Like many government departments with impressive acronyms, the DVLA can sometimes be a bit of a mystery. What is it that they actually do? What do you need to contact them for? And what problems can they solve for the average person? Here’s a look inside the DVLA at the services it offers and why you might need a DVLA contact number.
Top of the list of responsibilities held by the DVLA is the managing, collecting and reminding people about car tax. Car tax applies to all cars, bikes, vans and other motor vehicles being used on UK roads and without it, your vehicle isn’t legal and you could receive a fine. The DVLA are responsible for sending you a form, called a V11 that tells you when your car tax is due and how much you have to pay. There are different ways to pay it including by direct debit and by card or even via online payments.
As well as chasing you for money, the DVLA are also responsible for changing information when you change your car. This means you are no longer responsible for tax on the old car but are responsible for tax on the new one. This might mean you are due to a refund and there is a special DVLA tax refund contact number to ring about these queries.
If you don’t pay your car tax, the DVLA are the people who will start legal proceedings against you that can result in a fine. However, there is a system where you can own a vehicle but not be using it – this is known as SORN or Statutory Off Road Notification. This allows you to own the vehicle, keep it off the road and not need tax or insurance on it. There are conditions attached and you need to complete an appropriate declaration for this.
Once they have updated the information on your car tax, the DVLA also issues the paperwork to confirm a vehicle now belongs to you when you buy a car. This is known as a registration certificate or registration document and should be retained by all car owners to prove their ownership of the vehicle.
In addition to the basic registration document, the DVLA are also the people to speak to about private plates. If you have one, want to register a new one or need to swap it from one car to another, they are the people who help with the paperwork. Again, they have dedicated contact numbers to ring for these services. You will need to have the private plate registered on the vehicle with DVLA before you use it on the road and you also need to change your insurance to reflect the new registration number.
In addition to monitoring that your car is legal on the road, the DVLA are also the people that check individuals are allowed to drive – they issue provisional driving licenses, update information following points or convictions and send out photocard driving licenses. This means that unless you have a valid driving license issued by the DVLA, you cannot drive a vehicle in the UK.
The DVLA are also the people that keep track of information provided about medical conditions. There is a system where people have to notify them if they have any medical condition, accident or injury. Most conditions are non-notifiable and this means no further action is required. But there are other conditions that may need noting on the individual’s record. Some can even prevent a person from driving for a period of time, such as a stroke or heart attack.
For professional drivers, there is often a requirement to have a tachograph in the vehicle that records driving time, distance and speed. DVLA are responsible for issuing these to ensure that the devices are in compliance with EU rules on the subject. Most vehicles registered after May 2006 must have a digital tachograph, though older vehicles may still operate an analogue one.
The DVLA also provide information about the use of these devices and the rules around them so drivers and employers can ensure they are in line with current rules and regulations. They can also advise the penalties if these rules are not adhered to.
Working with the police
The final job of the DVLA is to work with the police and intelligence authorities to deal with crime. Part of this is due to the use of driving licenses for ID and can also involve people with driving bans and points on their license. While data held by the DVLA is confidential under Data Protection rules, they are able to use it in certain circumstances with the police.
Contacting the DVLA has always been difficult and that’s why a range of new contact numbers have been released. But if you do need one of their services, you should always contact them as quickly as possible to avoid any problems.