Important Changes to UK Driving Licences to Affect Car Hire

UK drivers who intend to hire a car this summer should take note of the following changes to UK driving licences:

From 8th June 2015, the paper document part of the driving licence, which accompanies the photographic card, will be null and void.

All information that is stored on the paper copy, such as penalty points and vehicles that are permitted to be driven, will be computerised from 8th June.

How will the changes affect car hire?
Usually, when a car is hired, both parts of the driving licence are presented – the photo card and the paper copy. From 8th June, in order to give all the information to the car hire company, an access code must be given, which will enable the company to access the DVLA database where all the information is stored.

How does the driver get the code?
The driver needs to obtain a specific code from the DVLA website. To get a code, the driver will need their driving licence number, their national insurance number and postcode. 

When does the code expire?
Once issued, the code will be valid for 72 hours/3 days. Any driver wishing to hire a car more than three days into their stay, will need to gain internet access and apply for their code while they are away.

Alternatively, the DVLA will also be issuing a telephone number for UK licence holders to use when abroad.

The new ‘View Your Driving Licence’ website
A new website has been launched – View Your Driving Licence - where drivers can view their convictions, points etc. online. The site will also have details on what type of vehicles the driver is permitted to drive.

Is it law to have this code? 
It is not a legal requirement to have this code to take out car hire, however, some overseas car hire firms – more likely the global, larger car hire businesses – may insist on it. However, smaller companies will probably still ask for the paper copy.

Every car hire company’s terms and conditions will vary; especially those overseas, so it is best to be armed with the new, official, code just in case. It is expected that the code will need to be given when hiring in a car in the UK too.

The general consensus is that the new coding system will not massively affect holidaymakers trying to hire a car overseas. What is more important is that motorists are at least aware of the coding system, should they be asked for it.

The advice from the DVLA is that UK licence holders should destroy their paper documentation after the 8th June.

The AA is issuing advice to the contrary. Speaking about the forthcoming changes, AA President, Edmund King, said, "Not all car rental companies, or indeed traffic police abroad, will be aware of the changes, so a 'belt and braces' approach of also taking the counterpart might help." This is because, as previously mentioned, it is likely that smaller, more provincial car hire companies will not be aware of the DVLA’s changes and that drivers could be refused car hire due to not having the necessary documentations.

RAC advice: RAC spokesperson, Simon Walliams, has the following to say on the new coding system "Our research shows that with just over a month to go before the paper counterpart to the photo-card licence disappears, 55% of drivers are not aware of the planned change.”

Drivers in Northern Ireland need not worry, as these changes will not be made by the issuing DVA.