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.)