DVLA warns of onging delays for motorists

DVLA delays

The DVLA has warned motorists using its services of significant delays due to the the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, a spokesperson stressed to Motoring Research that this is only for paper services and applications: DVLA online services are working as normal.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) maintains the registration and licensing of drivers and vehicles, and the collection of road tax (VED).

“Paper applications sent to our office in Swansea will take longer to process as they must be dealt with in person on site, where we are working with reduced numbers to meet social distancing requirements,” a spokesperson told Motoring Research.

The 2 metre social distancing measures in Wales have resulted in a reduced number of staff on site.

Motorists should remain patient, says the DVLA, even if the delay is stretching into weeks. 

“If you’ve already made an application, we will process this and return any documentation as quickly as possible.”

DVLA online

The DVLA says that its online services have not been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Since March, the organisation has processed more than 18 million online transactions.

For the fastest response, motorists should go online and fill in the necessary details, rather than sending paperwork to the DVLA in Swansea. 

Motorists can access a range of services online, with a V5C log book address change being the most recent service added. 

The organisation says its most popular online services are:

All the DVLA online services are available and a spokesperson assured Motoring Research that “online applications will be processed quicker than paper applications”.

Drivers aged 70 and over

Motorists who are aged 70 and over need to renew their driving licence every three years.

A spokesperson at the DVLA told Motoring Research that some drivers applying to renew “may be able to drive while the DVLA is considering their application, providing they have a current driving licence and they have not been told by their doctor or optician that they should not drive”.

Full information is available online to see if you can drive while your application is with the DVLA.

SORN spike

Many drivers opted to take their cars off the road during the lockdown, registering the car with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

Motorists get a refund for any full months of remaining VED car tax, so there has been a spike in the number of SORN applications this year. Click here to tell the DVLA you’re taking your car off the road.

VED refunds are being processed as normal, insists the DVLA.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the DVLA restricted its telephone contact centre to key workers only. 

This restriction has now been lifted, but officials still request that “while demand is very high, please only call our contact centre if it is urgent”. 

The DVLA contact centre is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 1pm, and 2pm to 7pm. 

It is also open on Saturdays between 8am and 2pm, but is closed on Sundays. Contact details can be found here

This piece was updated on 30 July with more information for drivers aged 70 and over


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52 replies
  1. ian kinsey
    ian kinsey says:

    Please can you tell me when you are planning on re opening now that car showrooms are open from the first of June. I am an independent dealer and have been waiting for two V5 documents since around the 14Th of March
    Thank you for your assistance in this matter, and i look forward to hearing from you.
    Many thanks.
    Ian Kinsey.

  2. Derek
    Derek says:

    On April 2nd I applied to renew my licence as I will be 70 on 16th June, by post as I do not have a passport or photo driving licence, I have not heard anything from DVLA, I cannot contact them, their leaflet says I can continue to drive while they are dealing with my application, the Police say it will illegal for me to drive. Who do I believe?

    • Brian Coy
      Brian Coy says:

      I am the same as Derek but had a photo license. I also need to retain my C1 rights which requires a medical. I read lots of different advice and waited as long as possible to see if there was any sign of returning to normality. Advice was to apply online to renew without C1 ( I can apply for reinstatement later when I can get a medical ). Unfortunately my passport had expired in May. Applied online May 22nd which is straightforward but my old license had to be cut in half and returned with a validation form before a new one will be processed, which I did. Result no driving license!!!! but I received my new passport surprisingly quickly.

  3. Anthony Harding
    Anthony Harding says:

    I had to stop driving in April 2019 for 12 months due to medical condition. Fine now and doctor has sent report off to DVLA and I have completed appropriate forms too. It is now nearly 15 months since I had a licence and get nowhere when ringing DVLA except to be told it is with medical team. Really frustrated by all this.

  4. Martin davies
    Martin davies says:

    Hi trying to remove my number plate online unable to do so! Sent in post weeks ago! Can’t get in touch with them, and now my new car has arrived but I have no log book now so can sell car!! Shocking

  5. Adrian Tomlinson
    Adrian Tomlinson says:

    On June 2nd posted off form to take my private plate off a car I was selling with a cheque as the system wouldn’t allow me to do the transaction on line. The cheque still hasn’t been cashed and last Friday I traded the car in – the garage is now chasing me for the V5. When are the majority of the staff going back to work?

