If you’re heading off to Europe for your holiday in the next 3 weeks and are intending to hire a car, then we’re pleased to be able to tell you that there is some good news.
The government has agreed to hold fire on the proposed DVLA changes to driving abroad and has given motorists a further 3 weeks to share the extra driving licence details with hire companies instead of 3 days.
The new system which requires motorists to take a special code with them if they wish to hire a car abroad was due to commence on 8th June, following the computerisation of the paper licence counterpart. The check code was introduced so that hire companies could see whether a driver has penalty points on their licences.
The DVLA’s original proposals only allowed the check code to stay valid for 3 days.
However, after lobbying by the car hire companies, the code’s ‘validity’ has now been extended to 21 days.
What has brought about this change of heart? Well, it’s simply pressure applied by the car hire industry and motorists. Car hire companies complained of queues, and drivers complained they may not have internet access while abroad to generate a new code.
The DVLA had said that for those drivers who did not have internet access, a phone number would also be made available – although this is not a 24-hour number. However, this too, proved to be problematic.
The new rules on hiring cars abroad have understandably been warmly welcomed by the industry.
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said:
“We’re pleased that the DVLA has listened to industry feedback that the code lifespan was too short.”
“This common sense approach will reduce queues at rental desks and give millions of renters more time to plan and arrive prepared ahead of their journey,” he added.
Motoring organisations had also expressed concerns that many drivers and car hire companies were unaware of the new system; and those that were found it tricky to use. However, the DVLA had vigorously defended the changes, claiming that the system was not complicated:
“It’s very easy to view and share your driving record. Just go to gov.uk and search for ‘view driving licence’,” said Oliver Morley, the DVLA’s chief executive.
Will the new code be a mandatory requirement for all drivers from now on? 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. However, the advice from the DVLA is that drivers should now destroy the paper licence counterparts. The old-style paper licences, issued before the photo card was introduced in 1998, will, however, remain valid, but holders will still need a code to fully validate them.