When you lose your photocard driving licence, you might not have another way to access your unique driving licence number. Since paper counterpart licences have been phased out, the only place most people have their number written down is on the front of their licence card. Losing your card means you could find yourself in a tricky situation if and when you need to provide this number.
Fortunately, if you need to get your driving licence number when your card is lost, there’s a way to find it online. In this post, we’ll cover:
- Where to find your driving licence number
- Reasons why you might need to know it
- How to get your DL number if you can’t access your card
- What you need to do to replace your lost or stolen photocard
What is my driver number?
Your driving licence (DL) number has 16 digits and is unique to you. You can find it either on your pink driving licence photocard or your green provisional licence photocard.
The number will probably be the same on every UK driving licence you have during your life. It doesn’t change once you pass your test and, if you need to replace your photocard, the number on your new licence will be the same as on your old licence.
The only time you might get a new number is when you change your surname, for example, if you decide to change your name when you get married.
How do I find my driving licence number?
Your DL number is on the front (photo side) of your licence. You can find it on line five, under your name, date of birth, and the licence’s expiry date, but above your signature.
As long as you can provide some further information like your National Insurance (NI) number, you can also get your driving licence number online or by calling the DVLA or the DVA in Northern Ireland.
When do you need your driving licence number?
If you’re using your driving licence as ID — for example, when travelling or opening a bank account — you might need to enter your driving licence number into a form. There are also two other common scenarios where you might be asked for your 16-character code.
If you need to check your driving record
You might need to know the most up-to-date information in your driving record if:
- You want to know what categories of vehicle you’re allowed to drive (for example, if you’re applying for a job where you have to drive a van or minibus)
- You want to know how many penalty points you have on your licence
- You’ve been disqualified from driving and you want to know when you’ll be allowed to get behind the wheel again
If you need to share your driving record with someone else
You’ll also need to access your driving record when you want to hire a car or when you apply for car insurance, so you can show a company that you’re a responsible driver and get an accurate quote.
To share your record, you need to generate a driving licence check code to send to the car hire or insurance company. Each code can only be used once and is valid for 21 days, but you can have up to 15 active check codes at any time if you want to compare quotes from different places.
The easiest way to access your driving record or get a check code is by entering your licence number and date of birth on the government’s driving licence information website. You’ll be able to see all this information in your personalised portal.
But what if you’ve lost your card, and you don’t have access to your driving licence number? How can you hire a car, switch insurance providers, or prove your identity without it?
How to find your licence number without your card
Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to get your DL number when you can’t access your card, but it’s really important to remember that if you lose your photocard licence or if it’s stolen, you have to report this to the DVLA and apply for a replacement as soon as possible.
While you’re waiting for your replacement photocard to arrive, here’s what to do.
Hit “Start” on the driving licence information section of gov.uk and identify yourself by providing the following details:
- Your name
- Your postcode
- Your gender
- Your date of birth
- Your NI number (which you can find on your NI card and your payslips)
You’ll then be able to see all the information on your driving record, including your licence number.
You’ll also be able to generate check codes without your photocard but, since most car hire companies will want to see your physical licence before they let you rent a car, it’s still very important to get your licence replaced as soon as you can.
What to do if you lose your driving licence
If your licence is stolen, it’s important to report it to the police as well as the DVLA. This is because it’s a secure document that could be used fraudulently.
You can contact the DVLA by phone, email, or post (using forms from the post office) to find out your DL number and request a new card. It costs £20 to get a replacement for a lost, stolen, or damaged photocard. This can be paid online with a debit or credit card.
As long as you’re a UK or Northern Ireland resident with a current licence, you can provide information about your addresses over the last three years, and your NI or passport number, to prove your identity so a new card can be issued.
Depending on how much time was left on your licence before it was lost, you may also need to provide a photo for your new card.
Remember that the DVLA or DVA can only send a new photocard driving licence to the last address they have on record for you. This means that it’s important to keep them informed of any changes to your details before you encounter a problem like a lost licence. If you don’t keep your driving licence up to date with information about your name, address, and medical conditions, you can be fined up to £1,000.
Can I drive if my licence is lost?
It is legal to drive in the UK if your photocard licence is lost, but you should be able to prove that you’ve already applied for a new one.
For example, if you’re pulled over, you have seven days to provide proof of licence to the police. If this happens while you don’t have access to a photocard, you should be able to send confirmation from the DVLA that they’ve received your application for a new one.
It can take around three weeks for a replacement licence to arrive, and sometimes longer if you make a postal application or if you have to provide further information like a new photo.
How to get a driving licence number if your card is lost: final thoughts
Losing your driving licence isn’t the end of the world, as it’s relatively simple and affordable to apply for a replacement. You will also be able to find out your driver number online while you wait for a new card, for example, if you need to renew your car insurance or contact a car hire company while you wait.
However, since you’ll also need to provide a copy of your photocard to complete your car hire paperwork or open a new insurance policy, having a valid photocard at all times is vital.
A few FAQs
How can I find my driving licence number online for free?
Anyone can check their UK driving licence number for free online by going to the UK government’s View or Share Your Driving Licence Number information page. You’ll need to provide some personal details, including your NI number, but the service is free to use and you’ll get your answer instantly.
Can I find out someone else’s driving record?
Legally, you must have someone’s permission before you search for sensitive information like their driving licence number or their driving record. The official portal for checking someone’s driving record needs both the person’s driving licence number and a check code that they’ve given you before you can access their information.
How do I find my National Insurance number?
Everyone in the UK receives a NI number before they turn 16, historically on a plastic card. If you lose your card, you’ll probably find your NI number on your payslips or on other HMRC documents like your P60 or a P45. You can also contact HMRC if you have a question about your NI number, but since NI cards are being phased out, you won’t get a replacement card.
When does my driving licence expire in the UK?
A full UK driving licence is valid for 10 years and has the expiry date printed on the photocard. You’ll need to apply for a new photocard before your old one runs out. Provisional driving licences are only valid for three years, or until you pass your test.