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Understanding the UK Driving Licence

Curious about the intricacies of the UK driving licence? Well, you’ve landed in the perfect spot.

Aside from serving as a primary form of identification, the UK driving licence grants you the privilege to operate a car, along with specific categories of other vehicles. Yet, with its wealth of information, codes, and categories, you might find yourself seeking clarification on both the content displayed on the front of the driving licence and the significance of the details nestled on its reverse side. Fear not, as this guide is here to illuminate every detail.

Explaining the Front of the Driving Licence

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“`html Understanding the Front of the UK Driving Licence

Understanding the Front of the UK Driving Licence

The front of the driving licence displays a photograph of the licence holder with the licence expiry date printed on top, as well key information about them, and the types of vehicle their licence permits them to drive.

Each section on the front of a driving licence is numbered, with each number showing the following information:

  1. Your surname
  2. Your first name(s)
  3. Your date and country of birth
  4. a. The date your licence was issued
    b. The date your licence expires
    c. What agency issued your licence (usually DVLA)
  5. Your driving licence number*
  6. Although not numbered on the licence, your photograph is 6
  7. Your signature
  8. Your address
  9. The categories of vehicle you’re permitted to drive

*This is made up of the first five letters of your surname, your birth year, month and day, plus the letters two of your middle names begin with, with the number ‘9′ standing in if you only have one middle name. Note the two numbers that make up your birth year are split in two and bookend the long number, rather than being displayed sequentially. There are also three computer-assigned digits at the end, plus a separate pair of numbers on the same line that represent your licence issue number.

Key Information on the Front of the Driving Licence


Back of the driving licence explained


“`html Understanding the Back of the UK Driving Licence

Understanding the Back of the UK Driving Licence

A number of categories are displayed on the back of your driving licence, displayed in a table with four columns, labelled 9-12.

Column 9 shows the code and an image representing classes of vehicle.

Column 10 is the date from which your licence for that class of vehicle is valid.

Column 11 is the date from which your licence for that class of vehicle expires.

Column 12 shows driving licence codes – EG ‘115’ means organ donor.

What are Driving Licence Categories?

While the icons help you work out what vehicles you’re allowed to drive, they might not all be intuitively understandable.

What are Driving Licence Codes?

As detailed in the section before one, in addition to driving-licence categories there exist driving-licence codes.

These do not refer to vehicles, but rather certain conditions that can be placed on a person’s driving licence, for one or many of the class of vehicles they can drive. For example, a code might indicate you have to wear corrective glasses or lenses to drive, or that you are an organ donor.

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“`html UK Driving Licence Codes

UK Driving Licence Codes

Here is a list of driving licence codes as provided by the UK Gov website:

Code Description
01 Eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses
02 Hearing/communication aid

Driving Licence FAQs

Where is the driving licence number?
Your driving licence number can be found on the front of your photocard licence, under section 5.

Where is the issue number of a driving licence?
Your driving-licence issue number is on the same line as your licence number, with a slight space between the two numbers.

What type of driving licence do I have?
There are two main types of driving licence in the UK, full and provisional. A full licence will be pink and a provisional licence will be green, and clearly marked.

Are paper driving licences still valid?
If you have a paper driving licence that was issued before March 2000 and the information on it is still correct, it is still valid. If you need to change your name or address, a photocard licence will be issued to replace the paper one, though.

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