Drivers warned over potential car hire confusion abroad

Posted on April 28th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 13.56.17Drivers could soon face disruption when renting a car abroad following the DVLA’s decision to abolish the paper counterpart of the British driving licence. The paper licence, which carries information on endorsements and fines, is being scrapped from June 8 with a move to a computerised system. This means anyone wanting to hire a car abroad will need a code to give to the rental firm so they can see convictions for offences like speeding. To obtain the code drivers will have to contact the DVLA before travelling.

However, the code will only be valid for 72 hours (please note this was extended to 21 days as of 10 July 2015), so anyone wanting to hire a car more than three days into their trip may need to generate a new code while they are abroad. Travellers can print out copies of their driving record, but there are concerns certain car rental companies abroad won’t be familiar with the new rules and not accept them.

Research shows that with just over a month to go before the paper counterpart to the photo-card licence disappears, 55 per cent of drivers are not aware of the planned change. Some car rental companies are unaware of the new arrangements, and motoring groups have even advised against destroying paper licences, even if they will effectively be useless after 8 June. Not all car rental companies, or indeed traffic police abroad, will be aware of the changes, so a ‘belt and braces’ approach of also taking the counterpart might help.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) said the situation still was not clear. “Due to the short notice provided by the DVLA and the need to thoroughly test the new system, many car rental companies are still finalising their plans for the UK and abroad,” said a BVRLA spokesperson.

The changes do not apply to driving licences issued in Northern Ireland.