    • Rod Davidson
      Rod Davidson says:

      Exactly the same issue as Adrian apart from my cheque being posted on 6th May – new car waiting but no V5 so garage will not progress the sale. Contact with DVLA via web chat who will not discuss anything to do with delays and will not even give an indication as to the dates they are currently processing. Very very frustrating to be kept in the dark and met with a brick wall when asking the simplest questions

    • Rod Davidson
      Rod Davidson says:

      Exactly the same issue as Adrian apart from my cheque being posted on 6th May – new car waiting but no V5 so garage will not progress the sale. Contact with DVLA via web chat who will not discuss anything to do with delays and will not even give an indication as to the dates they are currently processing. Very very frustrating to be kept in the dark and met with a brick wall when asking the simplest questions

  6. cosmic
    cosmic says:

    Bought a vehicle last week of March & decided it wasn’t the right car for me. I sent off the V5 & purchased the original car I’d been looking for. My plan was to sell the 1st vehivle to cover cost of 2nd but low & behold Im stuck with both cars & NO V5 for either. If many smaller companies have handled their business during CVD lock down how the heck is a body as vast as DVLA unable to provide even BASICS? People are sitting with no money but cars we need to sell but due to the inept government body responsible for looking after car registration the nation is on pause & can’t even speak to someone within the GOVERNMENT body responsible?!. I need my V5 for both vehicles & since DVLA is rigid in its demand for drivers filling in forms & paying excessively for the privilege of owning a vehicle, responsibility need to be taken & departments moving again to take pressure off of honest car owners!. Its inexcusable to hold an entire nation to ransom when many isolation rules have been lifted/relaxed. Come on DVLA your lack of co-operation is crippling drivers who pay enough as it is!

    • PAULH
      PAULH says:

      Yes, this is getting ridiculous. Thank God I’m financially secure because I still have two Jags – like John Prescott – sitting on my drive because I have not received my old car’s V5 (after some detail changes) due to these delays. I have some sympathy for the DVLA’s position but this kind of thing would be very difficult to bear for many less fortunate people – I just count my blessings that I can spend £30k on a new car & that don’t need the £8k or so from the sale of my old one. It also took them 3 months to return my driving licence after the website would not update some changes!!

  7. Gail Devaney
    Gail Devaney says:

    I would like to know why normal office workers can manage to access their systems and work from home but the DVLA cannot. People with medical conditions who are more at risk than others cannot get their licences because of this. People have not done anything wrong but are treated like criminals when they speak to the DVLA. Typical government body!

  8. Gavin Roffey
    Gavin Roffey says:

    Seems as though DVLA has shut down. Had to apply by post for retention of private plate and I am waiting for V5 for my new car and old car. Has been a month now getting well knarked as DVLA are doing the civil service,provide no service.
    Have £100 with dealer for return of V5 and no sign of when will return. Post office have confirmed delivery but DVLA have no knowledge.
    DVLA get back to work everyone else is plus you are now causing agro

  9. Roger Watts
    Roger Watts says:

    I quite agree the DVLA could be working from home as everything is on a data base. I have the same issue with wanting my number plate for a new car but can’t get a V5C for the one I’m selling. they have not cashed my cheque issued in April . Imagine the 100’s of 1000’s £ they are just depriving the treasury of in lost revenues at a time when we need it most. Lucky that they don’t have to make a profit like private sector! They are a disgrace and have not tried to adapt to the situation.

  10. Jon Heselton
    Jon Heselton says:

    I sent V5 document to DVLA 27May, for address change and private plate registration. Seven weeks later I still have no response. Surely this is not due to Covid.

  11. scott PANTER
    scott PANTER says:

    has any experienced delays in getting their car tax refunded from a sold car? someone told me it will be 12 weeks?

