What do you need to declare to the DVLA?

Whether you’ve been living in the UK or abroad, driving is something many of us do on a daily basis and can often be taken for granted. In fact, since passing our driving test all those years ago we may never have given our hard-earned driving licence a second thought. However, if you’re an expat moving back to the UK, then it might be time to pay a little more attention.

From worsening eyesight and new medical conditions to a change of name or gender, there are many matters you might need to declare to the UK’s DVLA. Indeed, failing to tell the DVLA could result in a hefty fine. Read our Insurance Factory guide to this tricky area and get things sorted now before you find yourself in a jam.
Being upfront with information is often the best policy in life.

Whether dealing with the DVLA or applying for expat car insurance things are so much simpler if you are open and honest from the start. Call our experienced team of insurance professionals today and get on the road to better expat car insurance.
Who are the DVLA?

Even if you left the UK many years ago, we’re sure you’re well aware of the DVLA, what it does and what it knows about you. However, if you’re in need of a refresher, here you go!

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is the agency tasked by the UK government with keeping a record of all the many millions of drivers and vehicles on UK roads. It’s also responsible for collecting around £6 billion a year in vehicle excise duty. With such a vast database to keep track of, the DVLA relies on drivers and vehicle owners to update information as and when it changes.

It has two separate registers of information – one for drivers and one for vehicles. But for the purposes of this article, we’re most interested in the one for drivers.

The driver register contains every driver’s name, address, date of birth, photograph, entitlements to drive, penalty points (endorsements) and disqualifications, convictions and conviction dates, and any relevant medical details.

As you can imagine, with so many millions of drivers there’s a mind-boggling amount of information here that can change over the years. And if you don’t declare changes to the DVLA then you could be facing a £1,000 fine.

Apart from all the information contained in your driver record, the DVLA also takes care of a massive vehicle
register. This register is used to identify vehicles, help with police work, collect vehicle tax and maintain road safety. Being able to identify the registered keeper of every vehicle is a vital part of the DVLA’s purpose.

For more details on what information the DVLA holds about you, who the information is shared with, and how you can get to see it then read this informative guide elsewhere on our site.

With so much on its plate, it’s no wonder there are some hefty penalties for those who make their job even harder. You could be putting yourself and other drivers at risk for failing to disclose this information.
Remember, you’ll also need to tell your expat car insurance provider, too. If you don’t then it could cause problems for your cover and you might even face higher premiums.

And as new laws are announced and changes to the Highway Code come into play, we take a look at other changes that could catch you out. So, what might you need to tell the DVLA about?


1.Changing your address

If you’re moving back to the UK and your address is different to that on your driving licence then you’ll need to declare this to the DVLA. Fortunately, you can still drive using your current licence while you wait for your new documents to be sent to you.

You’ll find straightforward step-by-step instructions on the government website for changing the address on your driving licence. At the same time, and if necessary, you’ll also want to update some further information including:
If it’s just a temporary move and the DVLA can still contact you at the permanent address they have on file, then you don’t need to tell them.

2.Changing your vehicle

When you’re working your way through a lengthy to-do list for your move back to the UK it’s all too easy to miss something off. If you’ve sold or transferred a previous vehicle or bought a new one then you’ll need to inform the DVLA. Fortunately the DVLA launched an online service back in 2015 to make it easier to do this than ever before.

The service is available between 7am and 7pm, every day of the week. By using the online service, the DVLA’s database is updated immediately. Better yet, you get instant confirmation by email without having to send any documents in the post.

You’ll also automatically receive a refund for any full remaining months of vehicle tax. This will be sent to the address on your vehicle’s log book. That’s one of the many reasons why updating your address details is so important. You don’t want to be left out of pocket!

By notifying the DVLA online any direct debit you’ve set up for your vehicle tax will also be cancelled.
To do so, you need the 11-digit document reference number from your vehicle log book. Then go to the online service and follow the prompts. Remember to give the full name and address of the new keeper. And give the new keeper the green ‘new keeper’ slip (V5C/2) so they can tax the vehicle. It really is that simple!

