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Driving Licences: Applications

Question for Department for Transport

UIN HL2506, tabled on 7 September 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how long are the current delays in the supply of new and renewed driving licences, (2) what steps they plan to take to tackle these delays, and (3) what assessment they have made of the impact the delays are having on the existing shortages of drivers in key occupations.

Answered on

15 September 2021

The quickest and easiest way to make an application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is by using its extensive suite of online services. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day and industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union has led to delays for customers. Throughout the pandemic DVLA has been working with a significantly reduced number of staff on site to ensure social distancing in line with Welsh Government requirements. The current increased demand for the DVLA’s services has also contributed to delays with paper applications.

Paper driving licence applications are currently taking between six and ten weeks to process. There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example if medical investigations are needed. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found on GOV.UK.

The DVLA continues to explore opportunities to reduce turnaround times and has been developing additional new online services and recruiting additional staff. The DVLA is exploring the possibility of securing extra office space to accommodate more staff to work predominantly on driver’s medical casework and queries. This will be surge capacity accommodation and resource to help reduce backlogs while providing future resilience and business continuity.

To help address the HGV driver shortages, my department launched a consultation which ended on 7 September 2021. The proposals include streamlining the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and increasing lorry test appointment availability. The DVLA is also prioritising driving licence applications from HGV drivers to reduce impacts on the transport sector specifically.

The haulage industry is vital to the UK economy and the Government is committed to supporting the industry by helping to ensure that it can recruit the drivers it needs and get these drivers on the road as soon as possible.