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    Renewing your photocard driving licence

    Driving Licence Photocard driving licences were first introduced to the UK in July 1998. Now thousands of motorists are at risk of being fined up to £1,000 because they don't realise that it actually expires after ten years and must be renewed.

    The cost to update your photocard is £17.50 (which, according to an article in the Daily Mail, will earn the Treasury an estimated £437 million over 25 years). You don't need to re-take the driving test, but you'll have to provide a more recent picture. The paper part of the licence won't expire until your 70th birthday.

    If you are one of the 44,880 people currently driving with an invalid licence, you are allowed to continue driving, but the DVLA says you could be charged with 'failing to surrender your licence' and fined. Apparently insurance cover shouldn't be affected though. So far nobody has actually been charged, but if the problem increases a crackdown could be considered necessary.

    Bear in mind that most car hire companies will consider an out-of-date photocard as expired, meaning you might run into problems at the collection desk.

    To find out whether or not your licence requires updating, check section '4b' on the card. There's a date on the front, and some rather tiny print on the back explaining that it means 'licence valid to'.

    The reason for this law is to prevent licences from being used fraudulently. As we all know, appearances can change dramatically in ten years, so your original picture might not resemble you accurately enough (unless you're one of the lucky ones!).

    The DVLA has been sending out reminders two months before the licence expires, so there shouldn't be any need to panic. Details of how to renew you photocard are on the direct.gov website, and it's quite straight-forward.

    As another 300,000 licences are due to expire this summer, hopefully enough will be done to promote this rule to motorists before any of us suffer the consequences of inadvertently breaking it.

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