Blog : Are DVLA closures making it worse for everyone?

Keith Adams


For anyone who buys and sells cars with any degree of regularity, being able get your paperwork quickly and efficiently from the DVLA is vitally important. By and large, it has to be said that, from my own personal experience, getting logbooks (Form V5C, above) or tax discs through the post has generally been a quick and painless process… until recently.

Due to a general decluttering of my life right now, I’m having one of my semi-regular purges of cars. What that means is that I’ve sold a couple in order to make sense of where I am right now – out has gone a 1999 Citroen Xantia and a 1986 Audi 100, both which have gone to satisfied new owners.

However, I’ve had neither car particularly long and I’m actually waiting for my logbooks to turn up. Both were signed over to me at least four weeks ago, with the paperwork all signed and sent off pretty much immediately. In the past, I’d have expected a new logbook to drop on to my door mat after about a week – and the world was a happier place.

Just recently, though, those short waits have gone – and I’m waiting longer and longer for the new paperwork to arrive. The problem is that, as you know, it’s difficult to sell a car on without a logbook, not least because it’s the seller who’s liable for any points or fines incurred by the new driver until the car’s paperwork has been signed over. These extended waiting times cause problems – after all, how can I sell a car without a logbook? Exactly…

So, the long and short of it is right now, that although both cars are sold, the new owners can’t really pick them up. Not with any degree of confidence…

I was hoping my cases might be isolated but, following a quick straw poll of people I know on Facebook, it’d seem that many of you out there are also suffering – if this trend is proving to be the case with an increasing number of people, then is the secondhand car market going to start grinding to a halt? I also hear that new registrations of cars that require SVA tests are also being delayed – not least because, to register these cars, DVLA can only accept cheques, not card payment of any sort.

When did you last write a cheque?

So, who’s to blame for this (assuming this is a situation, and my friends and I have not just been unlucky)? One has to assume that the closure of the DVLA local offices last year can’t have helped the situation. Where once upon a time, you traipsed to your local office, lined up in turn and spoke to an actual person face to face about whatever you needed sorting, now you can only call a centralised telephone line, or go via the Internet.

Unfortunately, if you can’t solve an issue quickly online, or centrally, you’re goosed – often without a tax disc, logbook or any timeous solution. Clearly the DVLA needs to modernise or restaff, but the closure of the local offices happened so quickly, there simply wasn’t time to do so. So, the question is – how long will this situation continue? Is it temporary? Or could it go on? With the increasing use of ANPR to catch untaxed drivers, are people being forced off the road while the paperwork catches up?

We’ll see, but I sincerely hope not. One thing I would like, is to hear your experiences. I’d love to think mine are unusual – but I suspect not. Let me know your experiences, good or bad…

Keith Adams


  1. Keith, I have no recent experience of changing cars so I can’t comment as to whether their processing of paperwork has slowed. However, reading the above just made me think “another sign of the times” , “again service declines as human, local input is removed”.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it……….

  2. Keith, For the times I have rang Swansea. I have been in a queue for ages and ages and then given up as a p**s poor service.

  3. When I go my brand new Freelander 2 a few months ago, I needed to get a replacement V5C for my old one from the DVLA ( only had a blue one, not a red one). Arrived in 5 days. New car’s V5C arrived 3 working days after registration.

  4. Hi Keith,
    I too have had this problem.
    Solved…send your paperwork special delivery. yes it costs a few beers tokens….
    BUT yours is done ASAP.
    Sign of the times 🙁

  5. I don’t buy and sell often, but the new processes took me by surprise.
    I bought a brand new car last month, The V5 and Tax disc arrived on my door step before the car did. :S

  6. Not car related but the same establishment.
    Get a reminder in mid October last that my driving license expired in January, filled in the on line form the same day.
    December –!you have glaucoma” (told them that ages ago) “go to xxx for an eye test.”
    End of January –rang to find out where my license was–“dealing with it.”
    End of February it arrived –minus C1 and D1 entitlement (I didn’t realise this was removed just because of age 70–my fault) and I needed C1 to drive my elderly fire engine (Morris by the way)
    Phone call to DVLA, fill in a form, go to GP for a medical (£70–cash) send it all off.
    Late April –it arrived!!!

    Six months more or less!!

  7. They’re closing the DVLNI and moving it to Swansea, from what I read here is an utter shambles. Not looking forward to my next car change.

  8. I sold a car in the 2nd week of march, i’m still waiting for the confirmation that i’ve sold it…. I also bought a car at the end of February, still haven’t received my log book yet. much like you, i have been used to receiving them within 2 weeks at the latest.

  9. It takes about 3-4 weeks to get a V5 to your name, change of ownership takes even longer, add a fortnight to this. I even received a tax renewal for a car sold 2 months before! Where’s the progress ?

