Freedom of Information requests – DVLA and Passport service

Based on recent discussions, I put together a couple of FoI requests to the DVLA and Identity & Passport Service – the results should be interesting. I had initially thought that the presence of a title on a driving licence was based on when you received it, but a little research reveals that unless you have an honorific title like Dr. or Rev, it’s just women that get a title! That’s not very 21st Century but it’s been ongoing for at least 30 years, so I’d hope the policy is simply historical and one that’s never been reviewed. If not, that’s also a feminist issue, particularly given all the standard D1 forms I’ve seen have just “Miss” or “Mrs” on them – not “Ms”! (Although one person apparently has “Ms” on theirs, so I guess you can put it in the “other” box.

Hat-tip to Christine Burns, it was her comments on Lynne Featherstones blog that alerted me to the possibility of unspecified gender on passports.

Firstly, the DVLA:

1. It would appear that at least for the last 30 years, driving licences include title (Mrs, Miss) etc only where the holder is female or has an honorific title such as Dr, Lord etc. Can you confirm this is indeed current policy? Please supply a copy of the policy or guidelines issued to staff, if they exist.
2. What is the reason for this policy, if it is not merely historical?
3. Has this policy been reviewed historically and if so, what were the results of that review, including minutes of meetings.
4. Are there any current plans to review this policy?
5. Would the DVLA issue a driving licence on request
a) without the title (To a woman)
b) with an alternative title such as “Ms”, (Not indicating marital status) “Mx.” or “Mre.” (Gender-neutral forms of Mr/Ms)
6. If a licence would only be issued under one of the above only under certain conditions, what are those conditions (E.g. Deed Poll with the new title)
7. In cases where the gender of the applicant is not obvious, how is this handled in terms of encoding the “gender marker” within the 7th character of the licence number? (For example, supporting documentation does not include it, the name and appearance of the applicant in the photograph is ambiguous and they have a non-gender specific title, such as Dr.)

And the somewhat more technical one to the Identity & Passport Service:

These questions relate to ICAO Doc 9303, Part I, Volume I. Can you confirm:
1. Does the Identity & Passport Service follow Doc 9303 (Or a standard that refers to it, such as ISO/IEC 7501-1:2008) for passports
2. Section IV permits use of “X” to mean unspecified as a sex on Machine Readable Passports (MRP) within the Visual Inspection Zone (Page IV-11, field 11) and similarly “<” within the Machine Readable Zone. (Page IV-16, line 2, character position 21) Has the IPS ever issued an MRP with X/< specified as sex and if so
a) Under what conditions were they issued
b) How many have been issued
c) Of those issued, how many are still valid
3. Does the IPS still issue passports with X/< specified as sex and if so, under what conditions. In particular, would the IPS issue such a passport on request.
4. If the IPS has previously issued MRPs with X/< specified as sex but no longer does so, the reasons for this change.

Identity Cards
1. During discussion on the Identity Documents Bill, Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, implied that only one individual had has two identity cards issued under the provisions of The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Application and Issue of ID Card and Notification of Changes) Regulations 2009, section 7(2)(b). Can you confirm this figure is correct?


  1. I just (on 15.6.12) got a D1 form to update my driving licence (due to gender transition) and the current form now has Ms as a checkbox option, along with Mr, Mrs, Miss, and Other boxes.

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