Driving Abroad This Summer

Posted on July 15th, 2009 by GEM Motoring Assist

When travelling abroad most of us remember to check that our passports are still valid, but how many of us remember to check our driving licence photo-cards? A consumer poll conducted by not-for-profit Roadside Recovery Organisation, GEM Motoring Assist, which also has a Road Safety arm, reveals that nearly half of those surveyed were unaware that they needed to renew their driving licence photo-card within ten years!

Years ago, when a new licence came through the letter box it was always fun to read the date when it was due to expire – something like 2043 – way, way in the future and it was impossible to comprehend ever becoming 70 years old!

That has all changed since the introduction of photo-card licences. Paper licences are still valid until our 70th birthday but a photo-card is only valid for 10 years and must be renewed. Despite this new law, the poll also showed that around 75% of drivers surveyed did not know when their licence was due for renewal. GEM Motoring Assist is warning drivers to check the expiry date on their photo-card and have a look at the small date on the front of the photo-card licence, section 4b.

Imagine the scene at a foreign airport after a long trip with the family, standing at the car hire desk in the sweltering heat and finding out that it is not possible to hire a car because your photo-card is out of date. GEM’s poll also revealed that 4 out of 10 drivers were not aware that both the paper and photo-card licence is required when hiring a car abroad and in the UK, which could cause even more problems. Plus, approximately 3 in 10 admitted that they do not carry either parts of their driving licence with them on a daily basis.

Photo-cards were first introduced nearly 11 years ago and seemingly there are some 40 thousand people who have not renewed their photos and are in danger of jeopardising being able to hire a car in this country or abroad, not to mention they will be driving illegally in the UK without a valid driving licence and face a fine of up to £1,000!

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) say that they will send a renewal application pack two months before a photo-card licence is due to expire, but not everyone gets the letter – it may go astray in the post, or the holder may have just moved house or like many of us, simply be over-run with junk mail that simply doesn’t get opened.

David Williams, CEO of GEM Motoring Assist said: “We would urge anyone who has held a photo-card licence for a number of years to check their licence
for the renewal date. People should also be aware that if for any reason they have had their photo-card licence replaced due to loss or a house move it will still only be valid until the original date from when it was first issued.

If drivers look 10 years younger on their driving licence photograph then they are probably due a new one – and if they do need to renew, drivers must remember to factor this into their holiday budget, the £20 the DVLA will charge to make the change” added Mr Williams.