  12. anthony
    anthony says:

    So they are saying dont send in any documents ? might have been helpful for the online computer to be updated to flash up when i tried to take a private reg off a car it says fill in a V whatever and send it in ….thats what i did now sat waiting for a V5 that might not ever arrive in 6 weeks or more . lets blame it on covid -19 its easy … the Gov told workers to get back to work so why is DVLA on restricted opening times for staff ? eager to take our money online but slow in processing documents . shame on you DVLA

    • barbara vale-haden
      barbara vale-haden says:

      Unlike Anthony July 16th. I was told to send in a paper application to reapply for my driving licence following a medical issue now resolved. I also sent in change of surname documents (originals) and new photo. Sent by special delivery and signed for in Swansea the next morning. I phoned a month later as have not even received a confirmation email to say they had my documents (£9 for a landline call). Apparently I’m not on the system. DVLA most unhelpful. Did anyone listen to Radio 4 recently and the comments/issues people where both making and having? It seems there are a lot of us having problems. I happen to be an O.A.P. waiting for the go ahead to get my mobility vehicle. I’ve no idea if they have my application or they’ve lost them?

  13. dorota
    dorota says:

    hi,How long dose it takes to renew driving licence? I have send my documents 2 weeks ago, driving licence plus passport to change my address. Do not have any document at the moment. Try to contact DVLA several times unsuccessfully.,

    • Savvas Kyriakidis
      Savvas Kyriakidis says:

      Same situation here, i sent my documents in end of May (passport and driving license) for exchanging, still waiting. I am afraid that right now DVLA is processing march’s applications, so we ll have to wait.

  14. Edward
    Edward says:

    Hi, bought a car from a dealer six weeks ago and am still waiting for my logbook. Quite annoying as I have decided I don’t get on with the new car and am looking to px but need the logbook. This service is absolutely disgusting all under the excuse of Covid. I am a utility worker so have been working all through.

  15. Fransdad
    Fransdad says:

    Hi I am in the process of buying a used car that previously had a personal registration plate. I am due to pick it up on Wednesday 22nd. At the moment the car hasn’t been re registered to its original plate by DVLA (details sent by the prev owner in June) and the dealer needs to pay for the tax on the car for me. Can anyone confirm if the whole procedure now has to stop until such time as DVLA get into gear…is it illegal for me to purchase and drive the car (I have added it to my insurance). Thanjs

  16. joyce rowland
    joyce rowland says:

    i sent my drivers licence in to be renewed when i became 70 i have remarried and had to sent my marriage certificate in was told not to send a copy. i need this back urgently but can not get in touch have sent an email last week had no reply these were sent in to be signed for on the 6th of june

  17. Aurelia
    Aurelia says:

    Hi, my partner sadly passed away in May. I decided to change the registration document into my name. I read the info on DVLA website how to inform when someone died and I got confirmation from online advisor. As required, I sent paper V5C with covering letter explaining the circumstances to Sensitive Casework Team on 3rd June. It was received by DVLA the next day. It will be 7 weeks since I sent paperwork. I am NHS worker and according to the info, they are prioritizing critical workers. I don’t think they are. Their phoneline is dead. I contacted their online services but It’s not processed yet. I need to sell the car now but I am still waiting for my V5C. They are apologizing but cannot give the timescale. If I knew, it would take that long, I would put my buyer’s details instead of mine. It’s very frustrating.

    • Brenda Bell
      Brenda Bell says:

      I’m the same my husband died suddenly on 29th May sent the V5 to change registered keeper on 02.06.20 still waiting for new V5 to come back. I can’t do anything with the car till I get it back. I did manage to get through to the DVLA on the phone a couple of weeks ago and was told yes we have your old V5 here but You’re just going to wait for the new one to be sent out. They couldn’t give a time scale for this happening, I’m getting more than a bit pissed off now!

  18. Brian
    Brian says:

    I applied via post to exchange my EU drivers license for UK. I had to post my passport in as ID, it’s been 5 weeks already and I can’t get in contact with anyone. I have no idea when I will get my passport back so can’t plan any travel. Frustrating to say the least.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      Exact same situation Brian. I have given up hope of contacting the DVLA, and everyone on here should be contacting their local MPs. The DVLA have literally disconnected from the outside world and are uncontactable and unaccountable. I dont what Nationalty you are but i am Irish and was able to apply online for a credit card style passport via Dublin. I will have this in 2 weeks which will allow me to go on my holidays with the family.