  10. I wouldn’t worry about ANPR cameras. I work in the Motor-Trade and am continually astounded at the number of cars we have presented to us for MOT when the old one expired literally months ago!
    I thought that these wonderful cameras were supposed to be putting a stop to that (and those driving without insurance which costs ALL of us law abiding drivers a fortune) but they appear to be yet another white elephsnt…

  11. Another angle I have been concerned with is that the centralising of records to Swansea will not be of help to those looking to confirm that a classic vehicle that has not been taxed or Sorned (i.e. ‘unlicensed’) for many years was allocated its registration mark.

    In the Exeter VRO, for example, they would spend time with those who had an ‘unlicensed’ vehicle that was ready to take to the road once again, going through the paperwork and any other supporting documentation to confirm that vehicle had been formally assigned that registration mark. This office built up a good relationship with bona fida motoring historians from vehicle clubs who were helping their members deal this problem.

    Sadly the rot started to set in about three years ago, with additional pressures placed on the staff often resulting in correspondence not being replied to and less incentive to obtain old records that had been sent to the central office.

    The problem with the DVLA was not really about local VROs, more the inefficiency of being a department of central Government who were only interested in cutting costs wherever they could. Sadly my own suggestions on additional fee-paying services that could be offered by the DVLA, together with a suggestion to raise the cost of obtaining photocopies of the documentation held on file about your own vehicle, were completely ignored.

    The DVLA at Swansea also does not like it when you advise them that the information they have about your vehicle is either incorrect or has not been updated by them. More often than most, they accuse you of not giving them the correct information in the first place.

    As a rule of thumb, any documentation I have to send to the DVLA, including any cheques, is now automatically photocopied, so that I do have information to fall back on if/when they do make an error.

  12. I have to say i am still happy, getting my road tax invitation in the post and going to the Post office and paying by Debit card then fixing the tax disc to the windscreen. as said elsewhere If it aint broke dont fix it, though in this country £millions are spent modernising the systems, then £millions to get back to square one…

  13. @12 – well, from Cotober (I think) you won’t need a tax disk – but no-one’s said how the new system will be administered – will we still be able to go to teh Post Office to Tax the car? @11 – Exeter were brilliant – but they were treated like s*** by Swansea – hence the fall off there – and Keith – sign of the times indeed – doesn’t want to deal with it’s voters – we’re too much of an encumbrance or embarrassment – what do you really expect – from ANY of them!

  14. Well, I for one am having a nightmare with them. Trying to swap to private plates over and change of ownerships on our new cars and if I had been able to go to my local DVLA office, 6 weeks of hair tearing, teeth gnashing and swearing could have easily been avoided as their “helpful” rejection letters have been about as effective as looking for a virgin in a maternity unit!!

    Plus having then spoken to them, they admited that what I had originall submitted would have been acceptable – just some little “Herbert” got it wrong and letters have been bouncing around for nearly 6 weeks now, when what I did first time round was ok!!!!!

    If I had been doing this over the counter, it could have been sorted in minutes, nay seconds not 6 weeks!!!!!!!!!

  15. They’re an absolutely incompetent joke of biblical proportions. I’ve tried to talk to managers to get the problems I have had sorted out – had the phone put down on me before I even managed to finish the sentence the first time.. 3 attempts later still refused, not to mention legally actionable abuse.
    The documentation is a joke – on the same A4 page theres different methods to do the same thing – both of which turn out to be wrong because they’re totally different to the V5 information. Same thing as you were trying to do Nic – transfer a plate from the old Safrane.
    They wont accept an email for ANYTHING claiming they need a signature – odd – when you’ve been able to ‘sign’ an email since somewhere about 1992. They couldnt be more obstructive or offensive if they tried.
    They arent going to like me – I will be sending a complaint to them – forwarding a copy (by email) to a chappie by the name of Cameron. They’re going to like it even less when they find out what I am going to say to the court in Watford, and what my solicitor is going to say to them when I sue.
    Mind you – they arent quite as bad as Atos – 5 attempts and I’m still trying to get an appointment..

    • Hi Jemma,
      I have written a letter lower down about my present problems but I would like to add a postscript to your own letter if I may.

      A few years ago I sent my driving licence to the DVLA for a change of information.

      It came back stamped “Cancelled”! I telephoned the DVLA and said “You can’t cancel a licence without a reason”. The awful woman at the other end replied “We can do as we like – we’re a government agency!”.

      I lost my job because I didn’t have a licence to drive and was out of work for 9 months and my MP proved powerless against the might of the DVLA.

  16. People always badmouth Atos Origin, but I worked with them on an assignment in Italy and they weren’t too bad as contractors.

  17. Still, come September they will not be dealing with Scottish registrations 🙂 so that should cut them some slack.

  18. @ Will M

    They might be good when it comes to IT – they’re downright awful when it comes to IDS’s latest brainstorm.
    Highlight of the most recent attempt was the discovery in order to record my interview about my health I have to either bring a dual recordable cassette tape deck or a dual recordable CD! no other media is acceptable.. Yeah, I am going to spend money on ebay and then lug half of a full size separates system around town…
    Will they let you use a simple smartphone and bluetooth? of course not, that’d be sensible.

