Every three to five years, the average driver in Nigeria experiences the all too familiar anxiety that is associated with renewing their driver’s license.
This was my state of mind a few weeks back when I realised I would soon have to make the dreaded trip to the local government office. My last experience three years ago left a bitter taste in my mouth. Despite repeated claims by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) that it costs just ₦6,350 to get a license, the corrupt system ensured I wasted precious man-hours, energy and excess financial resources securing mine.
So it came as a pleasant surprise this time around when I was able to renew my driver’s license hassle-free, in less than 30 accumulative minutes.
I’ll tell you how I did it. But before that, let’s get a few things out of the way.
- I assume that you have a computer with internet access.
- I assume that you also have access to a printer.
- I assume that your driver’s license is expiring in a maximum of 30 days.
This is probably a good time to point out that even if you don’t have the first two, you can still get your renewal done in considerably good time. However, I’m sharing my experience based on the above assumptions.
Step 1: Applying online
The entire process begins online.
- Point your web browser to the FRSC’s Nigeria Driver’s License website.
- On the navigation menu, hover to DL Application and select Renewal of Driver’s License.
- The next page requires you to fill in your driver’s license number and date of birth. Click on Search when you are done. Note that if your driver’s license is valid for more than 30 days, you cannot proceed from this point.
- On the next page, select your renewal option — 3 years (₦6,350) or 5 years (₦10,450). I played it safe by selecting 3 years.
- Scrolling down, crosscheck that all your biodata is correct/up to date, edit if otherwise. I didn’t have to edit anything in my case.
- Scroll further down to the section that says Processing Office; the state and local government you originally processed your driver’s license is selected by default. You can change it. In my case, my license was processed in Ikeja, Lagos but, because it is much closer to me, I switched to Agege.
- This step is very important (I didn’t realise it until I was done); there’s an option to redo your bio-metric capture. I chose “No”. More about this step later.
- Once you are done with everything on this page, click Submit.
- A preview page of your application will be presented. Make sure that everything is correct.
- You have the option to pay online. You should. I paid with the Interswitch/MasterCard/Visa option (I believe it’s the second option) and there were no extra charges.
- Once payment is confirmed, your Driver’s License Application Acknowledgment Slip will be loaded up, with payment status and license expiry date updated.
- Copy out your Application ID on this page.
- Click Print to print your acknowledgment slip. You only need one copy but, to be on the safe side, I printed two.
- Go back to the navigation menu and click on Track DL Application status.
- Enter your Application ID from earlier and your date of birth. Print one copy of the Payment Confirmation Slip.
Step 2: The physical approval process
Now, you have to head on to the Processing Office you selected during the online application. For this, you need:
- One copy of your Driver’s License Application Acknowledgment Slip
- One copy of your Payment Confirmation Slip.
- One photocopy of your current driver’s license. Take the original along with you too.
- Two passport photographs.
Please note: If you are in a hurry or don’t have access to a printer, you should be able to get the above done at the business centres that are sure to be scattered around your Processing Office. Just be prepared to pay a little premium (about two times what it will normally cost).
Because I am sharing my personal experience at the Agege Processing Office, the following steps might be slightly different for you. However, this should give you a general idea of what to expect.
- Present all the documents above to the FRSC officer at your processing centre.
- Proceed to the MVAA (Motor Vehicle Administration Agency) section where the presiding officer will validate your acknowledgement slip.
- The next step is the Vehicle Inspection Service office, where you will be required to take a short written test.
- The VIS test is not free. It costs ₦2,200, which you can pay for with your debit card and get a receipt. In fact, the officer in charge, who processed my payment with a handheld Android-powered device, insisted that they don’t like to take cash.
- After the 10-question written test (which is quite a breeze), the officer will educate you about traffic and driving rules, after which they cross-validate your slip. Just remember to relax; they’re not out to get you.
- And you are done!
Yes, I was quite surprised when the VIO lady announced that I was done. But not before she told me to “make a photocopy of your slip and wait till you get a notification to come pick up your card”. The only snag is that the card will take about three months to arrive. But it’s not that big an issue, as you’ll soon see.
I was done with the Processing Office in less than 15 minutes. If you add the time it took me to complete the online application, the entire process didn’t take me up to 30 cumulative minutes.
Still in disbelief at how quickly it went, I returned to the FRSC office.
“Am I really done?” I asked the officer I met there.
“Is it bypass?” he replied.
“Did you choose to recapture when you applied online?
“No, I didn’t”
“Then you can go”.
Apparently, asides paying online, choosing not to recapture during the online process saves you a lot of time. You should only choose to recapture if:
- You have undergone drastic physical changes over the past few years.
- You intend to step out with a (more portable) temporary driver’s license card, as opposed to carrying around your signed acknowledgement slip.
The FRSC officer assured me that both options (temporary card or validated slip) are valid tenders for as long as you’ve not been issued your permanent card. Indeed, no expiry date is indicated on my slip.
Now, I do not know how many extra steps it may have taken if I had chosen to recapture, but judging by the environment that day, I suspect I wouldn’t have been held back more than an extra 10 minutes. Perhaps this is because I went on a Friday morning and there was hardly any crowd.
Also, my choice of the Agege Processing Office may have been another advantage. I’d like to know if anyone has a similar or different experience at other processing centres. Please share in the comments section below.