What does my driving licence number mean?

If you’ve ever wondered how your driving licence number is created? Depending on whether your licence has been issued by the DVLA (Driver And Vehicle Licencing Authority) or the DVA (Driver and Vehicle Agency). The DVLA deal with the licences for people in England, Scotland and Wales, while the DVA issue driving licences for people in Northern Ireland. This post is also useful if you need to use a driving licence to check someone’s details. You can use the information below to make sure the licence number matches the details the person has given you.

DVLA issued Driving Licences

Your driving licence number is a unique combination of 15 characters made up of your surname, date of birth. Let’s look at a made up person by the name of Christina Joan Robins, born 2 July 1976.

Her driving licence number may be:

R O B  I  N    7  5  7  0  2  6      C J 9 A Z   0  1
N N N N N   Y M M D D Y      I  I C C C   R R

N = The first 5 letters of the persons surname. If it is shorter than 5 letters, then the number 9 fills in the extra spaces. For example someone with the surname of ‘Bush’ would have BUSH9 as the first 5 characters of their driving licence.

Y = Their year of birth, the first number at the start, the second at the end.

M = Month of birth. For a male born in July this would be 07, for a female, 5 is added to the first number so you end up with 57. For November, a male would have 11 and a female would have 61.

D = The day of birth

I = The first 2 initials of the person. If they have no middle name, then the number 9 will be substituted instead.

C = Computer generated characters. The first one is normally a 9, and the other 2 are normally random letters.

R = A reference number that indicates the issue number of the licence. This can also be used to make sure the photocard matches up with the paper counterpart licence. It’s not technically part of your licence number, but shows at the end of your number shown on your licence.

DVA Issued Driving Licences

If you have a licence from Northern Ireland, then your driving licence number is a random selection of 8 characters.

Checking Driving Licences Online

If you have a licence issued by the DVLA, then you can check your details online using this service. It can show you which vehicles you are allowed to drive, any penalty points you have and when your licence expires. At the moment there is no way of checking a DVA issued licence.