DVLA to tap into Home Office immigration status service to expedite driving-licence applications
Agency to establish ‘electronic link’ with department, minister claims
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is to create an “electronic link” to Home Office immigration services that will allow foreign nationals applying for a UK driving licence to prove their identity digitally.
Earlier in the pandemic, the backlog of driving-licence applications awaiting processing grew to as many as 636,000. Many people still use paper forms to apply, and processing times were elongated by the need for social distancing, which limited the number of staff that could attend DVLA offices. Covid outbreaks and strike action – taken as a result of employees’ concerns about coronavirus safety conditions – also contributed to delays in dealing with a reported 60,000 new items of post that arrive each day.
The agency has strived to encourage citizens to use its digital platforms, where possible, while work has also taken place which has “accelerated the development of additional online services”, according to ministers.
Upcoming expansions to the DVLA’s online offering will include connecting with government’s digital service for foreign nationals to demonstrate their immigration status. This will mean that, for the first time, citizens of countries other than the UK will be able to complete the driving licence application process entirely online.
“The DVLA is working with the Home Office to create an electronic link to its ‘View and prove your immigration status’ service,” said Trudy Harrison, a junior minister at the Department for Transport. “This will allow those with a non-UK passport to be authenticated online and use the DVLA online application service.”
This change could benefit as many as 9.6 million people – the number of residents of the UK that were born in another country.
Other developments to the DVLA’s digital proposition over the next year “will allow customers to upload their own photograph and signature instead of using one from a UK passport, as the current service requires”, according to Harrison.
The minister added: “The quickest and easiest way to transact with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is by using its extensive suite of online services. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days.”
Although the DVLA has reduced the backlog by about 70% in the last nine months, as of last week there were still 189,067 applications awaiting processing, according to Harrison.
The minister’s comments were made in response to a written parliamentary question from Scottish National Party MP Kirsty Blackman.
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