From 08 June 2015, the Counterpart driving licence (which is regularly required to hire a car abroad) will no longer be valid. Here's how it could affect you
As part of a red tape cutting exercise which saw tax discs being abolished in October last year, the move is intended to cut unnecessary costs and make driver records more accessible.
However, due to the poor communication of this significant change, many motorists may now find themselves being turned away from vehicle hire abroad unless they understand the changes and prepare in advance. Previously a person’s paper counterpart licence would be used as evidence of endorsements such as penalty points. Employers and hire car companies could check the counterpart to ascertain the level of risk associated with the driver.
From 08 June, the paper counterpart will no longer have any legal status. Companies who wish to assess a particular driving record will need to check via the DVLA’S new online “share driving licence service”. The licence holder will have to log onto the DVLA’s “view driving licence service” to obtain a single use access code. This will need to be volunteered to the relevant third party who will input the code and the last 8 digits of the relevant driving licence number into a new DVLA “Share Driving Licence service”. The third party will then be able to view all of the relevant information which used to be held on the old style paper counterpart, including endorsements, licence status and details of vehicle driving entitlement. Alternatively, the company can contact the DVLA’s premium rate telephone number to access the driving record with the driver’s consent.
However, those intending to hire a car abroad should be prepared:
The single use access code is only valid for 72 hours. Although 5 codes can be generated within 24 hours, each code can only be used on 1 occasion.
Those wishing to avoid expensive roaming charges or having to waste precious holiday time seeking out the nearest internet cafe should be careful to generate their code immediately before take-off to ensure their code remains valid long enough for them to check in and stretch their legs after a particularly long flight. It would also be prudent to contact the car hire company (if known) in advance to check what documents they require. Some may be unaware of the changes and still request the old counterpart. Others may accept a PDF version of the driving record. However, as with all technological advances that are intended to make our lives easier, there are a number of foreseeable issues could now arise:
System failures and planned maintenance could result in holidaymakers being turned away for car hire when companies fail to gain access to the DVLA site. Or if they’re clued up enough to dial the DVLA’s premium rate phone line as an alternative, motorists could be expected to foot the bill of the expensive call from abroad where several minutes may be spent in line waiting to get through to an operator.
Our top 3 tips for hiring a car abroad this summer:
- Contact the company in advance to ask what evidence they require in light of the changes
- Take the counterpart with you (it’s always best to be prepared for the possibility of staff on the ground being unaware of the changes)
- Familiarise yourself with the local driving laws of your intended destination (for example, drink driving laws can vary hugely between Countries)
Follow our 4 easy steps for sharing a driving record online:
Step one: Log onto the DVLA’s “View Driving Licence” service at www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence.
Step two: Generate your unique code via the “share your driving licence section”
Step three: Make a note of the code and print the PDF summary of the record
Step four: If the car hire company won’t accept the PDF, give them the code. They will then put the code and the last 8 digits of your driver number into the DVLA’s “share driving licence” service to gain an instant summary of your licence.
Forster Dean’s Specialist Motoring Law Department deal with al types of motoring offences, from speeding and totting up to drink or drug driving. If you have been accused of committing a motoring offence and would like advice and representation, call our free advice line on 0333 323 1830.
Article written by Expert Motoring Lawyer, Alison Ashworth; Head of Motoring Law at Forster Dean Solicitors.
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