This June the DVLA scrapped the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence in a bid to cut red tape. However there are some fears that foreign car hire companies will not know about the changes, and this could cause major disruption for British holidaymakers.

What’s changed?

As of 8th June 2015 the paper counterpart to the UK driving licence is no longer valid and is no longer being issued. As the paper counterpart no longer has any legal status, the DVLA is advising motorists to destroy it, keeping your plastic photocard safe. If you have an old-style paper driving licence this will still be valid, so don’t destroy it.

Currently, the paper counterpart is used to record any endorsements (penalty points) that you might have received. From June, these points will be recorded electronically on the DVLA’s driver record. You’ll be able to check your own driver record online, by phone or post.

Should you need to provide evidence of your driving record you’ll be able to download it from the new website, or by sharing your record with them.

Please note these changes do not apply in Northern Ireland.

Hiring a car without your paper counterpart

If you’re planning to hire a car this summer when you’re on holiday you might want to check with the rental company regarding what paperwork they’ll want to see. If you need to show them evidence of what vehicles you can drive or confirmation of any penalty points, you can request a unique code from the DVLA which will allow the hire car company to check your driver record.

This code will only be valid for 72 hours, which will pose a problem if you are not hiring a car immediately on arrival. You’ll also be able to print a copy of your driving licence record to take with you. You can also request a code by calling 0300 083 0013. These changes will also apply if you have an old paper licence issued prior to 1998.

Potential issues

The main difficulty is that we don’t know if all rental car companies will be aware of these changes so this could be an issue, especially if there’s a language barrier. In an article in the Guardian they state that “many car hire companies insist on examining the paper document to check on any endorsements or bans” so this could lead to holidaymakers being refused their hire car.

A spokesperson for Hertz told the Guardian, “We will ask customers for the DVLA one-time pass code, or for the PDF of the driver record, or we will use the DVLA premium-rate line – but this has restricted hours of operation.”

Also within the Guardian article it states that the DVLA insists that the changes to the driving licence have been widely publicised, however few people that the Guardian contacted prior to writing the article were actually aware. It also seems that many hire car companies are also in the dark about the changes. For example, Avis’ booking terms and conditions currently state:  “You must bring your original driving licence with you in both parts if it is a new-style UK licence. Failure to bring both parts may result in the rental being refused.”

Mark Bower of the car hire insurance website told the Guardian that holidaymakers should “follow the DVLA instructions but at the very least take their national insurance number with them.”

Airport Parking & Hotels recommends that motorists planning on hiring a car on holiday this summer do not destroy their paper counterpart as advised by the DVLA, but instead keep it safe and pop it into their suitcase as a backup in case their holiday hire car company hasn’t heard about the changes.

Planning on hiring a car abroad this summer?

Here’s a simple checklist to help avoid any difficulties:

  • Download a copy of your driving licence record, print it out and take it with you
  • Contact DVLA the day before you go on holiday to retrieve your unique code
  • Don’t forget your photocard driving licence!
  • Take your national insurance number card if you have one – otherwise write it down somewhere in case you’re asked for it
  • Take your old paper counterpart with you – just in case
  • Make a note of the number and website the hire car company will need.