If you sell your vehicle to a motor trader or garage then they will probably inform the DVLA for you. But you can do this yourself if you prefer, just to make sure.

3.If your vehicle has been scrapped or written off

The great thing is that you can also use the DVLA’s online service to tell the DVLA about the scrapping of a vehicle or any insurance write-offs.

Be aware that just because a vehicle is registered abroad, it doesn’t mean you can do with it as you please. If you want to scrap it then there are still strict requirements about how you do so.

You must first take it to an authorised treatment facility (ATF). After scrapping you’ll get a ‘Certificate of Destruction’ to prove the vehicle has been destroyed. It’s then your responsibility to inform the authorities in the country where the vehicle is registered that it’s been scrapped.

4.If you’re no longer using your vehicle

Moving back to the UK can involve a great deal of changes in your life. It might be that you decide to stop
using your car for a while. You might not want to sell it just yet, but that doesn’t mean you still need to pay to keep it on the road.

By declaring to the DVLA that you’re no longer driving your vehicle, it will be registered as off the road. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘Statutory Off Road Notification’ (SORN).

Again, to do this you’ll need the all-important 11-digit number on your vehicle log book.

You’ll then receive a refund for any full months of remaining tax. However, once a vehicle is registered as SORN it cannot be used on the road until you tax it again. So, make sure you’re certain you want to do this before going through the effort.

5.Changing medical conditions

From agoraphobia and Alzheimer’s to vertigo and visual impairments, there’s a long list of health conditions that could need to be disclosed to the DVLA by sufferers. Your health may have changed a lot since you were last driving in the UK and it’s important any changes likely to affect your driving are flagged to the DVLA.

If you’re wondering precisely what health conditions can affect your driving, read through this handy online guide to help you out.

If you have any health condition at all then it’s well worth checking the government list to see if you need to report your condition. You can also find the appropriate DVLA form or questionnaire for your condition for you to complete.

Once you’ve done this the DVLA will assess your medical condition and decide if:
  • You need to get a new driving licence.
  • Your licence needs to be shortened to one, two, three or five years.
  • You need to add special controls to your car.
  • You must stop driving and give up your licence.

The consequences for not doing so can be serious. A fine of £1,000 could be heading your way. And if you’re involved in an accident as a result of your condition then you could be prosecuted.

It isn’t just the authorities you need to be worried about. A claim on your expat car insurance could be refused if it turns out you have an undisclosed medical condition.

Some of the most common conditions that could potentially need to be disclosed include:
  • Epilepsy – A seizure while driving obviously needs to be avoided at all cost. But while everyone with epilepsy must inform the DVLA of their condition, this doesn’t mean they’ll never be allowed to drive again. For example, in some cases, if it was your first seizure then you may be allowed to drive six months later. Epilepsy Action has plenty of helpful information on driving and epilepsy.
  • Blackouts, fainting, loss of consciousness – A common occurrence that may have no affect on your ability to keep driving. But depending on how often it happens you’ll need to speak to your doctor and you may need to tell the DVLA.
  • Diabetes – Again just because you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes it doesn’t mean you’ll have to tell the DVLA. It really depends on how your condition is being treated and whether you develop diabetes complications making it harder for you to drive. These complications could include things like problems with your eyes (retinopathy) or nerve damage (neuropathy). Go to Diabetes UK to find out more.
  • Neurological conditions – Dementia, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke and a host of other conditions affecting your nervous system can all affect your ability to drive safely. You’ll need to discuss driving with your doctor and will probably need to inform the DVLA.
  • Heart or circulatory conditions – According to the British Heart Foundation, few drivers have to give up driving altogether because of these conditions. But you’ll still need to speak to your doctor and might need to inform the DVLA of your condition.
If a condition or disability has got worse since you got your licence, then it’s also important to inform the DVLA.

Remember to tell your expat car insurance provider about any changes to your health situation, to ensure you're still covered in the event of an accident.

