From June 8th this year, the paper counterpart of your driving licence is to be abolished and the DVLA will keep all of this information digitally in future. This means that the information on your paper counterpart which includes any convictions or points on your licence will now only be accessible online. To access this information you will need to have your driving license number, your national insurance number and your postcode.
If you are renting a car abroad after the 8th June you will need to provide a ‘unique code’ to the hire car company instead of your paper counterpart. You will no doubt be aware that it usually clearly states when you book a hire car that you need to bring your paper counterpart with you. Now they should be asking you instead for the ‘unique code’. This means that the change in the rules is an important one and could affect you if you are hiring a car.
I have to say that I have not been asked to produce my paper counterpart when I have hired cars in Italy over the last few years. However I shall take no chances in the future!
What you should do is to log into the driving license section of the DVLA website before you are ready to hire the car – in all likelihood before you leave the UK – and you will be given a ‘unique code’ which you can present to the car hire company. This will give them access to your driving record. They will need to enter the code as well as the last 8 digits of your driving licence number on the DVLA website to access your driving record. The code will be valid for 3 weeks, after which it will expire.
If you have a paper pre-1998 license or are from Northern Ireland you are exempt from these changes although you still need a code to fully validate your paper license.
Suffice to say that I am unsure whether the counter staff at the hire car companies will be familiar with all of this so only time will tell and I should be interested in hearing of your experiences. A recent survey by the RAC has shown that more than 50% of British drivers are still unsure as to how exactly the system works, and an even higher percentage of foreign hire companies are unaware of the upcoming change.
I suggest you apply for the code before you leave and take your paper counterpart with you – that way you cannot go wrong!
For further info, you can access the DVLA’s new online service from the 8th June 2015 or call 0300 790 6801.
Good Luck and Happy Driving!!