My Driving Licence Hasn't Arrived Can I Still Drive?


My Driving Licence Hasn't Arrived Can I Still Drive?

5 min read

Important Disclaimer

At Cheap Airport Parking, although we make every effort to ensure the information we publish is correct, the information on this page is provided as a guide only. Nothing on this page should be considered to be legal advice and as the driver, you alone are responsible for abiding by the law.

For further information on this topic, view this PDF from the DVLA.

The Scenario....

You need to pop down the shops but your driving license has not arrived. You have applied to the DVLA to renew the license, but the license you're replacing expired whilst the renewal is being processed.

Now what? Where do you stand legally? Are you allowed to hop in the car to buy your mid-morning feast of chocolate, crisps, and Irn Bru, or is it time to call a taxi?

It’s a good question and an important one.

Read on to learn about your rights when you’re waiting for a driving license to come back.

DVLA Expired License

My Driving Licence Has Not Arrived, Can I Drive?

If you are waiting for a driving license application to finalise, and your license has expired, you may still be able to drive.

It all comes down to Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988.

Basically, you can continue to drive provided you meet the following requirements:

  • You do not have a diagnosed medical condition that prevents you from driving.
  • You meet all of the medical standards required of drivers in the United Kingdom.
  • You have previously held a valid driving license.
  • You have not been disqualified from driving.
  • Your previous license was not refused or revoked for medical reasons.
  • You will only drive vehicles that you were licensed to drive on a previous application and have included in your new application.
  • Your application has been received by the DVLA within the last year.
  • You meet any and all conditions specified on your previous license that still apply to your new license.
  • You were not classed as a high-risk offender and disqualified from driving after June 1st, 2013.

The onus is on you as a driver to check whether these criteria apply to you. The DVLA won’t give you a yes or no answer with regard to whether or not you can drive while you wait for your application. However, your doctor can help you with the medical stuff and everything else is pretty self-explanatory.

Why Has My Driving License Not Arrived Yet?

The DVLA has been a little slower than usual over the past couple of years. World events mean the agency has been inundated with licenses and hasn’t always had the staff or resources needed to process them. As a result, your application may take longer to process and you’ll need to be patient.

In most cases, online applications are processed in a few days. If you sent a paper application, you should expect to wait up to 2 weeks on average.

If your application is not straightforward and included some additional requirements or terms, such as licenses that include a medical condition, the waiting times are longer.

If you have waited longer than you should and it’s still not there, contact the DVLA. It’s not an easy process and you can expect a prolonged time on hold, but they can tell you what’s happening with your application.

Scroll down for information on how to contact the DVLA.

Can I Drive Without Applying for a New License?

If your license has expired, you are not allowed to drive unless you have submitted a complete application for a new driving license and meet the terms of Section 88.

If you are caught driving with an expired license, you could be fined up to £1,000. According to statistics from the DVLA, there are over 900,000 drivers on UK roads with expired licenses. All of these risk being fined up to £1,000.

Your insurance might not cover you either. If you are involved in a crash and you’re driving with an expired license (and without a complete application), your insurance may be invalidated.

Getting Help from the DVLA

If you’re not sure about something on your driving license application or need confirmation about something, contact the DVLA directly or visit the website for more info. You can find a complete list of driving topics here, and if you need to chat with someone, just dial 0300 790 6801.

The opening hours for the phone line are as follows:

  • Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
  • Saturday: 8am to 4pm
  • Sunday: Closed

There is a live chat feature as well. It’s not always reliable, but it’s an easy way to get in touch when it is active and working. The opening hours for live chat are:

  • Monday to Friday: 8am to 7pm
  • Saturday: 8am to 2pm
  • Sunday: Closed

Both the phone line and the live chat are closed on public holidays.

Other ways to get in touch with the DVLA:

  • Address: Driver Customer Services, Correspondence Team, DVLA, Swansea, SA6 7JL
  • Twitter: @DVLAgovuk
  • LinkedIn: Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • Instagram: @Dvlagov
  • Facebook: @DVLAGovUK
  • Email:

Summary: Can You Drive when Waiting for a Driving Licence to Come Back?

In short, yes, you can drive while you are waiting for your driving license application. However, this only applies if your full application has been received by the DVLA.

You must also meet all Section 88 criteria. Check the requirements listed above and contact your doctor or the DVLA if you need more information.


Still not sure how the above law applies and if you can drive when you’re waiting for a driving licence to come back? Here are some FAQs dealing with specific scenarios:

Can I drive in other countries while waiting for my driving license application in the UK?

Section 88 applies to the UK and not to other countries. There may be similar laws outside the UK, but you shouldn’t assume that is the case. If you’re not sure, check with the local licensing authority in your destination region. If you’re renting a car, you can also speak with the car rental company.

I could drive lorries/buses with my previous license. It expired and I am applying to drive a car. Where do I stand?

As above, if you meet the criteria of Section 88 and have submitted a complete application, you can drive a car. However, you won’t be able to drive a lorry or bus as the license allowing you to do so has expired.

To drive a lorry or bus again, you must reapply.

How do I know if I am fit to drive due to a medical condition?

If you’re not sure whether a pre-existing medical condition excludes you from driving, contact your doctor. Alternatively, if you know what the condition is, you can check the following guide on the Gov UK website: Assessing fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals.

Generally speaking, you may have issues if you have a medical condition that affects any of the following, all of which are listed as “safe driving requirements”:

  • Attention and concentration
  • Ability to self-monitor
  • Vision
  • Visuospatial perception
  • Sensation
  • Muscle power and control
  • Coordination
  • Memory
  • Insight and understanding
  • Judgement
  • Adaptive strategies
  • Good reaction time
  • Planning and organisation

Some of the medical conditions that may be excluded include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Angina
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Hypertension
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart failure
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Diabetes mellitus

There are criteria for each of these conditions (and many more) in the link provided. For instance, “anxiety and depression” are on the list, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t drive if you have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. If you look under the criteria for this condition, you’ll see that it only applies to “Significant memory or concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance or suicidal thoughts”.

I am over 70 and waiting for a renewal, can I drive?

You can drive as soon as the DVLA receives your full and accurate application, assuming you meet the criteria of Section 88. If you suspect that a new or existing medical condition will prevent you from driving, speak with your doctor or check the link posted above.

I lost my license for medical reasons, am I allowed to drive?

No, not until you have been cleared to drive by the DVLA and have received a new driving license that allows you to get back on the road.

Can I drive while waiting for a provisional license?

You must be in possession of a provisional license before you can drive a vehicle covered by that license.

Can I drive while waiting for my driving license after the end of a ban?

Yes, assuming you have been declared fit to drive and you meet the criteria listed under Section 88.

Banned drivers are allowed to apply for a new license up to 90 days before the expiration of the ban. However, delays mean that you could be without a license even after that period has expired, so it’s handy to know that you can still drive under the right circumstances.

I surrendered my license voluntarily and applied for a new one, can I drive?

Yes. If you meet the Section 88 criteria, you are able to drive when the DVLA receives your application. It really depends on your personal circumstances and the reasons you surrendered your application.

For instance, if you wanted to take some time off due to a medical condition and a doctor’s recommendation, you may need to wait a little longer until the condition has cleared up.