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Scrapping of the licence counterpart will affect car hire

The planned scrapping of the paper counterpart for photo-card driving licences by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is finally scheduled to take place on the 8th of June 2015. It is being replaced by a new system that will digitally store all disqualifications, penalty points and vehicle classes permitted to drive on a central DVLA database.

The DVLA says the counterpart licence will lose all legality on the 8th of June and holders can tear it up. Please note that the new ruling does not apply to drivers still in possession of DVLA paper licences obtained before 1998. These are still valid until the holder reaches the age of 70 and definitely must not be torn up. What will change with these old style licences is that any driving convictions will not be recorded on them. Again, any new convictions after the 8th of June will be digitally logged.

The changes to the licence rules only applies to DVLA issued ones and not to those obtained from the DVA in Northern Ireland or overseas.

How will hiring a car change once the new system goes live?

Once the DVLA launched the two-part photo-card and paper counterpart licence in 1998, hire companies told drivers they would need both sections. The DVLA’s new system will include a webpage with the name of Share my Driving Licence. This will give drivers the means of giving rental firms the same data that was previously recorded on the counterpart.

By entering a few basic personal details drivers will be able to generate an authentication code which rental company staff will use to access the driver’s record. The code functions as a digital signature. As courts will no longer record penalties on pre-1998 licences, drivers holding these will also have to present an access code to the rental company at pick-up time.

A note on usage restrictions – The codes have a lifespan of 21 days from when they are generated and can be used once only. The DVLA has capped the number of codes the system will give each driver in 24 hours to five.

The best plan of action

As both renters and hire firm staff get used to the new requirements there are sure to be problems during the coming months. The only sure way of ensuring your car collection process is stress-free is to log on to Share my Driving Licence and get your authorisation code before going to the depot. These easy steps will help:

How to get your access code

  • This link is a direct route to the webpage from which you can apply for an access code to give to the car rental staff.
  • Write the code down immediately and put it in a safe place. When going to the rental office give your driving licence and the code to the staff who are on duty.
  • A printout of the PDF code confirmation could be useful as additional proof you applied for the code.
    Note! To get an access code you will need:
    a) Drivers Licence number
    b) National Insurance number
    c) current postcode on DVLA records.

Advice

During the first few months the new system is in operation we are advising all drivers renting vehicles via our website to contact their selected supplier to ask what they specifically need at pick-up time. You might be lucky and the company won’t ask for a check code, yet the chances are that you will have to supply one especially if renting in the UK. The PDF print could also be an asset if you mislay the code. It’s much harder to lose an A4 sheet. The DVLA service also gives the option of printing off a copy of the driver’s records which could be a bonus in case of technical issues. If you don’t supply a code, the rental clerk could end up phoning the DVLA on your behalf and that will cost you, the hirer, 51p a minute. This option is restricted to Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 19:00 and 09:00 and 14:00 on Saturdays.

Starting the 12th of May, drivers have an additional option to acquire their codes. The DVLA launched an extra service option on 0300 083 0013 and this can be used by any driver with a DVLA licence to get their code. Any expectations that this line would operate 24/7 were dashed when the agency released its opening hours. It keeps to the same hours as the original DVLA help-desk with just one hour added on Saturday mornings when it is manned from 08:00 onwards. It is best to avoid using the phone lines anyway as they cost money whereas the online service is free.

Questions

Although this post covers all the salient points of the transition from licence counterpart to authorisation, people with specific queries can contact their vehicle provider with the number on the confirmation voucher or the DVLA here.