The photocard and counterpart driving licence explained

Wednesday 8th February, 2012 at 15:02 COMMENTS (12)

A driving licence is only valid as two parts, the photocard and paper counterpart. 

Both parts contain important information, including your personal details, vehicles you are entitled to drive (provisional and full) and any endorsements you may have. 

The photocard driving licence explained

photocard driving licence

Your photocard will contain your full name, date of birth, country of birth and your address. 
It will also include your driver number, issue number*, the start and end date of your photocard licence and an electronic copy of your photo and signature. 

The front of the photocard will show the vehicles you are entitled to drive.  If you have a full licence your provisional entitlement will be shown on the counterpart. 
If you hold a provisional licence your provisional entitlement will be shown on the front of your photocard. 

When you receive your provisional driving licence, check all details are correct.

The counterpart driving licence explained

counterpart driving licence

Your paper counterpart will contain your full name and address.  It will also include your counterpart reference number, issue number* and an electronic copy of your signature. 

The paper counterpart will display any endorsements you may have and any provisional entitlement if you have a full licence. 

* THE two parts of the photocard driving licence must match. 
Every time a licence is renewed, or updated with an endorsement, then the issue number is changed by the DVLA.  If the issue number does not match and other details differ, then the driver could be tampering with, or fraudulently using an old version of their licence.

Security features

The photocard driving licence and paper counterpart contain a number of enhanced security features that weren't available on the older versions.  One of the main differences between the two is the current photocard has a black and white photo while the older version a colour one. 

The driving licence also has tactile (raised) surfaces, tactile engraved text, changing colours as well as complex background designs. 

Replacing your driving licence if lost, stolen, defaced or destroyed

If you have lost your photocard and/or counterpart you must apply for a replacement licence as the licence is not valid without both parts.  You can do this using DVLA's secure online service. 

Both the photocard and the counterpart D740 are considered as the 'driving licence'. 

Changing your personal details

You must immediately tell DVLA about any change to your personal details.  To change your address you must fill in the section provided on the paper counterpart.  The address must be one in Great Britain.  This can also be done online at
Send both your photocard and paper counterpart to DVLA at DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BN

If your name has changed you will need to fill in form D1 which is available to order from or to pick up at Post Office® branches and send it to DVLA.  You will also need to send proof of your new name. 

You could be fined up to £1000 if you do not tell DVLA about these changes

Make a booking

Further reading:
Apply on line for a provisional driving licence


Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
Short but very accurate info... Thank you for sharing this one.
A must read post!
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
Do I have to pay for a counterpart replacement?
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
Yes you will.

To replace your licence you’ll need to:
be a resident of Great Britain
not be disqualified from driving for any reason
pay £20 by MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card
have a valid UK passport or other form of identity
provide addresses where you’ve lived for the last 3 years
Provide your driving licence number and National Insurance number if you know them.
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
do I need the counterpart of my license to have my vehicle serviced, as I have misplaced it, and ifso, why? I am in a lease car scheme.
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
A driving licence is not usually required when servicing a car.
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
Although if you want a courtesy car you will need both parts as in effect you are hiring a car while your one is being serviced.
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
There is a light coffee stain on my counterpart! My test is soon.. Will I have to apply for a new one? You can read all the details clearly
Reply to Ciaran
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
Hi Ciaran, I would suggest as long as the details are readable and the licence does not appear to be tampered with, all should be fine. If in doubt contact the DVLA or local driving test centre.
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
My paper part has an issue number with a letter, i.e. '26A', however my photocard just says '26'. Your note above says 'the issue numbers must match'. Is the 'A' part of the issue number? In which case my licenses were misissued - will I have to pay to get this corrected? Or is the 'A' not part of the issue number. Clearly 'A' is not a number, but it does seem to be in the 'Issue Number' box and there is not even a space character to separate it from the '26'. Does anyone know what the situation is with this?
Reply to Danny
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
The number do match as - "a" is not a number. It is just used to distinguish the two parts of the same licence. From 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence will not be valid and will no longer be issued by DVLA. The counterpart was introduced to display driving licence details that could not be included on the photocard.
Lee Robinson
Lee Robinson
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
My license check has come up with no driving entitlement despite me having no disqualification or restrictions I hold a c+e1 everything but a motor bike I have insured vehicles aswell as I have had the police run a check at a police stop point and I was driving and they let me continue my journey I am currently tryin to get insurance with a company and my partner thinks I aren't able to drive can u give me some clarification please
Reply to Lee Robinson
Thursday 21st September, 2017 @ 4:30 am
Lee, I would seek clarification from DVLA asap to avoid future problems.

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