Fitness to drive

Explains the rights that you have to drive, what information you need to tell the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and how to appeal if your driving licence is taken away. Applies to England and Wales.

After I tell the DVLA

What will the DVLA do with the information I give them?

The information you provide will be considered by a team of medical advisers at the DVLA. They will aim to make a decision about whether you can drive or continue to drive within three weeks of you telling them about your mental health problem. They will write to you if it is likely to take longer than this.

In some situations, the DVLA may need more information before making a decision. The DVLA might want to:

  • contact your doctor for more information  
  • arrange for you to have a medical examination by a local specialist
  • ask you to take a driving assessment or driving test, which is like a mini driving test. The DVLA tends to only ask people to go for a driving assessment if they have a physical disability – for example, a visual impairment – so it is unlikely you will be asked to do one of these.                          

Once the DVLA has all the information it needs, you will receive a letter from the DVLA telling you whether:

  • you can keep your driving licence or have a new one
  • you can have a driving licence for a shorter amount of time – for example, for 1, 2 or 3 years. If this happens, your fitness to drive will be reviewed when that period comes to an end.
  • you must stop driving

It is important to remember that your situation will be looked at by the DVLA individually – just because you have a particular diagnosis or take a particular medication doesn’t mean you won’t be allowed to drive.

Flowchart: Telling the DVLA about your mental health problem


How does the DVLA decide whether to issue a licence for 1, 2 or 3 years?

The decision about how long to issue a licence for is based on:

  • the nature of your mental health problem
  • how your mental health problem has responded to treatment 
  • how stable your mental health is

The DVLA’s decision will usually be based on a report from your doctor. If the evidence suggests that your mental health is stable, then it is likely that you will be granted a 3 year licence.

Are the rules the same whatever type of licence I have?

No. The medical standards for Group 2 licence holders are much higher than for Group 1 licence holders due to the size and weight of the vehicles being driven, and the amount of time drivers spend on the road behind the wheel.

Can I drive while I’m waiting for the DVLA’s decision?

This will be up to your doctor. If your doctor tells you that you need to tell the DVLA about your mental health problem, you will need to ask him or her whether you can carry on driving while the DVLA makes its decision. Usually the DVLA will not revoke your licence until all the medical information has been provided, although in some exceptional cases it can revoke your licence immediately if it is in the interests of road safety to do so.

When do I have to surrender my licence?

If you are advised by your doctor to stop driving or if you decide yourself that you shouldn’t drive, you must surrender your driving licence to the DVLA. To surrender your licence, you need to fill in a declaration of surrender for medical reasons from the website and send this to the DVLA with your licence.

You will need to apply for a new licence if you want to start driving again after surrendering your licence.                        

Is it better to surrender your licence voluntarily?

There are advantages to surrendering your licence voluntarily, as it may mean that you can start driving again sooner:

  • If your licence was refused or revoked for medical reasons, you have to wait for the DVLA to say that you can start driving again.
  • If you surrendered your driving licence, once your doctor tells you that you are fit to drive again, you can start driving as soon as the DVLA has received your application for a new licence, as long as certain conditions apply.


This information was published in September 2016. We will revise it in 2018.

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