Lots of people enjoy the independence of driving. Whilst there is no legal maximum age limit for drivers, those who wish to continue driving after they turn 70 must apply to renew a driving licence, and then every three years after that.
When do I need to renew a driving licence?
90 days before a driver is expected to turn 70, the DVLA will send a reminder letter along with the D46P application form. An application to renew the driving licence can be made at any time during that 90 day period.
What happens if I do not renew my licence at 70?
A driving licence automatically expires when the driver turns 70, so if an application is not submitted before then, it is illegal to continue driving. As long as an application has been made, drivers may continue driving after their 70th birthday, until a decision has been given.
Do I have to retake my driving test at 70?
There is no need to resit a driving test in order to renew a driving licence at 70. That said, to ensure safe driving after 70, there are assessment centres that will review driving ability, which can be especially useful for drivers who have any doubts about ability or confidence, or for those who passed a long time ago and want to double-check they know about any rule changes since then.
Driving Mobility have 20 centres throughout the UK which offer assessments click on the link to find your local assessment centre.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists offer a Mature Driver Assessment, which is a 60 minute session in the driver’s own car with an approved assessor.
I’m worried about my parent’s driving ability
It can be difficult to start a conversation with a parent about driving ability, especially as they get older or after an illness. Annabel James talks about her Mum’s experience of having a driving assessment after a stroke, and the importance of being prepared for it.
What are the restrictions around driving over 70?
Research by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) shows that drivers over the age of 70 are no more likely to have an accident whilst driving than anyone else. Older drivers are more likely to have the types of medical conditions which the DVLA must be told about. These might be existing conditions which have worsened, or new ones. For example, the DVLA should be told about Parkinson’s, dementia, and insulin-treated diabetes.
When completing form D46P to renew a driving licence, it is a serious offence not to declare a condition or disability that might affect driving ability. Non-declaration can result in a fine of up to £1,000; if it is something which causes a crash, the driver may be prosecuted.
It is a very good idea to ask your doctor for a medical check before renewing your licence when you reach 70 years of age, and again each time your licence is renewed.
A full list of conditions is given on the GOV.UK website.
Our guide ‘When to Stop Driving Safely’ has some great advice and tips on what to consider.
Should I be driving if I have poor eyesight?
There is a legal standard eyesight for driving, and these standards apply to everyone. Drivers are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses to reach the standard, as long as they always use them when driving. The code 01 will be written on the licence to confirm that they should be worn.
GOV.UK lists the eyesight standards required for drivers.
Can you drive with eyesight in one eye?
In some cases drivers may continue to drive despite having vision in only one eye. The driver must be able to demonstrate that vision in the other eye is good enough to cope, and that the field of vision is sufficient.
As with any health condition that affects driving, it is an offence not to tell the DVLA about it, so drivers must report this as soon as it happens, and again during each renewal process.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind explains that it can take a person up to 3 months to adjust to the loss of sight in one eye. More advice and guidance about driving with vision issues is available in the resource bank below.
Am I eligible to renew my driving licence at 70?
- Drivers are eligible to renew a driving licence at 70 providing they meet the following requirements:
- The existing or previous British licence has expired – or it’s going to expire within 90 days
- The driver is a resident of Great Britain (there’s a different service in Northern Ireland)
- The minimum eyesight requirement is met
- There are no other reasons why the driver may not continue driving, including health reasons
The AA has written guidance about how to manage as an older driver. This includes tips such as avoiding driving during busier times, or at night.
How do I renew a driving licence that has expired or is about to expire at 70?
An application to renew a driving licence at 70 can be submitted online or by post. The DVLA will send a reminder letter 90 days before the expiry date which will explain the different methods of applying.
There is also a DVLA helpline which provides advice and guidance on the rules and how to apply: 0300 790 6801
Renew a driving licence at 70 online
A driving licence application can be made through the GOV.UK website. They will ask for a Government Gateway ID, which can also be registered for online if one is not already held or if the details have been forgotten: Renew your driving licence if you’re 70 or over
You will need to provide:
- A valid email address.
- Addresses of where you have lived for the last 3 years.
- Your National Insurance number.
- A valid UK passport number (if you want to change the licence photo).
The DVLA will send you a confirmation email once you’ve applied, and online licence applications take about 1 week to be processed.
Renew a driving licence at 70 by post
The DVLA reminder letter includes a copy of the D46P application form. Forms are also available from the local Post Office.
An application made by post can take up to 3 weeks to be processed.
Do I need to send a photo when renewing my driving licence?
Drivers with the ‘old style’ paper driving licence who apply online do not need to send an authorised photo (where a ‘professional person’ signs the back of the photo to confirm it is a true likeness) if they have a valid, in-date passport. If the passport has expired, the driver will need to supply an authorised photo.
If applying by post, an authorised photo must be included as part of the application.
How much does it cost to renew a driving licence?
Whilst there is usually a cost to renew a licence, at 70 there is no fee charged. Subsequent renewals every three years after turning 70 are also free of charge.
Can I continue driving after turning 70 if I apply?
As long as the application to renew a licence is submitted before the 70th birthday, driving is allowed to continue until a decision is made on the application. GOV.UK list the following points on their website as things to consider:
- you have the support of your doctor to continue driving
- you had a valid licence
- you only drive under the conditions of the previous licence
- your application is less than a year old
- your last licence wasn’t revoked or refused for medical reasons
- you’re not currently disqualified
- you weren’t disqualified as a high risk offender on or after 1 June 2013
What if I decide to stop driving?
Making a decision to stop driving can be very difficult, especially after years of indepence! However, there are alternatives available, and it doesn’t have to mean an end to personal freedoms.
The Age Space forums are a great place to chat to people who have had similar experiences.
The Older Drivers website even has a cost calculator for drivers considering retiring from driving.
Other useful resources
- Institute of Advanced Motorists
- Driving Mobility
- DVLA, Telephone: 0300 790 6801, Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm, Saturday, 8am to 2pm
- The RNIB
- Older Drivers
- Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)