want to put a personalised number plate onto a car which you own. They will also deal with specialist enquiries about importing vehicles from overseas, or exporting them permanently.
This is part of the DVLA system which has experienced delay in the Covid-19 pandemic and which is struggling to catch up. Details of current processing times are posted on the DVLA website so it’s worth checking there before calling them to chase. For example, the standard time to get a new change of registered keeper is around six weeks, or two weeks to allocate a new personalised plate to a car.
The number for these enquiries is 0300 790 6802, which is the same line as for any car tax queries.
Drivers have a legal obligation to tell the DVLA if they are diagnosed with a medical condition which might affect their driving. There is a long list of conditions which this might apply to on the DVLA website. If your GP tells you to stop driving, then you must get in touch with the DVLA and tell them. This is the part of the system which takes longest to get an answer as each case is considered separately and someone will have to manually review each case rather than the system being automated. It usually takes at least six weeks for the DVLA to reach a decision about whether or not you should be allowed to keep driving, or to give your licence back once you have been cleared to start driving again.
Should you need to discuss this with them, the number to call is 0300 790 6806, with the same opening hours of Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm, and Saturday 8am to 2pm. You also have the options of the webchat, email and post, and Northern Irish drivers should contact the relevant authorities there.
Companies which hire cars, or employers who want to check the entitlement of their workers to drive might also want to contact the DVLA. It’s not enough just to check whether someone has a full driving licence or not. Often, insurance companies will want to know whether an employee has any points on their licence, or has ever lost their licence for things like drunk driving. The only way of getting this information is to get in touch with DVLA. Employers and car hire companies will need the driver’s permission to do this. The DVLA can also confirm what categories of vehicles someone’s licence entitles them to drive.
It is easiest to do this online. If you want to check someone’s driving licence you will need the last eight digits of their driving licence number, and a check code which has to be generated by the driver. Once you have these, you can log int the DVLA section of the government website, and follow the on-screen instructions from there. If you want to check your own driving record to check your penalty points, or generate s code to give to a car hire company or your employer, you can do this online too. You will need your full driving licence number, your National Insurance number, and the postcode listed on your driving licence.
There is another separate number to contact if you are struggling with any part of checking someone else’s driving record, or getting information on your own record. The number to call is 0300 083 0013 and the lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm, and Saturday 8am to 2pm.
Above we’ve listed the main reasons why someone might want to contact the DVLA but there are other possibilities too. Often however, it’s a completely different body which you will need to contact, and the confusion is down to the confusion about what DVLA does and where their responsibilities lie.
Delays at the DVLA have been in the news for months now, with stories of people unable to start working without a driving licence, or whose applications get lost in the system. As with many other government agencies, the DVLA is moving from a paper-based to a digital system, and this is the main clue as to what you can do to speed up any dealings with them.
Most of the main functions of the DVLA, such as buying car tax or getting a new driving licence can be done online. Unlike the old days where everything had to be done in person at the Post Office, you can get a new driving licence or pay your car tax at any time of the day or night. It’s quicker too, as there are no delays associated with the postal service. The postal option is still there for those who prefer not to deal with things online, but it’s important to be aware that choosing this way of application might make things slower.
The other top tip is to make sure that you take care over completing the paperwork. It’s easy to make a typo or transpose digits from your driving licence number, but this is just going to cause delay and confusion at the other end when the DVLA come back to you and ask for clarification or more information. This is especially relevant for people whose first language isn’t English, who struggle with using the computer, or who have literacy difficulties. In these situations, it’s always better to get help with filling in the form from someone with good English and computer skills, to make sure you get things right first time.