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Drivers Left Waiting 'Up To A Year' For DVLA Applications

Drivers Left Waiting 'Up To A Year' For DVLA Applications

Drivers are reporting waits of 'up to a year' for paper-based applications and renewals from the DVLA.

Frustrated drivers are reporting waits of up to a year for paper-based applications and renewals from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA), after delays due to covid and industrial strikes.

While some are chasing medical renewals, others are waiting on provisional licences and renewals for the over-70s. Those aged 70 and over are required to renew their driving licence every three years under current rules, but the huge backlog is causing 'stressful' delays for many elderly motorists.

In fact, figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph last week claimed 929,944 applications are currently waiting to be processed, of which 254,396 are older than 10 weeks.

The DVLA has said that vaccine booster rollouts - and medical checks being deprioritised and temporarily paused by the Royal College of GPs - has impacted processing times.

But to make matters more infuriating for drivers, simply getting in touch with the DVLA is proving to be 'impossible' for many. Despite the DVLA claiming their contact centre answered over 7 million queries in the year 2020-2021, many motorists have been struggling to get through on phone, email or social media.

Frustrated drivers are reporting waits of 'up to a year' for paper-based applications and renewals (

One woman - who wishes to remain anonymous - says the DVLA is 'affecting so many lives' after she waited over 15 months for her medical licence renewal.

Meanwhile, mum-of-three Tannice Hemming, 36, waited over a year for her licence to be renewed. Just last week, Tannice's case was resolved after first sending her application renewal in February 2021.

"My medical licence expired on 1st May 2021 and my renewal came through in the February - I actually filled it in and returned it the day it arrived," Tannice tells Tyla.

"I didn't hear anything for weeks and as it came closer to 1st May, I started getting concerned that my licence was going to expire. I rang the DVLA to find out if I would have to stop driving and they told me I could continue, as I was covered under Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988."

This allows motorists to continue driving even though they do not hold a current driving licence - as long as they meet a set of criteria. However, Section 88 is only valid until a driver's application is more than a year old.

"Months passed and I still hadn't received my licence," Tannice says. "I wanted to buy a new car but I couldn't even test drive it. February came around and I realised that my entitlement to continue driving expired on the 1st March, because my application had been there for a year.

"I was getting really stressed out about it, I didn't want to stop driving - I've got three small children to look after."

After reaching out to her local MP and emailing Head of Drivers Medical Group, Tim Burton, Tannice finally received a phone call from the DVLA last week. After much back and forth between her GP and the DVLA, she has now been granted a full licence.

Section 88 allows motorists to continue driving even though they do not hold a current driving licence (

Nellie Williams' daughter has faced similar problems after sending her medical licence renewal in autumn last year.

"My 23-year-old daughter has a medical condition called nystagmus [a vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements]. She has a medical licence which was due for renewal last October, so she received a letter in September," Nellie tells us.

"It couldn't be done online so she posted it back, but when her licence expiry date came around, she checked the website which said that nystagmus no longer needs to be reported to the DVLA.

"We had a discussion about whether she could drive under Section 88, but one of the conditions was that your doctor must have said you are fit to drive. My daughter hadn't spoke to the doctor because neither of them had had any correspondence from the DVLA.

"Eventually, she got a letter from the DVLA to say she could drive under Section 88."

After weeks of back and forth - and Nellie getting in touch with her local MP - the family finally had some progress and after a six month wait, received a full licence.

"While it isn't a medical licence, it expires after three years and we've had no explanation for that," Nellie tells us.

"Why if her condition isn't a condition does she need to be jumping through these hoops, and why does it take writing to your MP to get things moving?"

Katy, 32, has been trying to renew her provisional licence for weeks. She's received no updates on her application and says the DVLA are "basically uncontactable".

"I've been trying to renew my provisional license so that I can book my practical, but have not heard back on my application for over a month," she tells Tyla.

"The DVLA are basically uncontactable - they don't respond to emails and their phone lines appear to be completely down, every time I call I simply get cut off. I know it's not just me as there are countless people saying the same thing on Twitter, even though they're telling people to persevere with the phone lines.

"It's incredibly frustrating and the longer it goes on the longer I'll have to wait to book my test. There is literally no way to get in touch with them."

Some drivers are waiting for provisional licences (

Meanwhile, Beth, 34, is facing a similar frustrations. While she renewed her provisional licence online in November, she's heard nothing - apart from a confirmation email - since.

After numerous attempts to reach the DVLA via phone, email and chat, she says she has no idea if she's in a queue, or if her application has been lost. As a result, she doesn't know whether to reapply, despite having already paid the £20 fee.

"I kept calling and calling and every time I was unable to get through or the phone would cut off," she tells Tyla.

"I can't take my test without my provisional licence. I don't know where my application is, the tracking tool doesn't recognise my number, I don't know if it's lost in the post, I don't know anything. I don't know how long I'm expected to wait.

"It's stressing me out because I need to learn how to drive and I can't - it's putting my life on hold."

For some drivers, waiting months for their licence - and the return of their personal ID documents - is affecting other areas of their lives.

Several drivers have been desperately reaching out to the DVLA after waiting to have their passports returned.

"No one is answering any lines, DVLA has my dad's passport and license since November, we need it back urgently. Please can someone contact us urgently. We have an emergency and need the passport," said one on Twitter.

Many motorists are struggling to make contact with the DVLA (

Tyla reached out to the DVLA who said the majority of driver transactions should be back to normal in the spring. They have recruited more staff and opened new customer service centres to help with demand.

A spokesperson told us: “Our online services are working as normal as they have done throughout the pandemic, and we encourage customers to use these where possible.

“Paper transactions are being processed in around eight weeks, but more complex transactions – for example where medical investigations are needed – take longer. Such checks were understandably deprioritised by the NHS during the pandemic, impacting processing times.  

"The vast majority of people may be able to continue to drive whilst DVLA has their application provided they have not been told by their doctor they shouldn’t.

“Demand to speak to our contact centre is currently very high and our staff are working hard to answer queries, but there will be delays for customers who call.”

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News