Skip to main content

DVLA and HMRC – working together during the coronavirus pandemic

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: DVLA Digital Services

In April 2020 DVLA received a request from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to help users applying for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to verify their identity using driving licence data. Paul Heskins from Service Management explains more.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for people who are self-employed or are a member of a partnership who’ve been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is asking customers who have never registered online before to sign-up with Government Gateway before they claim their grant. It was forecast that a minimum of 1.4 million users would fall into this category and each customer would need to have their identity verified.

Multiple identity sources to help customers

To help lower the risk of customers getting blocked or delayed by the identity verification step, HMRC extended the range of data sources available to customers to verify their identity including passport information, pay as you earn (PAYE) data and tax credit data.

Making driving licence data available for customers to use to verify who they are, means the overall demand for verification is spread out across more data sources, minimising the risk of any individual source getting overloaded. It also means the chance of success is increased as is the capacity for genuine customers to prove their identity online.

We take the protection and handling of data very seriously. Throughout the project build, governance processes were followed diligently including ensuring compliance with information assurance and data sharing principles, to make sure all DVLA data being shared would be done so lawfully and securely.

A collaborative effort

A core team with people from departments across DVLA, including experts in data sharing, IT and information assurance, was immediately formed to start working on the project remotely. We used Microsoft Teams to communicate and allocate tasks and worked closely with HMRC to share our progress and vice-versa.

Woman looking at the Self-employment Income Support Scheme on her laptop

A quick turnaround

In just three weeks, this diverse team built and released a product for HMRC to connect with their new service. Not only did we complete all work within agreed timescales, we were able to allow HMRC to connect earlier than planned. This gave them vital time to test and commit resources elsewhere in their own race against time to make the product live to the public.

This technology is now enabling HMRC in providing vital funds to those who need it most during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The full service successfully went live on 13 May and over 650,000 people used their driving licence details to verify their identity in the first week.

Person looking at the Self-employment Income Support Scheme page on GOV.UK on their mobile phone

The hard work paid off and the feedback from our colleagues at HMRC has been positive:

“A big thank you to the DVLA team. Everyone has been really supportive and the amount of progress made in such a short time is exceptional, it is very much appreciated.”

Jim Harra, HMRC Permanent Secretary, also commended the work:

“I just wanted to say thank you for pulling out all of the stops in helping us deliver SEISS this month. The high success rate of the service is a testament to the brilliant working between teams in HMRC and DVLA.”

If you are self-employed and have been affected by coronavirus, you can register for SEISS on GOV.UK using your driving licence data.

If you think you’d enjoy being involved in projects like this, and you’re interested in what it’s like to work at DVLA, then check out our latest vacancies on Civil Service Jobs.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Marcus Rockey posted on

    Certainly, the government support scheme has helped our online business to remain solvent during COVID-19.

    We saw web traffic drop by over 50% in seven short days. Now, things are beginning to improve.

    The scheme to delay MOT test post-March 30th has been useful for our customers too and we assume there was a rise in SORN applications during the crisis.


  2. Comment by David C Hayes posted on

    Sounds like joined up thinking ! Well done ! From my experience many local councils talk the talk but have no idea of how to walk. Senior Directors are the blockage. Being a consultant and then a Borough councillor at Charnwood Borough Councl has left me shocked & disappointed that Senior Directors and members created a wall to prevent change
    Well Done DVLA & HMRC

  3. Comment by Mark Nichol posted on

    It would seem that you wasted your time working with HMRC because really all that self-employed clients need to do is ring HMRC to claim the TAXABLE grant.No need for them to identify themselves via DVLA information and no need for them to have a government gateway number and password.The number to ring is a freephone number and HMRC can process your claim as they have all the information to process your claim.

    • Replies to Mark Nichol>

      Comment by Paul Heskins posted on

      Hi Mark

      Many thanks for the response, this piece of work allows the customer the option of contacting HMRC in a number of ways in order to maximise the support we can provide the public at this time.


  4. Comment by PETRE Francu posted on

    Well done,less chance for scammers

  5. Comment by Mike posted on

    Good to hear that you're unlocking customer data to benefit customers but why so long to deliver this? You are running on cloud and microservices architecture surely? Three days is fast, three weeks slow. Having established the capability are you now going to be supplying address data validation more widely than to just HMRC? Have you published an API to allow this to be delivered to whoever I as a customer authorise and how can I update my DVLA data permissions to allow you to supply my data to whoever I want?

    • Replies to Mike>

      Comment by Paul Heskins posted on

      Hi Mike

      Many thanks for the comments. Technical delivery was indeed much quicker than 3 weeks but there were additional considerations that we had to ensure were in place before delivery could be achieved. In regards to permissions and future direction, we are always considering how best we can serve the public in meeting their needs and this will form part of our decision making processes in the future.