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The History Of Driver Licences – DVLA

driver working on a document

As part of my research into Driver Licence verification I came across some very interesting facts about the history of driver licences and how they have developed.

In 1903 Driver registration was introduced as part of the Motor Car Act. It stipulated that holders of a sulphur-yellow document were allowed to ‘drive a motor car or motor cycle’. Interestingly the regulation changed in 1930 so the document would list precisely which ‘class’ vehicle an individual could drive. This is what forms the category section on the back of the UK DVLA driver licence currently.
In 1934 as part of the Motor Vehicles Regulations 1935 competency tests were introduced.
Interesting fact: Due to the Second World War driver competency tests were suspended for 7 years from 1939.
Up until 1973 driving licences and tax discs were issued by Local Authorities and had to be renewed every three years. In 1971 it was agreed that the licencing system should be centralised so it gave the ability to link to the Police National Computer and extend the expiry of a licence until the individuals 70th birthday. This saw the birth of its Swansea headquarters that is still the case today.

Depending on your age you may remember that up until July 1998 driving licences outside Northern Ireland did not have photographs. Thankfully anyone who holds a licence issued before this date can keep the licence until its expiry (normally their 70th birthday). In addition to the new photo card licence, individuals also hold a paper counterpart which includes mention of driving entitlements and convictions.
Interesting fact: The Queen is the only person in the UK who is not required to have a driving licence. She also does not require number plates on any vehicles which are personally owned by herself or her closest family members!
As part of the Government’s drive to bring services online the counterpart licence was due to be phased out however this has now been postponed until 8th June 2015.
If you have any questions about DVLA driving licences don’t hesitate to contact our helpful team.
Thank you for reading,

George Griffiths

Director of Sales and Marketing

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