Motorists warned about problems hiring cars abroad

By Brian Milligan
Personal Finance Reporter

  • Published
Driving licence counterpartImage source, DVLA
Image caption,
Paper counterparts to driving licences will not be valid after June 8 2015

Motorists going abroad after 8 June are being warned they may need to take a special code with them if they want to hire a car.

From that date the paper counterpart of British driving licences - which records endorsements and fines - is being computerised.

Anyone wanting to hire a car abroad could need a code to show convictions for offences like speeding.

To obtain it, motorists will have to log on to the DVLA website beforehand.

But the code is only valid for 72 hours, 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.

For those who do not have internet access, a phone number will also be made available.

However, the code is not an official requirement and it will depend on the individual hire company's terms whether or not it is required.

The RAC said many drivers were unaware of the changes.

"Our research shows that with just over a month to go before the paper counterpart to the photo-card licence disappears, 55% of drivers are not aware of the planned change," said RAC spokesman Simon Williams.

'Belt and braces'

The DVLA recommends destroying paper counterparts after 8 June.

However the AA is advising people to hang on to the document, in case some hire companies are unaware of the new arrangements.

"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," said AA president Edmund King.

But the AA also said that hiring a car abroad without a paper counterpart is not always a problem.

Just as some car hire companies do not currently ask for a counterpart, not all will ask for a code after 8 June.

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 old-style paper licences, issued before the photo card was introduced in 1998, will remain valid, but holders will still need a code to fully validate them.

To view a record of their convictions, motorists can log on to the View My Driving licence page of the government website.

They will need their driving licence number, their national insurance number and their postcode.

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

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