Sunday, August 02, 2009

Licence to drive

I have misplaced my UK driver's licence. I'd kept the original slip of paper (because that's all it was - not even a photo on it) safe for almost 30 years, and then sometime in the last 2 years I lost it. Given that I don't live in the UK anymore and I don't even need my licence when I'm over there as my US one is good for 12 months, it doesn't really matter, except that it's a link to the United Kingdom I wasn't planning on giving up. It looks as though I'll have to though, as I can't get a replacement.

The DVLC (oops - apparently they changed the name to DVLA - wonder how many millions that identity change cost?) has some useful tools on their website that make it relatively easy in most cases to replace a lost licence, or change your name or address. If the name on my licence matched the name on my passport, the DVLA could pull my digital photo from my UK passport file and issue me with a new photo licence. (Actually, that's a little scary that their databases are linked like that - I'm not sure that I trust the UK government with my personal data!) Unfortunately, I never got my name changed on my licence when I got married. Plus there's the small matter of not actually being resident in the UK any more.

Whether I fill out the form for a lost licence plus change of name online or on paper, you have to swear that you are a UK resident. I'm not and I'm not willing to risk the (something like) £4,000 fine if I get caught lying! Given that technically it doesn't actually expire for at least 20 years, I've got plenty of time to replace my licence if I ever do actually move back to the UK. Heck, I could even take the test again - after all I passed first time (unlike almost all of my friends!)


Stella Jones said...

Have you taken American citizenship now, then? If so, I suppose that makes you American, doesn't it. I think you are right about having to live here for it to qualify. I suppose you don't have an address here anymore? Tricky business isn't it. I have been through this too and I sympathise. It isn't easy to do it right. I would say it was easier to do it wrong!
Blessings, Star

Almost American said...

Yes Star, I've taken American citizenship, but not renounced my British citizenship. Both countries allow dual nationality so long as one nationality doesn't interfere with any obligations you have to the other.

I do have an address that I suppose I could use in the UK (the one that was on my licence) but for now I'm going to be honest (and hope that the licence will show up somewhere in the house!)

nappy valley girl said...

Ooh, I'm glad I read this. I didn't change my name when I married either, and I was planning to change it now, because it's such a hassle not being able to use it as ID here. But sounds like I can't until I am living back in the UK?

Almost American said...

@NVG - having one name on one set of documents and another name on other papers has been a real pain. I do not recommend it! I should have gone ahead and changed it on all of them at the same time - the thing that stopped me was having to deal with INS. In order to change my name on my British passport, I the name on my green card had to match. When we got married I didn't have long to go until I was eligible for US citizenship and I really couldn't be arsed dealing with immigration and getting my name changed on my green card, only to have to deal with them all over again a few months later for citizenship . . . Plus, my British passport had 3 more years to run and I was too cheap to get it renewed just to change my name, so I decided to leave the passport and green card names alone. I wasn't even thinking about the UK driving licence . . . At this point both passports have my married name, which means I can use my British passport to enter and leave the UK again and have the name on my passport match the name on my ticket. If I'd changed the name on my licence though, I could have replaced it now without the DVLA being any the wiser to the fact that I'm not actually in the country, but now it's a whole song and dance . . . (Tho you'd think if the BBC website can be set up to stop you viewing videos because you're not in the UK, the DVLA site could do the same - but they haven't!)

It's killing me - my licence HAS to be somewhere in my house! I know which purse it was in but I can't find it! My UK bank card was in it too, and my library card (though that's no great loss!)

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