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On the 8th June this year, the DVLA scrapped the paper counterpart from the UK driving license system. It was anticipated that removing the counterpart would cause potential problems for holidaymakers looking to hire a car abroad this summer - as reported in Call Wiser’s Guide to Holiday Car Hire.
Before handing over the keys to their rental vehicles, car hire companies have traditionally relied on the paper counterpart to check their customers for driving restrictions, penalties and endorsements, so it was feared that removing the counterpart would cause confusion at some foreign rental offices who would be unaware of the changes made to the UK licensing system.
To get around these issues, the DVLA created an online portal where driving license details can be checked remotely. However, for somebody else to check the license information, the license holder is required to obtain a ‘check code’, details of which can be found in the original article.
The main issue with the process was that the ‘check code’ was originally valid for just 72 hours, which provided a very tight window for holidaymakers or business travellers to obtain their codes, before needing to collect their rental vehicles.
This 72 hour restriction relied on drivers to remember to obtain their codes shortly before their departure and prevented them from planning in advance.
The system also provided very little flexibility for those holidaymakers who might require or decide to hire a rented vehicle later on in their trip.
The only workaround was to try and obtain the codes whilst away, either by telephone or internet, which would require the driving licence number and the National Insurance number of the holder.
However, some companies advised retaining the paper counterpart against the DVLA’s advice, to take on holiday, despite the fact that it ceased to hold any legal status.
Following a number of complaints from motorists however, the DVLA has recently announced that the validity of the check code would be increased from 72 hours to 21 days.
Pete Williams, head of external public affairs at the RAC said “This is a dramatic U-turn from the DVLA” and has called the move “a victory in common sense”.
“The big question is why was the validity of the ‘share your licence’ code fixed at three days in the first place, Particularly as the system was brought in on the back of the abolition of the paper counterpart, which took the DVLA typically far longer to update with new endorsements.”
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) said: “This common sense approach will reduce queues at rental desks and give millions of renters more time to plan and arrive prepared ahead of their journey.”
However, the BVRLA still think that more can be done to improve the process.
“We think that the DVLA should extend the opening hours of its call centre, because not all renters have access to the internet,” said Keaney.
“The agency should also waive the cost of the premium line telephone service that is used to check endorsements when motorists turn up without a code.”
The DVLA should also be more flexible on the ID required to view driving licence information online. “Most travellers would find it easier to provide a passport number than a National Insurance number.”
Hiring a car abroad can be an essential part of many holidays, providing a convenient means of getting to your destination, getting out and about and exploring the local area.
To make sure that you’re not caught out this summer, Call Wiser has prepared this useful guide to holiday car hire. Read more...
Rising temperatures and extra holiday traffic can put extra demand on your journeys at this time of year. However, a little planning and preparation can go a long way to help keep your stress levels under control and your vehicle moving. Read more...