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How driving licence changes will make your car hire abroad difficult

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From June 8th this year, the paper counterpart of your driving licence will be abolished. The change, which will see all historical licence information stored digitally by the DVLA, is designed to make things easier – but will significantly affect how you hire a car abroad.

What you need to know about the changes to driving licences

  • 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 online, you will need your driving licence number, national insurance number and postcode.

How will this affect how you hire a car abroad?

When logged in to the View Driving Licence section of the DVLA website, you will be provided with a unique code. You present this code to car hire companies, which will grant 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 only be valid for 72 hours, after which it will expire. Holders of full paper licences up to 1998 and Northern Irish licenses are exempt from the change, though a code is still needed to fully validate paper licenses.

A recent survey by the RAC has shown that more than half of British drivers are still unsure as to how exactly the system works, with even more foreign hire companies unaware of the upcoming change. The DVLA have set up an online video tutorial explaining how to access the necessary code and what you need to do once you have accessed it.

Potential problems when hiring a car abroad

Concerns have been raised about the short expiration time that will be placed on the code. If you access the code before you leave for your holiday, you will then have 72 hours to use it with a car hire company. However, this means that for many who don’t organise car hire within the first few days of their holiday, a code will have to be requested while abroad. This may mean a trip to the nearest internet café to access the code you need for car hire.

Although a phone number will be provided for those who do not have internet access, either method could still require significant planning and potential extra expenditure while on holiday.

Don’t throw away your driving licence paper counterpart just yet

Although the paper counterpart will be invalid, there are contrary opinions surrounding its relevance after the changes to licences take effect on June 8th. The DVLA recommend destroying the document, however, the AA have advised on keeping it.

Although your code will be the first means of presenting your driving record to car hire companies, the AA have stated that the paper counterpart may be helpful for rental companies that are not yet completely aware of the change. Many hire car companies do not always require the paper counterpart, and so the code won’t always have to be presented.

Need more information?

Although the change is fairly soon, the resources provided by the DVLA clearly explain everything that you need to do in order to access your code, and how it works once abroad. You can access the DVLA’s new Share Driving Licence online service from the 8th June or call 0300 790 6801 to get more information.

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