A Woman driving a car

Lost, stolen or damaged driving licence? Here’s what to do

One of the worst things that could happen to an adult is perhaps losing their driving licence. Getting a driving license is possibly the one thing that we’ve all looked forward to obtaining while we were growing up – to our younger selves, it seemed like the ultimate prize of adulthood. 

However, in the UK, our driving licences are also one of the main forms of personal identification. More people rely on their licence than anything else for things that require photo identification within the borders of the United Kingdom. From opening a new bank account to voting in an election, you name it; your driving licence is most definitely used for it.

That’s why it is crucial to keep your licence details up-to-date, that includes the address on your driving licence. It’s even more important to update the address on your licence when you move home. This is key so that the DVLA is informed, and you’ll be able to continue using your driving licence as a form of identification.

With that said, it might be understandable to get extremely frustrated when you lose your driving licence – perhaps even causing you to panic. And fair enough! If someone has stolen your driving licence, they could use it for nefarious purposes.

So, what do you do when your driving licence has been lost, stolen or damaged?

Steps to take before reporting your lost driving licence

Man looking for a lost driving licence

As we’ve mentioned before, a stolen driver’s licence is a prime target for criminals seeking to commit identity theft. Before you know it, you may be thousands of Pounds in debt for something that you didn’t do or purchase – which is a situation that no one wants to be in!

While it’s absolutely understandable that you might want to go straight to the nearest police station (and it’s definitely something we agree with), there are a few things you need to do before reporting your lost driving licence.

The main goal here is to be absolutely sure – with 100 per cent certainty – that your licence is actually lost or stolen, rather than misplaced. But, if your driving licence is in any way, shape or form damaged, whether accidentally or purposely, you can skip these steps and move directly to the next section.

With that in mind, the first thing we suggest that you do is take a deep breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Panic is the worst emotion to feel when something as important as a driving licence is lost, so we suggest taking a moment to calm yourself before moving forward. Once you’ve found your calm, here are two steps you absolutely must take before reporting your lost driving licence:

Retrace your steps

Take a moment to think deeply – what have your movements been over the last 24 hours before the moment you realised that your licence is missing? If it helps, write it down on a piece of paper, your notebook or your phone, complete with a rough estimate of time. More likely than not, you’ve accidentally left whatever containing your licence somewhere around your house or at the office (if you still work at an office, that is!).

Once you’re absolutely sure of what you’ve been doing over the previous 24 hours, retrace them, slowly and thoroughly. If you’ve been to any cafes, restaurants or pubs, ask the staff if they’ve noticed that you left something behind the day before. Most establishments have a “lost and found”, where they keep things left behind by their customers for a certain amount of time before they dispose of them.

You might feel a bit embarrassed or shy to ask strangers (the staff) to help you out and might feel like jumping straight to replacing it is the simplest thing to do — don’t. If there is a chance that you’re able to recover your lost driving licence, you need to take the steps to get it back into your safe hands. Trust us; it’s a lot more embarrassing to have to report back to the DVLA that you’ve not actually lost your licence.

Ask your friends or family

If you still live with family or have friends and housemates, or if you were most recently with them before you lost your driving licence, send out a message to them asking if they’ve seen it (or the thing holding your licence, like a wallet or purse). Again, don’t be ashamed to ask – losing a driving licence happens to the best of us! 

Sometimes, people that you personally know may have actually come across it, but instead of telling you immediately, they put it off until later or the next time they see you. If that’s the case, don’t get mad at them! Just be glad that you’ve managed to get your licence back into your own hands and that you don’t have to go through the process of getting a replacement driving licence.

How to get a replacement driving licence

Once you’ve determined that your driving licence is definitely lost, you need to apply for a replacement. When it comes to anything related to driving, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is your point of contact – including replacing a lost, stolen or damaged driving licence.

Thankfully, much like most government-related services in the UK, the process is extremely straightforward and can be done in a number of ways. Just note that you can’t do this in person at a DVLA office! Depending on which method you choose, however, it can take anywhere between one to three weeks for your new licence to arrive after you’ve received a confirmation email from DVLA regarding your application.

Here are the three main ways you can apply for a replacement driving licence:

1. Online

Filling out the online form they provide in such cases is the quickest and easiest way to apply for a replacement driving licence. During the process, you’ll need to answer some questions and provide some personal data. In June 2015, the paper licence was officially phased out. So, please be aware that any new licences distributed in England, Scotland and Wales will be card only, and if you have an older licence that includes a paper counterpart, you won’t be receiving a new licence in paper form. 

Once you’ve clicked the “Submit” button, you’ll receive an email confirming your application. Then, your replacement driving licence should arrive within 7 days – so long as there isn’t a massive backlog of replacement licences or any issues with the Royal Post!

2. Phone

Do you much prefer doing things over the phone? Well, luckily for you, you can apply for a replacement driving licence over the phone too! So long as your personal information hasn’t changed, your licence isn’t damaged, and it has more than 56 days left until its expiration, you’ll be able to get a new licence this way. 

The DVLA can be reached at 0300 790 6801. Just ring the number up and follow the instructions!

3. Post

If you much prefer doing things the traditional way, you can replace your driving licence via post. When you’ve lost your driver’s licence and need to replace it, you can do so by submitting the Application for a Driving Licence (D1) form, which you can get from the DVLA’s online form ordering service or from most post offices in Britain. However, you need to request a D2 “Application for a lorry/bus licence” form from the DVLA’s online form ordering service if you instead need to replace a bus or lorry licence.

If you’re missing just one piece of your licence but have the rest (because it somehow broke into pieces or something!), mail your application and the pieces you have to the location indicated on the form, along with the appropriate fee. If your name has changed, whether through marriage or otherwise, you’ll also need to produce original documents to confirm this.

