We’re anticipating chaos as the DVLA scraps paper counterpart driving licenses as of June 8th this year.
Following the recent death of the tax disc, the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will no longer be issuing paper driving licences. This means as of June 8th, if you send off for a renewed license or need to make any address changes you will only be sent a photocard back. All your license information will now be stored on electronically on a database, and will only be accessible via phone, post or online. At first this seems like a simple and safe way to go as it means less paperwork to look after, but when facing the reality of this decision by the DVLA, is it really going to be as straightforward and hassle-free as we first thought?
What are the benefits?
The government claim the removal of the counterpart license is a purge on unnecessary paper and part of a major ‘Red Tape’ abolition policy which claims to save an estimated £8 million.
It also aligns to the DVLA’s Strategic Plan, which sets out the agency’s direction for the next three years. Their aim between now and 2017 is to “simplify the policy and technology landscape to improve customer service, give a better result for the taxpayer and fee payers and make it easier for safer drivers to get on the road”.
A DVLA spokesman said: “There is up-to-date information on the website and we are working closely with the industry to ensure that their systems and processes are ready for the changes.”
How does it affect me?
If you have a paper driving license issued before the photocard was introduced in 1998, this will remain valid and you should not destroy it. The next time you make any changes to this license, you’ll be issued with a photocard only.
What do I do with my paper driving license now?
If you have a two-part license, with a photocard and a paper counterpart, you will need to keep your photocard but safely dispose of your paper part after June 8th as it will have no legal status beyond this date. Penalty points will now be held on the DVLA’s digital driver record, which you’ll be able to access online or by phone.
What problems might this cause?
The biggest problem we’re forecasting will be for holidaymakers this summer. As we all know, to hire a car abroad up until now you are asked to produce both parts of your driving license and all the other relevant documents. So what’s going to happen now that we’ve been told to destroy our paper counterparts?
As a customer looking to hire a car abroad you’ll need to log onto the DVLA’s website before you leave and put in your driving license number and national insurance number. The system will generate a unique one-time passcode which you can give to the representative at the car hire company when you arrive at your destination. Seems simple enough, right?
Unfortunately, it isn’t. The code you are given by the DVLA is only valid for 72 hours, so if you’re hiring a car any more than two or three days into your trip it will have expired. In this scenario, you’ll need to log onto the DVLA website from whatever country you’re visiting and input all the details again to generate a new code. No problem if you have a smartphone with online capabilities, you’re happy to pay the data roaming charges and you can remember your national insurance number.
If you don’t have these things, the car hire company may well be able to contact the DVLA themselves on their premium rate line (charged at up to £3 per minute) to verify your driver status, however it seems even this is not as simple as it sounds. A spokeswoman from Hertz rental company said “We will ask customers for the DVLA one-time pass code … or we will use the DVLA premium-rate line – but this has restricted hours of operation.”.
Mark Bower, from the car hire insurance company MoneyMaxim, has predicted this will not be a smooth transition for most people. He said “Most people are simply unaware that these changes are on the way, and it is not just renters. … I spoke to one big car hire firm in Portugal this week and they knew nothing of the changes.”
Most major car hire companies still state in their Terms & Conditions the paper counterpart must be produced, so we’re anticipating confusion this summer!
It appears it’s not just holidaymakers that are sceptical about this change. Car dealers are also warning that this abolition of the paper counterpart license could cause complications when trying to conduct the simplest test drives. Insurers will require dealers to carry out one or more of the available additional checks, including the use of a premium rate phone line and the View My License or Share My License portals online.
So are we all ready for this huge change which will be rolled out in just three weeks time? Share our blog and let’s spread the word to avoid chaos this summer!