Information charter

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The Department for Transport with its Agencies holds personal data on the majority of the UK adult population.  The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency holds records on 42 million drivers and 36 million vehicle keepers.  The Driving Standards Agency holds details of 3.7 million tests conducted each year.  The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency holds 103,000 records on goods and passenger vehicle operators.  And the Maritime and Coastguard Agency holds records on seafarers.  It is very likely that at least one part of our Department will hold personal information about you (a full list of our Agencies, and who to contact is shown below). 

We know how important it is to protect your privacy and to comply with the Data Protection Act.  If we ask for your personal information we will:

  • let you know why we need it
  • only ask for what we need, and not collect excessive or irrelevant information
  • make sure nobody has access to it who shouldn’t
  • let you know if we share it with other organisations to give you better public services, and whether you can say no
  • only keep it for as long as we need to
  • not make it available for commercial use (such as marketing) without your permission

In return, to help us keep your information reliable and up to date, we ask you to:

  • Give us accurate information
  • Tell us as soon as possible of any changes, such as a change of address

How to find out what personal information we hold about you

You can find out if we hold any personal information about you by making a “subject access request” under the Data Protection Act 1998.  If we do hold information about you we will:

  • give you a description of it
  • tell you why we are holding it
  • tell you who it could be disclosed to
  • and let you have a copy of the information in an intelligible form. 

To help us give you the information you want, we need you to tell us which part of our Department you have been dealing with and why you believe we hold that information.  If you think the information is held by one of our agencies, you should send your request direct to that agency. 

Under the Data Protection Act we are allowed to charge a fee for responding to a subject access request.  It is not currently the policy of the central Department to charge for subject access requests. 

To find out how to make a subject access request to central DfT, please see how to make a request to central DfT.

Each of our Agencies has, according to its business needs, determined its own policy on charging, and if you want to make a subject access request to a particular Agency you should check that Agency’s website for details.

When we share information

We are committed to providing the best and most efficient service to our customers.  We may share personal information within our organisation or with other bodies where it would be compatible with the purpose for which we collected it, and/or where we are required or permitted to do so by law. 

There are some cases where we can pass on your information without telling you, for example to prevent and detect crime or to produce anonymised statistics.   In all cases - whether data is shared internally or externally - DfT will act in accordance with the DPA and other relevant legislation.   

To find out more about who we share information with, please see the Who we share information with and why webpage. 

The training and guidance we give to our staff

Staff working in parts of the Department that handle large volumes of data about the public, such as DVLA, receive in depth training.  From autumn 2008 we will be providing renewed general awareness training to all our staff, and those in positions with formal responsibility for information handling will receive additional specific training. 

You can see the guidance we give to our staff on data protection. This explains the importance of checking that the information we hold is accurate and up to date.  To see the guidance provided to staff in the central Department and in the Agencies, please use the links below to go to the separate Information Charters.

How to make a complaint

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your personal information and wish to make a complaint, please write to the Data Protection Officer at the relevant Agency or the central Department.   We will acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days and let you have a full response within 20 working days.  If it is not possible to respond fully within this timescale, we will write and let you know why and say when you should receive a full response.

For more information

Please contact:

Data Protection Officer
Department for Transport
Information Management Directorate
Ashdown House
Sedlescombe Road North
St Leonards on Sea
East Sussex, TN37 7GA

For independent advice about data protection, privacy and data sharing issues, you can contact the:

Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Phone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 524510  Website:


Who we share information with and why

Information on who the Department for Transport and its agencies share information with and the purpose of this sharing.

01 July 2008
Last update:
20 April 2009

Data Protection Act

Notes for guidance on complying with the Data Protection Act 1998.

01 July 2008

For related documents, pages and internet links, see the column on the right.