Drivers Beware: Motorists Warned of Future Problems When Hiring Cars Abroad.

Are you intending to travel in Europe this summer? Are you planning on hiring a car during that time?

Do you have any current driving endorsements or convictions for motoring offences? Well, there are some important DVLA changes that are due to come into effect in June this year. These changes could affect your motor insurance arrangements, and could impact on your ability to drive abroad.

Harold Stock & Co Solicitors thought you should be forewarned about any potential problems when hiring cars abroad.


So what are the planned changes? Well, 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. The reason for this is that from that date, the paper counterpart of British driving licences – which records endorsements and fines – is being computerised. However, the changes do not apply to driving licences issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland.

The problem for motorists is that many car hire companies require motorists to declare any current driving endorsements and convictions for offences, like speeding. Declarations on the driving licence paper counterpart have always previously been sufficient. However, because these paper documents are being replaced, motorists will have to show a code which they will need to obtain from the DVLA website before travelling.

That might sound simple enough, but the problem is 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 motorists who have internet access, that shouldn’t be a problem. If they don’t have that facility available, they will need to call a DVLA hotline and that could be both time-consuming and expensive.

Will the new code be a mandatory requirement for all drivers?

Well, no – not necessarily. 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 advice from the DVLA is that drivers should destroy the paper licence counterparts after 8 June. However, 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.

What have motoring organisations made of the planned changes? Well, the RAC has said that it is important that the information be made more readily available as many drivers were completely unaware of the proposed changes. According to RAC spokesman, Simon Williams:

“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.”

The AA, on the other hand is advising people to hang on to the paper documents, as it feels some hire companies may also be unaware of the new arrangements. AA president, Edmund King, said:

“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 information provided by the DVLA left a lot to be desired, and claimed the situation was still far from ideal:

“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.”

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