Driving licence changes coming into effect at the start of the holiday season could cause chaos for travellers picking up hire cars in foreign countries. Here’s our at-a-glance guide to all you need to know.
What has this got to do with my holiday hire car: The DVLA is axing the paper counterpart that currently accompanies your driving licence photocard. These will cease to have legal standing from June 8. While the DVLA says you should destroy your paper counterpart, we’d advise you keep it safe and pop it in your suitcase as a back-up just in case your holiday hire company hasn’t heard about the changes – just like a large portion of the British population.
But how does this affect collecting my holiday hire car: The paper counterpart contains information on penalty points and other traffic offences that hire companies want to check before letting you loose with their car. This will now be held on the DVLA’s database and need to checked online, by phone or post.
This switch to a fully digital system is likely to make it harder for hire firms to check your driving record – and some local overseas firms might not even know the change is coming.
So how will hire car companies check my record: From June 8, travellers will need to log on to the DVLA’s website the day before they fly, enter their driving licence and national insurance number to obtain an access code that’ll allow a car hire company to check their details via the internet when they arrive.
How long does the code last for: The code will be valid for 21 days, so anyone hiring a car more than three days into their holiday will need to logon and get a new code – potentially incurring hefty mobile data charges if they don’t have access to free Wi-Fi.
Is there any other way: Yes. If you have access to a computer you can download your driver ‘record’ on a PDF document, print it out and show it to the hire car company. However, some motoring organisations are concerned firms could be reluctant to accept this.
What if I forget to get an access code or to download a PDF: Arrive at the hire car desk without any of the above and the operator could be forced to ring the DVLA’s premium rate helpline, which costs up to £3 a minute. Guess who’ll be paying …
Do I need internet access to use the service: No, the DVLA spokesman assured us that the system will have an associated phone number for drivers to call and obtain a code.
I have the old-style paper licence – is that okay: Yes, old-style paper licences are still legal and providing they are up to date, should be accepted at the hire desk as proof of your driving record. However, if you need to update and details – such as address or endorsements – you will have it replaced with a new-style photocard (and not paper counterpart, of course).
How to get your code to share licence details with hire car companies
So can you quicky run this by me again: Yes – just do the following…
Online: Here’s how to get your code to share with hire firms before you leave for your holiday – this is currently a beta system that has had a ‘soft’ launch so you’ll be among the first to give it a once-over:
1. Logon to the DVLA website and load the ‘View your driving licence’ service here
2. Log in using your driving licence details and then once the new page loads with your details, click the ‘share your licence information’ tab on the right hand side of the navigation bar at the top of the page – see below.
Click this tab once logged in to the view my licence section to generate a code for hire car companies
3. You will then be able to generate a code to share with hire car firms when you arrive at your holiday destination. Remember, it now lasts for 21 days and not 72 hours.
If you don’t have your driving licence number handy: Click here to log in using your personal details. Don’t lose this code.
You can also use the following methods to get you code…
Print: Logon to the DVLA site, as above, then download and print a copy of your record to give to the hire car company.
By post: If you don’t have internet access, you can write to the DVLA in advance of your trip and request a print-out of your licence record for the hire car company. Please allow plenty of time for this request to be processed.
Send the following information to the address below:
- your full name and address
- your driver licence number (or your date of birth if you don’t know your driver number)
Driver Licence Validation Service
Don’t forget: Take your driving licence and National Insurance number with you – just in case you lose your access code or have a change of plans and decide to hire a car.