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Changes to UK Driving Licence

Mon, 03/08/2015
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The Government has recently announced that from 8th June 2015 the paper counterpart to the UK driving licence photo card is invalid and holds no legal status, and the DVLA have instructed that they may be destroyed, retaining only the photo card. But is it as simple as that?

Most people have a paper counterpart driving licence and a driving licence photo card – whilst some motorists simply have the paper driving licence (as they have never deemed it necessary to apply for a photo card).

If you only have the paper version of the driving licence then you should retain this, as this remains as your driving licence.

The paper counterpart was introduced with the photo card licence in 1998 as a means of recording driving and vehicle entitlements as well as fines and endorsements for motoring offences.

In an effort to modernise the driving licence system, and as a result of the governments Red Tape Challenge consultation on road transportation, the decision to abolish the counterpart was taken.

Categories of vehicles you are entitled to drive, fines and endorsements are now recorded electronically at DVLA and are not recorded on to the photo card driving licence or the older style paper driving licence.

If you commit a driving offence you will still need to send your licence, paper or photo card, to the court. The court will then record the fines and endorsements on a new electronic system and return your driving licence to you. If you are surrendering a photo card style licence with the counterpart, the courts will only return the photo card section and the counterpart will be destroyed for you. If you surrender a paper driving licence this licence will be returned to you but will not have been written or printed on.

Paper driving licences issued before 1998 when the photo card licences were introduced are still valid but will be replaced with a photo card when you next need to update your name, address or renew your licence.

As neither the photo card nor the paper driving licences now give an accurate representation of your driving entitlements or endorsements the DVLA have introduced an additional service which allows you to access your driving licence details online, by phone or by post. This service also allows you to share these details with employers, vehicle hire companies and anyone you may wish to share your driving licence details with. For instance, if you drive for a living your employer may need to check which categories of vehicles you are entitled to drive or to check for endorsements on a regular basis for insurance purposes. Similarly, if you wish to hire a vehicle, the hire company may also need to check that you have an entitlement to drive the vehicle you are looking to hire, and also to check for endorsements you may have, before agreeing the hire of the vehicle.

Arranging the release of this information is comparatively straightforward. Visit the website to get a ‘Check Code’ which you can then pass on to your employer, hire company, etc. The ‘Check Code’ will give them access to view your current driving licence details only. They will not be able to see your licence history (expired endorsements, etc). The ‘Check Code’ is valid for 21 days allowing them to check the details they need, print or save a copy and the “Check Code” then becomes defunct after this period of time. If they wish to access your details after this period of time they will have to ask you for another code. You may have up to 15 ‘Check Codes’ active at any one time. If you can’t access this online you can also call DVLA on 0300 083 0013 who will provide you with a code. Alternatively you can call DVLA on 0300 790 6801 and leave permission for a certain person or organisation to call up and access your information verbally over the phone.

For most people the only time that these new procedures may have any impact is if they were looking to hire a vehicle (either in the UK or abroad). Different hire companies have their own policies on checking driving details and these vary significantly, so it is best to check with your individual hire firm when making your booking as to which method they require.

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