posted 4 years ago

DVLA: Driver Licence Paper Counterpart Not Issued From 2015

Motorists Destroy Paper-Based Counterpart From January 2015

The DVLA has confirmed it will stop issuing the photocard licence paper-based  counterpart from January 2015. The purpose of this initiative – that was proposed in 2011 – is to minimise red tape and expenditure for motorists and the authorities. At the time, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: “Motorists shouldn’t have to keep numerous bits of paper just to prove they can drive and have bought insurance - we live in a digital age and we need to embrace that.” Retiring the paper counterpart will have minimal impact on motorists. No action will be required (although licence holders will be permitted to destroy their counterpart if they choose). The photocard element will remain valid and unchanged including entitlements and penalty points, etc. The government recognises that the counterpart is required by some organisations and businesses to confirm facts not available on the photocard. Employers and car hire firms, for example. To compensate, the DVLA is creating a digital enquiry service to provide real time information. Furthermore, it is important to note that the change only relates to the current paper-based counterpart for the photocard driving licence that was introduced in 1998 – not the old paper only licence. Those with the latter are unaffected.

History Of The Driving Licence In The United Kingdom

The driving licence was introduced in the United Kingdom by the Motor Car Act 1903. Holders of this yellow(ish) document – that were not required to pass a test - were entitled to "drive a motor car or motor cycle". The wording changed in 1930 to "drive or steer a motor car or to drive a motor cycle". Shortly afterwards, the document's cover became red and holders could drive a vehicle of "any class or description". The Road Traffic Act 1934 required new motorists to pass a practical test before receiving a licence. There was a short grace period to prevent a rush of candidates, but from June 1935 every motorist - that started driving on/after April 1st 1934 – had to prove he/she was competent. Some of the test elements are still assessed today such as turning in the road. Interestingly, testing was suspended during World War 2 and the Suez Crisis. After various paper-based evolutions, the credit card size photo licence was introduced in 1998 to complement the soon to be retired counterpart. This convenient and secure photocard - albeit with evolutions - is likely to remain the standard format for some time. 


My husband and I only have the paper licence, I called the dvla regarding this when the photo one came out and they said the photo licence was not compulsory, so are we still legal!

Whilst on holiday in Madeira 3 years ago, I was stopped by the police in an Operation Stop they have at certain times in the island.On production of my paper driving license the officer said that my license was no longer valid. I insisted it was but she was having none of it. Eventually she relented and let me go. Are Police forces around the world advised of these changes to the driving licence?

Interesting comments. I often use car rental in Spain, France and Ukraine. They never ask for the counterpart, probably don't know they exist!

I am glad that the UK will supposedly no longer 'require' the paper counterpart for unnecessary proofs, but to destroy it would be foolhardy if you hire cars outside of the UK. They always require them, & probably still will in many parts of the world.

The first and most important rule always has been and always should be is to always put everything in hard copy, never destroy hard copy and make sure everything digital is properly backed up at least twice. Do that and things rarely go wrong but don't and Sod's Law kicks in with a vengeance. I wouldn't trust a Civil Servant as far as I could throw one... Given the choice I would go back to the old red licence - credit card size bits of plastic are ten a penny but nothing looked like the red driving licence; it was something to be proud of. I don't even need a photo licence. I know who I am and those that matter know what I look like. It isn't my problem if somebody won't take my word - this is England and not a Iron Curtain country.

My wife has only a paper license is that still valid she doesn't drive very much maybe 12 times a year. But is competent and safe does the DVLA inform people to change to photocard.

The paper counterpart is proof of your driving record as I have clean licence would have been nice to have

Howard Rippiner has a very good point. I hire a car in Spain several times a year and on every occasion they ask to see the paper part of the licence. Like Howard, I am not sure that all of the car hire offices will have immediate access to the DVLA Database.

I still have the paper counterpart as well as the photo card type. However the paper part has expired.. do I still have to produce it ??wfich

Note to Ian Matterson Isn't it an offence not to notify dvla of your current address?

If you read the top paragraph with respect of paper only licences then apparantly you do not need to worry quote "Furthermore, it is important to note that the change only relates to the current paper-based counterpart for the photocard driving licence that was introduced in 1998 – not the old paper only licence. Those with the latter are unaffected."

I only have a paper licence. What happens next?

Has anyone at DVLA checked with all the car hire companies across Europe (and beyond) to see if they will have immediate access to the DVLA Database? I doubt it. Lack of an easy-to-read paper licence will probably mean your car hire is refused! Great when you've just arrived late at night at a foreign airport with three young kids & your wife for a two-week holiday!

HI, I only have the original paper licence from 1980's which now has the wrong address, do i need to pay for one of those horrible plastic licences? cheers ian

I am not sure databases are totally reliable for penalty points etc, I was stopped a while ago for having no insurance as there was no record on the database. I had my certificate with me and it took the officer about half an hour to get through to the company to see I was insured. Somehow the registration number was incorrect on the database but correct on my certificate. At least the officer had the policy number and the name of the company to work on. I am just wondering if somebody could be showing disqualified on the database at some point when they are not.

This is a step in the right direction - no duplication! I hope it is also the death knell of the proposed personal I.D Card. Why do we need one of them when the plastic Driving Licence already contains all necessary details?

Perfect! A persuasive case for me to trade-in my German licence for the UK one.

Strange establishment the DVLA and it's rules.I've still got my paper license issued 1983,and it's valid document.Why pay extra to get info on plastic card and then you are tied in to pay again when it's short term expirer date is up for renewal!!!!! Not being selfish or anything.Regard to the paper one and could also be the same with the plastic license,if you change your address it's free,but if you want it replaced for other reasons, you pay a fee.Straaaaaaange.

TOTALY AGREE WITH "WHAT HAPPENS" they loose your details??? just like it happened to me from the red licences to the paper type cost me lots of money!!!

Why don't we all get 'chipped' at birth (like dogs') and on this 'chip' is a record containing all your personal details, passport, ID, NI number, driving licence, criminal record, blood group, allergies, etc. I would welcome it, you see this is the future, it will come believe me!!

About time; when I showed the paper licence in Italy & the USA the officials fell about laughing; both said "It could be anyone's!" And so typical Brit to have a Photocard AND a paper counterpart - the British motto being never do anything properly, hotch potch will be all right!

If you have no copy of the groups you have passed and send away for a new licence and they loose your details which as happened in the past how would you prove you had a licence for the groups you have passed without past copys?

Why not just go the next stage and link to a passport, having a passport then becomes a requirement for future drivers. Would save even more money and hassle for everyone! If someone (non police) needs to see driving licence endorsements/ entitlements then they use a one off code which the owner gives them to access the data (like a PIN)

I regularly go abroad on holiday in Europe mostly using a hire car. On every occasion I have been requested to produce the written counter part of my licence so what will happen when we stop issuing such a document??

Ha. Just sent my old 1968 paper one away to change the address

Shame they don't combine the drivers cpc and digital tacho card with the drivers license

I may be old fashion. but I liked the paper version. Im very much still for paper backup!

My wife ONLY has the paper licence. What does she have to do now?

Surly we should do away with all unnecessary paper now. We don't get cover notes for insurance anymore instead we get an email to print if needed. Tax discs are going and so makes sense to scrap the paper part of the licence too. It's same in all other aspects of life too statements are now paper free. Contracts for work are on usb or disc and no longer endless pages of paper. Soon there will be no need for the shredder.

Sense at last. When the 'credit card' licence was introduced it was to do away with the old paper licence, only to be accompanied by another paper licence??

Seems the best thing to do