If you have plans to hire a car either in the UK or abroad, you might need a code from the DVLA. This new system is because of the changes to the paper part of your driving licence that took place on Monday 8th June, when the DVLA switched over to a new online system.
This does not apply to those with driving licence issued by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (also known as the DVA) in Northern Ireland.
Why Has The DVLA Made This Change?
The DVLA decided to make this change in a bid to save motorists “millions of pounds”. It will also change how they share the information they hold about drivers with employers and car hire companies around the world.
However, the AA has stated that there is “widespread confusion as to what drivers now need to do to stay within the law”. If you are unsure about what to do, you can read on to get more information or contact the DVLA on 0844 453 0118 to get more advice.
What Exactly Is Changing?
What is changing will depend on when you passed your driving test, as it varies for those who passed before or after 1998.
Paper Licence (Passed Test Before 1998)
If you passed your driving test before 1998, you should only have a paper licence, unless you have renewed or replaced your licence since and got a photocard and a paper counterpart.
If you have renewed or replaced your licence, please read the next section for those who passed their test after 1998, as this will contain more relevant information.
If you get any points, these will now be recorded online rather than on paper. This means that if you are hiring a car or need to give your employer any evidence of your driving record, you could be asked for a code. Keep reading to find out how to do this.
Photocard & Paper Counterpart (Passed Test After 1998)
You will have a photocard and paper counterpart licence if you passed your driving test after 1998. You could also have one if you have renewed or replaced your old paper licence.
The paper part of the licence is used to record and show any points your may have received for driving offenses such as speeding. As of Monday 8th June, any points that drivers accrue will be recorded online rather than on the paper counterpart, making it useless. You can destroy it if you want to, but you don’t have to; the AA is urging people to adopt a “belts and braces” approach and asking people to keep hold of their paper counterpart for the time being in case there are any issues with the online service.
If you have this sort of licence and are looking to hire a car or need to give your employer evidence of your driving record, you will now need to get a code. More information about this can be found below.
Do I Need To Request A Code To Hire A Car?
The best thing to do if you are going to hire a car abroad is to take a few things with you. These include:
- Your driving licence- whatever format you have it in
- If you have a paper licence, take this
- If you have a photocard and paper counterpart, take both of these
- A print out of your driving record (if you can)
- A code that the hire company can use
You should keep this in mind when requesting codes, as you can’t use the same code to get a print out of your driving record and at the car hire desk. You will need two different codes. Also bear in mind the difference in time zones and journey times.
How Do I Go About Requesting A Code?
You will need to visit the gov.uk online service or call the DVLA on 0844 453 0118 to request a code.
To get a code, you will to have your driving licence number to hand, as well as your National Insurance number and the postcode on your licence. Your driving licence number will follow the format of “ABCDE123456AB1AB”. The “ABCDE” section will be the start of your surname and the first “AB” will be your initials.
You can also download a pdf version of your licence, which would be worth printing and taking with you when you are hiring a car as a backup, but you will still need a code too.
How Do I Check My Code?
To check a DVLA code, you will need to have the last 8 characters of the driving licence, which will follow the format of 123AB1AB, and the check code. Then you will need to visit the gov.uk online facility and enter this information.
Please note that issues could arise for a number of reasons. The first reason is that once a code has been checked, it cannot be used again. You will need to ask for another code if you want to check the information again at a later date after doing it once before.
The second reason you could have problems when checking a code is that it is older than 21 days. You will have to ask the person whose licence you are trying to check to request another code and ensure it is used within the 21 day timeframe.
If you have any issues, you should get in touch with the DVLA.
Will My Hire Company Check My Driving Licence?
If you are hiring a car in the UK, it is a legal requirement for the company to check your full driving licence, which means they will need to see your driving record in place of the paper counterpart.
When visiting other countries and hiring a car abroad it varies from country to country. Some hire companies will ask to see the paper counterpart if you have a photocard, so they can check any points you have received in the past. The chances are they are likely to continue to check, but use the online method. It is always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it isn’t it.
Is There An Alternative Method To Requesting A Code?
You can give the car hire company permission to contact the DVLA and check the details over the phone when you get to the car hire desk.
However, please be aware that this could incur additional service charges or international call costs.
What Do I Need To Do With My Paper Counterpart?
The advice of the DVLA is to destroy the paper counterpart. However, the AA is encouraging motorists to keep hold of it, just in case there are any issues with the online service.
There are also concerns that companies or traffic police abroad may not be aware of the changes, so it might be best to take both parts if you are planning to hire a car for your holiday.
Please remember that you SHOULDN’T destroy traditional paper licences. You will have got one of these licences if you passed your test before 1998.
What Will Happen If I Get Points Or A Fine?
You will still need to submit your licence and pay any fines you receive. It is the way that offences are recorded that has changed, with them now only being recorded online, rather than being physically added to the paper part of your photocard licence or your old paper style licence.
If you submit your whole photocard licence (photocard and paper counterpart) to record a fine, you will only have the photocard sent back to you.
If you send off an old paper licence it will be sent back to you and any points will be recorded online instead.
What Do The Changes Mean For Those Who Drive For A Living?
There is no difference for those who drive for a living. If you need to provide an employer with a copy of your driving record, you should also use the gov.uk online service and any codes you get will be valid for 21 days. You will also have the option to print a PDF copy if you want to.
An Employee Has Given Me A DVLA Code, How Do I Check It?
Employers need to check the codes in the same way as anyone else. Find more information out here.