I'm in the process of trying to get rid of my wallet - all of my bank and reward cards are on my phone, so I can use Google Pay for my purchases and points.

I have two cards left, my bank card (which I need for purchases over £30) and my driving licence.

So, if I was pulled over or needed proof of ID (for alcohol, for example), would a photograph of my driving licence be legal or acceptable?

I've found a few questions and articles on this already, but they all seem to be US based and 3+ years old:

  • At the risk of stating the obvious, if you needed to show your driving licence because you were pulled over, then surely the easiest thing for the wallet-less person would be to keep the licence in the car's glove box. Your motive for not wanting to carry it around with you is so you don't have to carry a wallet on your person. However this becomes a moot point if you're driving a car anyway, as the car has ample space to carry around as many things as you need. Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 14:05
  • One thing that should be noted is there are a number of phone cases that also act as sort of a wallet and have places to store things such as a drivers license and credit cards.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 21:00

3 Answers 3


Regarding being pulled over, the guidance at Learn to drive a car: step by step states (emphasis mine):

If a police officer asks you to, you must be able to show:

your driving licence

a valid insurance certificate

a valid MOT certificate (if your vehicle needs one)

If you don’t have the documents with you at the time, you may be asked to take them to a police station within 7 days.


To add to StephanS's answer, "may be asked to take them to a police station within 7 days" is somewhat at the discretion of the police officer. If you can't produce them immediately and the police officer can't verify your licence/insurance status electronically then you are likely to be treated as driving without them. That includes immediate seizure of your car, and probably arrest if the officer can't verify your identity.

They can also seize a vehicle if they think it’s: * being driven by someone who does not have a proper licence or insurance


The police advice states:

It is an offence not to produce your driving licence, certificate of insurance and MOT certificate when requested to do so by a police officer. However the usual action is that the police officer will issue a HO/RT1/ (called a 'producer') requiring you to produce the documents at a police station of your choice within 7 days.

And also states:

From a crime prevention point of view it is better never to leave your driving documents in your car and produce them within the 7 day period.


A photo of a licence is also easily doctored (especially if it's only viewable on a phone) and may be treated as suspicious in inself. A good quality (black and white) photocopy, that is obviously a photocopy and not likely to be mistaken for an original document, is probably the best thing to carry if you do not want to carry your actual licence etc.


To add to Tom Revells and Owains answers from the point of view of purchasing age-restricted products a photocopy or digital would not be acceptable.

The only IDs that shop workers can accept are Driving Licence Photocards, Passports or Proof Of Age Cards with a PASS hologram on it. All of these feature various anti-forgery measures such as the hologram embedded in them that could be circumvented on a photograph, meaning that from the shop's point of view there is no proof the photo they see is actually your driving licence.

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