Vocational Licence Renewal

By guest blogger Chris Butterfield

Bus expert Chris was and still is a bus driver who became a transport solicitor and lecturer before his retirement

It’s that time of year – for me, anyway.  Any reader over 65 who holds a vocational licence will have the same experience: an annual invitation from Swansea to renew his or her licence.  DVLA plans to send out a reminder 56 days before expiry of the existing licence.  And in my experience, it acts quite promptly: about 7 weeks before my licence runs out, I can expect to receive the brown envelope. 


Two forms arrive: D47P headed Renewal of your lorry and bus driving licence/entitlement and D4 Medical examination report.  So this is the cue to book a doctor’s appointment.  Or is it?


In fact you should start long before that. It was about 3 months before my licence expired that I telephoned for an appointment.  An apologetic voice told me they were fully booked for the next month, but that was no problem – I had plenty of time.  I downloaded and printed form D4 and my medical was duly completed over a week before I heard from DVLA.  You cannot download form D47P, but I completed that and posted it with my form D4 on the day it arrived.  And my new licence was issued a fortnight before the existing one was due to expire.


A friend who had to renew his HGV entitlement at the same time had a less happy experience.  He waited until both forms arrived and then set about getting a doctor’s appointment.  The earliest available date was 3 days after his licence expired, so he was unable to drive for that period.  It is possible to drive while a licence renewal is pending, but only if an application has been sent to and received by DVLA and if there are no medical obstacles to renewal. The full rules are set out in DVLA leaflet INF 188/6.


The moral is clear.  Start the renewal process well in advance.  The medical report is valid for 4 months, so there is no harm in seeing a doctor many weeks before your licence expires.  And if you have some medical history that means you have to go to your own doctor this is particularly important, as you will have to fit in with his or her available appointments.  You won’t have the option of going to one of the doctors who specialise in vocational licence medicals and who might be able to fit you in sooner.


I was fortunate in getting my new licence swiftly.  A colleague who posted his forms 3 weeks before I posted mine was still waiting a week after my licence arrived.  There is a website (at any rate it is still live at the time of writing) to check on the progress of applications.  It is entitled DVLA Coronavirus (Covid 19) update and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/dvla-coronavirus-covid-19-update. Select Where’s my application from the contents list and you will see the order in which applications are being processed.  It seems clear that vocational licence renewals are being given priority.

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