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Key Changes to British Driving Licenses

This year saw the DVLA get rid of paper licenses and make the switch to an online electronic process. The decision to phase out the green paper sections in favour of an electronic alternative is part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge. The endeavour is designed to reduce regulations for businesses while simultaneously minimising environmental impact. Overall the challenge is set to save the British government around £8 million. The DVLA is also on-board and maintains that the paper license phase out will simplify its services.


Justine Greening, former Transport Secretary explains, “Motorists shouldn’t have to keep numerous bits of paper just to prove they can drive and have bought insurance – we live in digital age and we need to embrace that.”

So what does the change mean for the 46 million British drivers scattered across the country? Read on for an explanation of the new licensing system and some key pointers to help you enjoy a seamless transition.


Creating a License Check Code

If British drivers wish to access information on vehicle category eligibility, penalty points, disqualifications and driving convictions they’ll need to go to www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk and create a one-time License Check Code. This is valid for 21 days and can be accessed by either the driver or an authorised third party such as a car hire company. To generate the code drivers will need to have their licence number, as well as National Insurance number and postcode.


Hiring cars 

In the past car hire companies have requested to view the green paper portion as part of the authorisation process. Now, customer service attendants will be able to head to the DVLA website to view an electronic version of the records. For rental car companies that don’t have access to the internet the DVLA will also operate a hotline where customers can give permission for attendants to disclose details verbally.


Mixed opinions

Unfortunately, the new licensing laws haven’t been quite as well received as the DVLA hoped. The AA is concerned that the changes could “cause confusion” as “not all drivers are comfortable with computers and surfing online.” There is also apprehension regarding the risk of fraud and scams due to electronic hacking. The switch has also been blamed for causing car hire chaos abroad when many Brits found themselves unable to access codes due to a website system failure. The majority of international car hire companies are still unfamiliar with the new laws and there have been cases where Brits have been turned away for failing to produce the now invalid paper portion. To avoid any issues Nationwide Hire is encouraging drivers to consider hiring a car in the UK, then taking advantage of affordable ferry fees to get to European destinations.