    @ Paul – they wont be dealing with anything – theyve been kicked off the contract by the government, IDS got tired of them nagging him about this odd concept called reality..

  19. Update time!! Finally, after 6 weeks, 2 ridiculous “rejection letters” all of the V5C’s and re-transfer details and new tax discs arrived this morning! Could have been so much quicker being able to pop up to my local office in Nottingham, spoken, face to face with a human being and sorted it out!!

    Just have to move all of the plates around now, sort my insurance and warranties out, feed the cat, cut the lawn…………………………………….

  20. I have letters bouncing back and forth to Swansea – on a quite simple matter which should have been sorted at the first attempt if the operator had read my letter correctly.
    I reckon they have hired lots of new staff to deal with the backlog caused by the closure of LVLO’s and these rookie’s have had insufficient training to do the job effectively.

  21. Quote: “Clearly the DVLA needs to modernise or restaff” … I should think it would also be possible to have (semi-) private organisations involved that act as a proxy. To mind come either certain motor factors or, better still, those that regularly handle paperwork, like insurance agencies or automobile clubs. State central planning never works well.

  22. Having recently bought an 18 year old vehicle and wishing to have a full history of it from DVLA records, I sent off a correctly completed form V888 on 17th May together with the prescribed fee of £5.00 and waited…
    On 14th June I received, with a covering letter dated 06th June, two sheets of photocopied pages showing my own application for a new registration certificate from when I bought the car plus the same information from when the person I had purchased it from had acquired it themselves approximately one year earlier. With such requests it is usual for DVLA to supply copies of every ‘log book’ they have issued, plus a copy of the V55 form that the original selling dealer uses to register the vehicle. I emailed DVLA requesting this missing information and, despite their web page promising an email reply to my request within 3 working days and my having supplied an email address and phone number, no communication was ever received.
    On 10th July the information I had requested finally arrived minus any apology or explanation for the original omission or acknowledgement of my further inquiry.
    I believe that the DVLA is now suffering following the closure of the LVLO’s and is chronically understaffed and most likely under-funded too. Surely in this day and age it should be possible for such requests to be fully automated and if you can provide the current V5C serial number, your keeper details and payment by debit/credit card the system should be able to send the information by email in a secure document format? Only an idea!

  23. DVLA are becoming very good at putting ripples in my karma as well. I am due to leave the Army next Easter and as I already have my HGV licence I am applying to obtain my PCV licence as well. I’ve had the medical, all well and good, filled out the forms including ticking yes to the question of am I in the armed forces as for a little while at least I still am. Several weeks later the paperwork arrives back at my parents house all rejected. The reason for this is nothing more than pedantic jobsworths who seem to think it’s ok to make the blood boil of the people they are supposed to be working for. As Ive come across many times in my dealings with such people they are very good at hiding behind the quotes of ” I’m only doing my job” and/or “The rules are the rules.”
    “The rules” in this case are because I ticked I am in the forces I get a condescending letter with my documents explaining that the Regimental Driver Training Office should have sent my licence application off for me and not myself. IMHO there are a number of issues I have with this:
    1. It’s MY driving licence, not the Armys.
    2. My becoming a PCV driver is not going to benefit the military in any way as it is for my use after I have left.
    3 Thanks to Call Me Dave, My Regiment is currently in the process of disbanding so by the time DVLA get their backsides into gear there will be no Regiment for them to send my Licence back to.
    4 Seriously,and the ultimate question. What difference does it make who sent them the licence application as long as all the paperwork is in order?
    I have now been advised to resubmit the paperwork with an amended application form that isn’t ticked to say I am still serving.
    I now wait with baited breath to see what happens next.

  24. I bought a slightly damaged-repaired (Bonnet, front bumper radiator-grill and one headlamp replaced) car from a trader 5 weeks ago. The trader applied to the DVLA for a new registration document.

    In the meantime the DVLA are refusing to allow me to tax my car so I can drive it because they have not issued a registration document yet.

    I am not avoiding road tax, the DVLA is simply refusing to accept my payment. The trader has telephoned them on several occaisions and been told that they have no way of knowing if they have issued a registration document yet – If their computer does not know what it has done what use is the computer?

    However, I still can’t use my car because of these huge delays at the DVLA.

    Once I would have gone with the trader to the local DVLA and we could have sorted everything out in a half day.

    Now they have shut all the local offices. The trader was willing to drive to Swansea with me to get things sorted out quickly for me but good old DVLA refuses to speak to their victims.

    The bulk of this hideous, harmful and expensive and unnecessary organisation should be shut down.

    If road tax were added to the cost of fuel it would be impossible to avoid road tax and those who used most and poluted most, would rightly pay the most.

    The insurance companies already have computers that the police can and do, access and a relatively small computing facility could take care of MOT’s.

    In many European countries the insurance companies issue the vehicle owners with one year registration plates for their cars thus taking care of both registration and visible proof of insurance.

    The control freaks in Westminster and Swansea insist that they are indispensable, When will somebody with a brain have a proper look at and get rid of this expensive layer of beaurocracy?

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