Applications submitted via post take the longest, so you may not receive a response for up to three weeks. So, if you need a replacement driving licence as soon as possible, we wouldn’t recommend using this method.

Before you apply for a new licence… 

Picture of a man driving

Regardless of which method you choose to apply for a replacement driving licence, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you send off your application request:

  • Make sure that all your details on the application form are accurate and up to date.

  • Be aware that the method of replacing your driver’s licence is different in Northern Ireland. Instead, contact NIdirect for licence replacements.

  • The driving licence is a sensitive document. So, be sure that you or someone you trust will be around when the new licence arrives in the post.

With either method, you don’t have to worry about providing a new photo for your licence, as the DVLA will use the photo you’re using for your passport instead. If the following conditions are met, the DVLA will use your passport photo to create your new driver’s licence:

  • Your driver’s licence will expire within two years.

  • You must enter your passport number to prove you are a British citizen and that your passport is valid.

  • You’ve given permission to the DVLA to use your passport photo (you’ll see a checkbox in the application form).

The DVLA will let you know if an acceptable digital photo is not available for them to use. If they don’t have a suitable one, you’ll get a form in the mail asking for a fresh photo to replace the one they already have on file. Through the UK photo driving licence renewal service, you may ensure that your driver’s licence photo is current.

Once you’ve sorted these things out, go ahead and press the button, pick up the phone or slip the application into the postbox! And then, all you have to do is have a little patience and wait for your new licence to arrive.



Although you might know how to get a replacement driving licence now, you may still have a number of questions. We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about lost driving licences with (hopefully) some very helpful answers!

How to apply for a replacement driving licence?

Getting a replacement driving licence is super easy in the UK – there’s no dingy office that you need to go to with long waiting times. Instead, there are three ways you can do this: by visiting the DVLA online portal, calling the DVLA on 0300 790 6801 or grabbing the D1 or D2 form to send via post. Then, you’ll need to wait for a confirmation email from the DVLA regarding your application, and your new licence should arrive within 1-3 weeks!

Can I still drive while I’m waiting for my new licence?

The short answer is… yes! However, there are a few caveats attached to driving in the UK without a licence that you definitely need to be aware of. Even if you’ve been driving for 50 years, these terms still apply, especially if you’ve lost your licence!

So, if you meet the following criteria, you’ll be able to still drive your car: 

  • You have applied for a new licence (very important!!!)

  • You are not currently disqualified from driving 

  • You have held a British licence issued since January 1976 (or another exchangeable licence)

  • You have not been refused a licence on medical grounds (consult your doctor if you are unsure about this)

  • You comply with any special conditions that apply to your licence.

How much is it to replace a lost driving licence?

Thankfully, it’s still relatively affordable to replace your driving licence – compared to the whole process of getting it in the first place, at least! Whenever you apply for a replacement licence in England, Scotland or Wales, look to pay £20, and a little more if you’re applying for a replacement licence via post (because stamps!).

However, if you’re applying for a replacement licence in Northern Ireland, you can look forward to being set back by £30. We’d recommend not making it a habit to lose your licence often, so make sure you keep your new licence safe! There are much better things in life to spend 20-30 quid on 🙂

How to report a lost driving licence?

When you’ve started the process of applying for a replacement driving licence, you’re essentially reporting to the DVLA that you’ve lost your licence. However, if you believe your licence has been stolen, you need to contact your local police as soon as possible! Don’t skip out on this step because it will help you ensure that you don’t fall victim to identity theft.

Essentially, the police won’t be aware that your (very important) piece of identification has been stolen unless you’ve informed them. Once you’ve made a report, the police will be able to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity relating to your personal information and keep you safe from identity theft.

What do I do if I’ve found my old licence after getting a replacement?

If you’ve skipped the tips we’ve outlined earlier and gone straight to applying for a new replacement driving licence, there is definitely a chance that you’d have found the old licence after applying. We get it. When people misplace their driver’s licence, they often request a replacement without thinking things through. 

If you’ve found your old licence, It is your responsibility to return it to the DVLA if you apply for a replacement – whether you’ve just applied or it’s been months since your new one arrived. However, don’t just mail in your old licence without also mentioning that you have gotten a replacement – leave a note in the envelope explaining the situation! Doing so will help avoid any unnecessary confusion or hassle, and most definitely any awkward phone calls from the DVLA.

What if I lost my provisional driving licence?

If you have misplaced your provisional licence, you must follow the same steps outlined above and pay the same £20 charge. You don’t need to tell the DVLA which type of licence you need replacing; they’ll already have your information in the systems.

Please keep in mind that if you have a scheduled theory or practical driving test, you will not be able to take the exam unless you have your temporary licence with you. In most cases, a substitute can be obtained within a week after an online application has been submitted, but if your scheduled exams are sooner than that, you will need to reschedule the exam. Sorry!

That’s definitely a little inconvenience, especially if you’ve been putting in a lot of time and effort to learn the material and get road-ready. So, the best protection is to never let your licence out of your sight!


If you lose your driver’s licence or provisional licence, it’s not the end of the world. But you should get a new one as quickly as possible. Obtaining a new licence in the United Kingdom can be done quickly and easily through the government’s online portal. The application process can also be completed via regular mail if applicants lack access to the internet.

Never assume that someone else hasn’t noticed your missing or stolen licence. Report it immediately to the police to stop identity theft from happening to you. Visit the Gov.uk website or call a DVLA representative at 0300 790 6801 if you need help with replacing a lost, stolen, or otherwise damaged driver’s licence.