Driving Licence renewal may drive liveaboards round the bend

May 2017 - One of the most frustrating things about making your home on a boat is dealing with the demands of government and Peter Underwood's own experiences with the DVLA confirms life isn't getting simpler.

Driving licences are now all photo identity cards that have to be renewed every 10 years and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) reckons there are millions of out of date licences out there.

If you are one of them, dig yours out and take a look – you could be facing a £1,000 fine – but you won't find the renewal process as easy the the DVLA website suggests if you don't have a normal address that comes up as being residential on the government database.

Driving licence photos must be replaced every 10 years and it's an annoying £14 to renew online, £17 if you renew by post, and £22.50 if you go into a Post Office and they take the picture.

But none of that may work if you live on board a boat and your only address is the nearest Post Office, the marina where your boat is based, or any business address.

Attempt to put a business address into the website and you will spend a frustrating amount of time going around in circles as it simply refuses any non-residential address – something you only discover after a long time manually entering addresses and looking for ways to give them the place where you get your post.

Even if you enter a new residential address, rather than a previous business address, the system won't accept you because you also have to enter that previous address – to be thrown out once again.

Oddly you can renew a business address at the Post Office by handing over your licence renewal letter with your licence and having them take the picture. That was my solution.

However government tax collectors are usually keen to take your money – the Inland Revenue and other government departments don't have similar problems. They are happy with any address that will reach you.

I asked the DVLA in Swansea just exactly what they wanted boaters who live on board to do. Should they use a family member's address even though it is not where they live? Surely this is a problem that comes up with other individuals , not just those living on boats?

A helpful press officer explained: “We accept PO Box addresses and even a Post Restante address but we need some evidence that you live on a boat and that is where your post is delivered.”

He explained that could be your boat licence and something that has been sent to that address, like a bank statement or other correspondence.

“The applicant must send a postal application, enclosing evidence that they live on a boat.

“The evidence can be in the form of a Mooring Permit, Canal & River Trust licence or a letter on headed paper from a Harbour Master or Marina confirming they currently reside on a boat.

“If they are using Post Restante services from the Post Office or professional mailing services with business addresses they should include copies of correspondence evidencing this use of a service.”

Asked why that wasn't possible by using the quickest and cheapest option, the DVLA website, he told the Floater that the website catered for the 47m people with driving licences, and making changes for a few thousand who didn't fit the parameters was not cost effective.

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