Foreign car hire to require special access code
Motorists planning a trip abroad this summer are being warned they will need to take a special code with them if they want to hire a car.
From June 8, the paper counterpart of UK driving licences – which was first introduced in 1998 and records endorsements and fines – is being replaced with computerised records.
Anyone now wanting to hire a car abroad will need an online access code to provide access to online records showing convictions for offences like speeding. And to obtain it, motorists will have to log on to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website beforehand.
For those who do not have internet access, a DVLA premium rate phone number is available.
Research by the RAC has shown that 55% of drivers are unaware of the changes, and six weeks away from implementation, experts say things are still very “muddled”.
Why the change?
The DVLA flagged up the abolition of the paper counterpart last year as part of a purge on unnecessary paper – and a result of the government’s Red Tape Challenge consultation on road transportation.
There is up-to-date information on the DVLA website and the Agency says it working closely with the industry to ensure that their systems and processes are ready for the changes.
Details of the changes are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-licence-changes.
What do the changes mean?
The DVLA is advising drivers to destroy the paper counterpart document as it will no longer be legally valid and won’t be updated after June 8.
Those who wish to access licence information, such as penalty points, will have to do so online, by phone or via post via the DVLA website.
From June 8, all new penalty points will only be recorded electronically, and will not be printed or written on either photocard licences or paper driving licences.
From this date, if you commit a driving offence you will still have to pay any applicable fine and submit your licence to the court in the usual way.
What problems could drivers face?
Any drivers booking car hire for holidays after the June deadline will need a special code to access their licence online to show what endorsements they might have on their licence.
But experts are worried the new system could lead to people being turned away by foreign car hire firms who may still insist on examining the paper counterpart to check for endorsements or bans.
Travellers may also find that the terms and conditions of car rental companies require that paper counterparts must be shown.
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, which represents the rental industry, says UK hirers unaware of the rule change could be treated in the same way as those who currently turn up without both parts of the licence.
What do I need to do?
The DVLA advises people heading abroad to log on to its website – https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence the day before their trip. Here you can generate the access code if you want to hire a car while on holiday.
The free view driving licence service on the DVLA website lets you see what details are on your licence, including what vehicles you can drive and any penalty points you may have.
To access your details, you will need:
- your driving licence number
- your National Insurance number
- the postcode on your driving licence
Motorists will also have the option to download their driving history as a printable PDF file, although it is unclear whether all car hire firms will accept that, or how drivers without access to a computer will cope.
All endorsements and information will be held electronically on a web-based service called “Share Driving Licence” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dvlas-share-driving-licence-service-is-available.
Alternatively you can call DVLA on a premium call number 0300 790 6801 and give permission for your driving record to be checked verbally by a nominated person/organisation.