Infrastructure Minister announces extensions for driving licences, resumption of IVA testing and other DVA services

Date published: 26 May 2020

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced plans to extend expiring driving licences for an additional seven months from the expiry date.

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The new arrangements will be put in place in the coming days, as soon as a new EU Regulation becomes law.  This means that all driving licences with an expiry date between 1 February and 31 August 2020 will be treated as valid for a further seven months. For some drivers this will remove the requirement to have a medical assessment conducted at this difficult time. This extension will be automatically applied and new licences will not be issued during this period.

Minister Mallon said: 

I understand that for many people at this time in particular, having a valid licence allowing them to drive for essential journeys or to ensure they can continue to work, is vital.   This new EU Regulation provides a practical solution to a very real problem and ensures that those in this situation can remain on the road without having to worry about getting a renewal application processed, which for some requires a medical assessment. It will also help any customers who could not access or were finding it difficult to renew their licence online.

“Road safety is my key priority and I would therefore remind all drivers that they have a responsibility to notify the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) if they have a new or worsening medical condition or disability that may affect their ability to drive.”

Addressing the taxi industry, Minister Mallon continued: 

“I very much regret that the extension provisions cannot be applied to taxi driver licences, as they are not covered by the EU Driving Licence Directive. However, for those taxi drivers who do not have a medical condition to declare, I can announce that my Department will renew your five year taxi driver’s licence without a medical report. You may be asked to submit a medical report at some future date. For those with a medical condition, I will do everything within my power to ensure that you are prioritised for medical appointments and licence renewal. I would ask those taxi drivers in this category, to please contact the DVA email address directly so we can provide you with assistance as quickly as possible.

“As well as helping more customers, these new measures will also free up DVA staff to allow the processing of first time provisional licences to start again and to deal with outstanding postal applications.”

In relation to specialist vehicles, the DVA will introduce ADR authorisations and reinstate IVA testing.

 
The Minister continued: 

“The necessary suspension of vehicle testing services due to the coronavirus pandemic has caused significant inconvenience for many customers who use our services, including those that require certification for specialist vehicles such as the carriage of dangerous goods vehicles (ADR) and those vehicles requiring an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test. 

“I am pleased to announce that from 1 June, the DVA will introduce a statutory authorisation process that will permit the continued use of ADR vehicles on our roads, provided strict conditions and control measures are in place for these heavy vehicles, the majority of which have been fitted with specialist tanks.”


Concluding, the Minster said: 

“I also plan to reinstate IVA tests from 1 June, following consultation with staff and unions.  The provision of IVA tests will be prioritised for those vehicles delivering essential services. This will ensure our supply chains and health service continue to be supported during this time of significant challenge.  Comprehensive advice and guidance will issue to customers shortly and will be made available on the nidirect website.

“As we work towards recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 I am pleased that we are able to help our customers get back on track by either restoring services or extending expiry dates for driving licences. Covid-19 has caused unprecedented difficulties for all of us and I thank our customers for their patience at this very challenging time. My team in the Department have worked tirelessly to find solutions and a way forward.  I will continue to keep other DVA services under review in line with the latest public health advice. In DfI we remain focused on finding solutions and a way forward that keeps staff and customers safe."

Notes to editors: 

  1. When the EU Regulations becomes law, driving licences with an expiry date between 1 February and 31 August 2020 will be treated as valid for a further seven months. So for example, a licence expiring on 31 May 2020 would remain valid until 30 November 2020. Automatic licence extension will commence as soon as the new EU Regulation takes effect, which is expected to be in the next few days. In the meantime, DVA will continue to renew licences wherever possible.
  2. In relation to taxi drivers; taxi drivers have two licences – an ordinary driving licence and a separate taxi driver’s licence. The taxi driver’s licence is not covered by EU law and therefore cannot therefore be extended in this way.
  3. DVA carries out around 1,000 Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) tests annually on a range of vehicles.  The IVA test is required if a vehicle has not been provided with a Certificate of Conformity from the manufacturer.  It is a very detailed specialist inspection carried out on a new or heavily modified vehicle before it enters service to ensure it meets certain safety and environmental standards.  
  4. Comprehensive advice and guidance to customers on DVA services is regularly updated on nidirect at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-and-motoring.  The DVA’s online driving licence renewal service will be updated to include information on driving licence extension periods.  Any renewal applications received by post will be returned to the customer with advice provided on extension periods.  DVA will send out renewal notices to customers, approximately two months before their new driving licence expiry date.  
  5. The application process for taxi driver licence renewals will remain the same as it is now. Where possible, renewals will be processed without a prior medical report. In circumstances where drivers have a medical condition which requires a prior medical assessment, they will be prioritised as key workers.
  6. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at: press.office@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk. Out of hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
  7. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra and on Facebook @DepartmentforInfrastructure.

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