DVLA reply to FoI request on driving licence titles

I’ve received a reply to my Freedom of Information request to the DVLA – I’ve reproduced it minus the usual pre and postamble on such letters. Some quick highlights – I think they missed the point in that they talk about “recording” titles rather than their inclusion on the licence so I’ll probably resubmit the FoI request again, rewording the question to make it clearer. I’ve not received the attachment they mentioned, so perhaps that clarifies things somewhat. Secondly, one good point for many is you can basically put whatever title you want on the form or leave it blank if you don’t want one, regardless of gender. (Although I would guess for a change of name/title you may need to explicitly ask for the title to be removed or there’s a risk they’ll just re-include the old one)

If anyone is wanting to follow up on this on their own and reference this request, their reference number is FOIR2039.

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.

Where a female applicant does not specify a title, then this field is left blank. Titles such as Doctor, Reverend, Lord and Lady are also included on driving licences. I can confirm that policy or guidance in this regard is not held. It is the responsibility of DVLA to accurately record information that has been provided to them by applicants for or holders of a driving licence. Where a female driver provides a title such as Miss or Mrs, DVLA will include the title on the individual’s driving licence.

However, guidance is available that instructs staff about the field codes to use when keying the information to be input on the driver’s record and I attach a copy for your information.

2. What is the reason for this policy, if it is not merely historical?

The Policy is historical and evolves over time in reaction to developing trends.

3. Has this policy been reviewed historically and if so, what were the results of that review, including minutes of meetings.

This information is not held. There have been no formal reviews of DVLA’s policy on recording titles. Of course where titles not previously identified are submitted by applicants then the matter will be reviewed as and when necessary.

4. Are there any current plans to review this policy?

Please see the answer to 3 above.

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 form of Mr/Ms

The answer to both a) and b) is Yes.

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)

A deed poll would not be required for either title Ms, Mx or Mre.

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.)

DVLA would contact the applicant in circumstances where there was any uncertainty over their gender.

Update: I’ve now received the missing document on entering and handling title codes, which includes some rules on when you might need a Deed Poll. (If you want to call yourself something that implies a title, “Lord so-and-so” for example.)

14 comments

  1. Hi Zoe, Would you know if the DVLA have said that they have ever issued licences with the title “Mr” for males?
    I’m having trouble with the DVLA, they’ve claimed the Title “Mr” on my licence an anomaly which according to them i am expected to explain! They say they dont normally issue licences with “Mr” on them, only on request and so mine licence is suspicious!

    I’m looking for anyone else out there who have had or have “Mr” on their licences. Mine being a the old paper one, but i guess this “Mr” appearing on the photocards ones count too.

    Help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. I have not run across anyone but it’s certainly possible – if someone puts in the title code as 7 and manually enters Mr, that would generate a licence with Mr on it. (It’s not clear what the practical difference between 1 (Mr) and 5 (Male with no prefix) are, it would appear they produce identical licences.

      As to the DVLA thinking the licence is suspicious, I can only think they must have lost your original records otherwise they’d know why it had Mr on it! Surely they should know if you’re entitled to a licence too so I can’t see why they’d have a problem with it.

      1. Hi Zoe, thanks for the reply. My issue with DVLA is actually to do with missing entitlements. I dont know if you’re aware but the DVLA have been loosing peoples licences and entitlements. They’ve been on BBC watchdog a few times because of this too
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2009/04/dvla_removing_license_entitlem.html

        Anyways I’ve also become avictim of this. I thought i’d be able to clear up as i had copy of my previous licence. However the DVLA not wanting to accept it, have highlighted a so called “anomaly”, the “MR”.
        Originally on my provisional licence i had an Other title. I then later changed it to “MR”, i think i may of entered it in the other box as you suggested, all in the changes to your name and address section. Is that what you mean when you say “if someone puts in the title code as 7 and manually enters Mr, that would generate a licence with Mr on it”. This was some 15years ago, and that was the time of paper licences, but there definelty was a box for other title which allowed me to manually fill it in.
        I’ve been currently trying to look for any other people with “MR” so i can prove my point. So in case you come across any let me know.
        However I’ve also requested my record under the FOI act, so the title switch to MR should show. On the phone they’ve already admittted that i had another title earlier until i changed it to “MR”, so thats pointing to a posible reason why it actually shows up in print.

        Has the DVLA actually confirmed to you that by entering “MR” in the other title box would make it show up in print on the licence?

        You can also raise issues with the DVLA via Whatdotheyknow.com. If you have a moment you may want to read this http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/removal_of_entitlements_and_lack

        Thanks for your help.

  2. Excellent Zoe, I do love reading things like this always makes me laugh out loud a lot. Just goes to show the DVLA let you call yourself anything you like.

  3. Thanks for posting this, it’s very, very helpful. I’m in the middle of a MTF gender transition, and it wasn’t at all clear how to get my driving licence title (and code) changed and what their rules are, given that my current licence has no title. It’s important for me to have a new licence that says Ms on it, because the less well-informed admin folks out there think a driving licence with Ms on it is ‘proof’ and nothing else will do, so it’s vital reinforcement. Thanks again.

  4. Why the DVLA put “MISS” before my first name on the driver licence,.
    ex: 1. My name
    2.MISS IONELA-……
    ….I’m soooo confuse…. It is ok.? Thk

  5. I will agreed that we women should not class different to men they are not adressed as us women are made to measure in society’s 😇😇😇😀😇

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