Who are the DVLA?

You’ve probably come across several acronyms when looking at cars. From FCA to IAM to DVLA, the list of acronyms is endless.

We’ve covered who the FCA are, and what IAM stands for, but what about DVLA?

In this article, we’re going to look at who the DVLA are, what they do, and why you might need to contact them.

Who are the DVLA?

The DVLA are the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency. They are an official government body and hold all the driver records. That means that everyone who drives a car in this country is on the DVLA. That’s 45 million driver records and 39 million vehicle records.

The DVLA essentially maintain the registration of vehicles and licencing of drivers in Great Britain. It also collects your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). So all drivers and all vehicles are kept on record on the DVLA database.

What do the DVLA do?

So it’s another government department. What do the DVLA actually do?

Well, the DVLA are responsible for;

  • Issuing driving licences
  • Issuing vehicle registration certificates to vehicle keepers
  • Recording driver endorsements, disqualifications and medical conditions
  • Taking action against vehicle tax evaders
  • Selling personalised registration plates (more on that later)
  • Helping the police
  • Registering and issuing tachograph cards
  • Providing anonymised data to those who have a right to the service

That’s according to the government website, anyway. Essentially, the DVLA are responsible for everything driving related, including issuing your licence to making sure you pay your vehicle tax.

Why might I need to use the DVLA?

There are loads of scenarios in which you might want to use the DVLA services. These include; 

  • Changing your address
  • Applying for a new driving licence
  • Booking your theory and practical driving tests
  • Taxing your vehicle  
  • Registering health or medical conditions
  • Registering number plates

We’ll go into more detail about these below. But those are some of the main reasons why you would need to use the DVLA and the services they offer.

How do I change the address on my driving licence?

If you have moved, you need to ensure that your driving licence, vehicle log book and vehicle tax are up to date. This includes if you are going to university and are only moving temporarily. If you pay for your vehicle tax by direct debit then you will need to change the billing address.

If you do not change your address, you can be fined up to £1,000. It doesn’t cost anything to update this information and it only takes five minutes online. You can head to this page here for how to do it.

How do I apply for a new driving licence?

Whether you need to apply for a provisional licence or a new full driving licence, you can do so through the DVLA website.

If you have just passed your driving test then your examiner will send off your test certificate to the DVLA and they will send you a new licence within three weeks. So normally, you won’t have to do anything. Your examiner will do it for you.

However, if you need to change your name or address or you have a paper provisional then you will have to;

  • Fill in the declaration on your pass certificate
  • Fill in an application for a driving licence form (you can get this at some Post Offices or order one at the DVLA website. )
  • Provide documents confirming your identity
  • Provide a passport photograph

For more information, you can click here.

If you want to apply for your first ever provisional, then you can do the process online here.

How do I tax my vehicle?

If you need to tax your vehicle, then you can do this online, at the Post Office or by phone. It should be noted, You can’t pay by direct debit over the phone.

You will need your reference number. This can be found either;


  • On a recent reminder or ‘last chance’ warning letter from the DVLA
  • Your vehicle log book (V5C)
  • The green ‘new keeper’s details’ slip from a log book if you have just bought the car.


If you are taxing your car through the Post Office then you will also need the payment and your bank details. You will also need your log book or your ‘new keeper’s details’ slip. You may also need your MOT test certificate. Not all Post Offices deal with vehicle tax. So double check that the Post Office you are intending to go to deals with vehicle tax.

To do it online then you can head here.

How do I register a medical condition?

If you have a medical condition that could affect your driving then you must tell the DVLA. If you do not, then you could be fined £1000. If you’re involved in an accident as a result then you could be prosecuted. To find out if you need to tell the DVLA about a health condition you can go here.

You can report some conditions online here. These include diabetes, epilepsy and conditions that affect your vision. However, all other conditions must be reported by post.

How do I register a licence plate?

The DVLA also do personalised licence plates. These are plates that you select from pre-existing designs to put on your car. However, you will also have to register this licence plate with the DVLA. This is a pretty straightforward process. You will need a certificate number from either; 

  • The online service to take a registration number off a vehicle
  • A V750 certificate of entitlement or V778 retention document.

You can find out more about the process here.

We also recommend that you buy your private plate from the DVLA website. It only costs £80 and there are no hidden fees which you may find with some third party buyers.

It is vital that you register your licence plate with the DVLA as they need that information on their database.

If you have a lease car and you want to put a private plate on your lease car then this is possible. For more information, you can read our article on adding a private plate to your lease car.

So hopefully this has given you an idea of what the DVLA does. They are a government body and have every car and every driver on Great Britain’s roads on a database. You will need to contact them if you change your address, have a medical condition, or need to tax your vehicle. Essentially, anything to do with your vehicle you will probably have to go through the DVLA. However, if there is anything that you are unsure about, such as whether you need to contact the DVLA about something, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to help.

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