6.Change of name or gender

Perhaps you’ve got married or changed your name since leaving the UK? Or maybe you’ve changed gender. A lot can happen to make our registered details out of date. And if your details don’t match up then you could be breaking the law.

Simply send DVLA your old driving licence along with the right application form and any supporting documents to change your name or gender. You’ll then be sent a new licence. And you can still drive while you wait for your new documents. The process is free of charge.

It might also be a good opportunity to change your photo at the same time.

7.Noticeable changes to your eyesight

As we all know there are strict driving laws in place that determine the eyesight standards for drivers. Tests are designed to ensure all drivers are safe on the roads.

Vision is clearly vitally important to safe driving. So, to meet the minimum eyesight standards for driving, you must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres away and have an adequate field of vision. You can wear your glasses or contact lenses if necessary. Find out more about the legal requirements on the government’s website now.

Visual impairments that could affect your ability to drive include:
  • Cataracts – Cataracts can affect one or both eyes and result in the lens becoming opaque and causing blurred vision. Depending on the progression of the cataracts this might not impact your driving for some time. Fortunately, corrective surgery is available and could make driving possible again.
  • Age-related macular degeneration – One of the leading causes of sight loss in older people. It can distort vision and make objects appear blurred. It may cause difficulty in reading road signs and seeing pedestrians or other obstacles.
  • Glaucoma – If left untreated this condition can cause irreversible sight loss and even blindness. But if you’re diagnosed early and follow the advice of your doctor it may never affect your driving. Indeed, according to Glaucoma UK, only 12% of people with glaucoma lose their driving licence.

If you’ve been living abroad for a number of years, then you may well have found your eyesight has deteriorated. Contrary to what some people believe, simply telling the DVLA about this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forced to give up your licence.

But it’s an important legal obligation and your expat car insurance might not cover you if you find yourself involved in a traffic accident and you haven’t declared it.

Whatever your age, if you’re coming back to the UK, you need to be aware that things may have changed since you were last here. Reading the latest news articles on sites like ours will mean you have the most up-to-date information to allow you to make informed decisions.


Checking whether DVLA information is up to date

It’s always well worth checking with the DVLA to see whether the information they hold about you is up to date. To do this you’ll want to use the DVLA’s ‘View or share your driving licence information’ service.

This helpful service performs several important functions:
  • You can view your current driving record. For example, you can check your registered name, gender, and address as well as finding out which types of vehicles you’re entitled to drive.
  • Check any penalty points or disqualifications you have.
  • Create a licence ‘check code’ to share your driving record with an insurer, employer or car hire company.
To use the service you’ll just need three things:
  1. Your driving licence number.
  2. Your National Insurance number.
  3. The postcode on your driving licence.
You can also check online the information the DVLA holds about your current vehicle. Although you must write to DVLA to request information about the current or previous registered keeper of a vehicle.

Can I drive in the UK after the age of 70?

Something that many expats will eventually have to deal with is what to do when they reach their 70th birthday. You won’t need to declare this to the DVLA, they’ll know already. But if you’re over 70 and want to keep on driving, you will have to renew your driving licence. Age UK has lots of great information explaining how to go about doing this, and tips on keeping you safely on the road in later life.

Getting older can bring lots of challenges. For example, you might be worried about whether the premiums on your expat car insurance will change. By finding cover through a specialist like Insurance Factory, you can be sure you’re getting the right level of cover at the right price for you.

Get a quote from Insurance Factory today

If you’re coming home after living abroad for many years, there will be certain things you need to do. Insurance Factory is here to help you get back on track when it comes to your expat car insurance.

Our expat car insurance policies are designed specifically for UK residents returning to the UK.

At Insurance Factory we’re confident we can find you a policy to suit you and your driving needs. Benefits of our policies include:
  • Specialist cover for expats returning from most EU and Commonwealth countries
  • Comprehensive cover
  • Tailored policies to meet your requirements
  • Flexible payment options
Get a quick quote for expat car insurance today.