  19. Stuart bell
    Stuart bell says:

    Applied to remove my cherished number from my vehicle as the vehicle has to be retuned as part of a PCP agreement. Finance company won’t take vehicle as I had to send the documents and I don’t have a V5 or a retention certificate for the private plate.
    Managed to get through To DVLA on the phone but the lady said that there was nothing she could and I would just have to wait. She had no idea how long this would take to process but that it would be months rather than weeks.

    DVLA should be picking up the tab for any costs involved. I have worked from home through out the lockdown and there is no reason why they couldn’t. Other government agencies including HMRC have been working from home so why not these layabouts!!!

  20. jo
    jo says:

    Its an absolute joke, I tried to reassign a private plate to a new motorhome I have bought during lockdown. I tried to do it online but computer says no send it to DVLA. Posted off documents recorded delivery 2 months ago, still no reply. I have emailed DVLA twice both times they just reply to say they can’t tell me if they have received it or when it will be processed. In the meantime the dealer cannot sell my old motorhome that I part-exchanged so they are not happy. I am left having to pay the tax on both motorhomes until they process the paperwork. I need to book ferries and am stuck as I don’t know which number plate will be on the vehicle when I travel. They are costing me an additional £25 a month for the tax, utterly p****d off with the whole system its diabolical. Don’t suppose they will be refunding me for their crap service

    • Mike Young
      Mike Young says:

      I agree this is OTT. my MG has been insured and taxed since 1 April and the Post Office took my V5C and V112 declaring MOT exemption. I have emailed and twice written to DVLA Swansea but nothing has been acknowledged. I have looked online at the MOT status and get a red warning of no MOT and the threat od a £1000 fine if caught without a valid MOT although the car is exempt. I have therefore been unable to drive my Classic Car which has remained in the garage during lockdown and remains so because of the threat of a fine or worse the car being taken and crushed. The DVLA are certainly taking the piss and not providing a public service. It seems a waste of time and money insuring the car to sit in the garage. The car is tax exempt but the delays and lack of communication is totall

  21. neal stringer
    neal stringer says:

    iposted v5 and all paperwork for private plate changeover on v5 begining of may,still heard nothing,phone useless,predone answers useless aswell,what a shower of shit dvla,everybodyelse is being encouraged back to work,why not you?

  22. Nasreen
    Nasreen says:

    Hi. I purchased a vehicle on the 1st June and the dealer said he sent the logbook book via post. It is now 2 months gone in and still have not received the log book. I have taxed the vehicle but need to return it to the dealer as there is a fault in it. I can not even get a refund for the tax at the moment as I have no log book and can not declare it SORN. My money is being wasted on a stationary car parked in my driveway. I have also completed a V80 form and sent it alongside the the green slip which I had been given by the dealer to yourselves in order to get the tax refunded but not heard anything back yet. How much longer do i need to wait as it seems that I am making a loss here

  23. Tabby
    Tabby says:

    Hi, I can’t understand why you haven’t even updated your progress of application paperwork even if you can’t complete them yet. Every day I check my progress of my provisional licence and everyday for over a month now you apparently haven’t had my application back. My step sister also applied for her provisional and she’s getting the same thing. At least fill in that much to put our minds at rest that you are ‘on it’. Soooo frustrating as you send the form back for us to fill in the day after we applied online.

  24. Stephen Short
    Stephen Short says:

    Still waiting for V5 for a car I brought on March 19th .Dealer doesn’t want to know and can’t get a reply from DVLA.NOT HAPPY, I know we are in difficult times but couldn’t they at least update their website to tell you how long the delays are likely to be.

  25. Zainy
    Zainy says:

    Applied for V5 by filling V62 in as the previous owner lost the V5… That was 13 weeks ago. Cant tax or sell it.

  26. Shaun cahill
    Shaun cahill says:

    2nd of July filled a v317 form with a cheque to remove my private plate, still waiting even tho it got signed for from the dvla private plate department

  27. Benjamin Fisher
    Benjamin Fisher says:

    Absolutely appalling service. I have been waiting over 2 months for the V5C to come back in my name, for my deceased mother’s car so that I can try to sell it. The phone lines are down, and there is no clear way to email them about your situation. I just got told that they had received my application form on their web chat service but it still hadn’t been processed and they could not give any indication of a time frame as to when I would receive them back. Meanwhile other government departments such as Probate were able to provide Death Certificates and Grant of Probate for my mother’s death in this lockdown period of time, but the DVLA seem to be able to do nothing or even have the decency to escalate my application which is linked to a bereavement.

