After weeks of trying to access its dysfunctional website, I took my driving licence to the Post Office where an employee took my photo, my payment and also my licence, which she snipped into pieces and discarded. It had not expired yet but was about to.
That was in late May, about ten days before the DVLA retroactively extended the validity of all licences as of 1 February 2020. With SEVEN MONTHS!
It later amended this information and added that it was implementing this automatic extension because of the EU. The UK left the EU at the beginning of the year.
In July, I was still without licence and I enquired at the Post Office. I was told that the DVLA was handling March applications at the time and that it would take a very long time for my licence to arrive. I figured that it would take about four months, then.
There is no way to contact the DVLA, which stubbornly refused to acknowledge any difficulties for months.
(At least now, its voice mail acknowledges that they’re having issues and that there is nothing they can do for us. We must wait patiently.)
At some point, I was able to access a part of the DVLA site that informed me that my licence was renewed in early June. WTF?
I continued to wait, as it is clear that the DVLA is in deep shit, but some weeks later, I sent a letter by special delivery asking the DVLA to let me know whether or not the licence had been dispatched as so many items are getting lost from our postal mail and deliveries these days.
I haven’t had a response to that either. So what shall I do? Report my licence as stolen or lost? To avoid being told later that I should have reported its disappearance sooner?
Ten years ago, I exchanged my Dutch licence – acquired in 1984 – for a UK one as I’d been living in the UK too long to still be allowed to have a Dutch licence.
I wonder if there is some kind of international law that I can apply to this as the DVLA is withholding an important form of ID for me that was initially issued in the Netherlands. I have been without it for four months.
I happen to have met the guy who runs the DVSA – not the DVLA – and he is one of my LinkedIn connections. He has a chunk of oceanography in his past.
But the DVSA apparently has similar issues as the DVLA.
It appears that he knows it, too, as his LinkedIn profile summary at some point made him sound so much like the manager of a hedge fund or manufacturing plant that I concluded that I must have remembered his professional context wrong. Then I ran into an article in The Guardian that mentioned him.
He’s leaving the DVSA. Smart choice. I think he is a very capable guy. And he can’t do a thing about my driving licence.
I am lucky. Lots of people have actually been forced to send original documents such as passports and marriage licences to the DVLA and being without them and their driving licence for too many months has led to issues such as being unable to get the visa for a planned trip, being unable to start the new job and problems with the Home Office.