    So my mother’s car is just sat there costing me money when I want to try and sell it without looking like a crook without the right paperwork. Absolutely no sympathy from the DVLA or any attempt to try and escalate the issue for me.

    Awful awful service.

    • Steph
      Steph says:

      I am in a very similar situation. My husband passed away at the end of May and I wrote to the DVLA Sensitive Case Unit on 10th June requesting that my husband’s car be transferred in to my name so I can sell it. Nothing! I chase them in the middle of July and was told “There is a huge baklog. We will get around to it but can give you no timescale for how long this will take”. So, his car is sitting in the drive way and I’m still having to tax and insure it, it hasn’t turned a wheel as I’m not confident driving it and now the MOT and service are coming up. I just need it gone. I’ve even got an offer on the table from a local dealer, but I can do nothing about this because of the DLVA delays.

    • Steph
      Steph says:

      I am in a very similar situation. My husband passed away at the end of May and I wrote to the DVLA Sensitive Case Unit on 10th June requesting that my husband’s car be transferred in to my name so I can sell it. Nothing! I chased them in the middle of July and was told “There is a huge backlog. We will get around to it but can give you no timescale for how long this will take”. So, his car is sitting in the drive way and I’m still having to tax and insure it, it hasn’t turned a wheel as I’m not confident driving it and now the MOT and service are coming up. I just need it gone. I’ve even got an offer on the table from a local dealer, but I can do nothing about this because of the DLVA delays.

  28. Martin H
    Martin H says:

    Hi DVLA. As I have exhausted every other platform of communication with you and receive no response. I have been waiting for my car registration document V5C since February 2020. It is now August 2020! I still have not received it. When will I receive it please? I’m glad I’m not a car dealership, they must be suffering big time.Can you state exactly how many staff are working to address the back log? Do any staff work from home? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

  29. jill WATSON
    jill WATSON says:

    Me too……I tried to tax on line wrong information is currently being held about so i couldn’t on line register my car tax.
    so i was sent to robot….it couldn’t tax me
    then i was put through to a operator- but it was lunch
    then i called back high- it volume of calls and was told to call at some other point
    i tried to send an email but it bounced back
    i tried to send a text saying i had made reasonable effort to contact the DVLA it wasn’t delivered
    tried calling back again still high volume of calls
    I wrote a hand written letter signed stating all of the above
    j watson

  30. Jim North
    Jim North says:

    Martin. I had a webcam with them on 30th July as I am still waiting for my v5 since May 22nd they told me 1500 out of 8000 working. I asked why they couldn’t work shifts to improve their service unfortunately that got me cut off


    Time to increase the on line services that are available, why do replacement log books need to be applied for by snail mail and hand. Why cant an on line process can be devised. Then 7,000 odd staff sitting at home on full pay can then be axed and normal service resumed. The 1500 still working should be kept on. I know it sounds a bit harsh but come on the rest of us are trying to get things going why cant you?

  32. peter halliday
    peter halliday says:

    5 months now and still no v5.. 2 v5s missing (still at DVLA) 2 vehicle tax refunds missing and 4 vehicle sold notifications missing.
    come on DVLA i have worked all the way through this pandemic will little or no reward and you still have my money and you still have my logbooks. NONE of the contact phone numbers are working, can not do web chat because that too is NOT working.
    is there anyone at all working at DVLA ?????????????

  33. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Still waiting on my provisional. I’ve sent them everything I have I.D wise. 6 weeks later and still nothing. Their phone line is dead, their email service doesn’t work Or is blocked and those you get through to on the online chat service, can’t tell you anything. I need my I.D for work and it’s gone for the foreseeable, so what do we do? Surly it’s illegal to hold on to someone’s personal identification documents for as long as you like to without any time scale of returning them? Shocking non existing service. If I’d have known I wouldn’t have bothered sending them anything.


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