Don’t let new car hire rules ruin your holidays

Important changes to UK licences will impact hiring cars

As a part of an exercise to be more cost effective, the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is abolishing the paper counterpart that has accompanied drivers’ photo-card licences since they were introduced in 1998. It is replacing it with an online system called View my Driving Licence which enables people to access a digital copy of their records pertaining to disqualifications, endorsements and classes of vehicles they are permitted to drive.

The DVLA has confirmed that the 8th of June 2015 is D-Day for the new system and drivers can throw away the old counterpart section of any valid UK driving licence. This does not apply to drivers in possession of a paper licence issued pre-1998. The DVLA says these licences are still legal and MUST NOT be destroyed. What will change for holders of these old paper licences is that any court imposed penalties will not be recorded on them. Logs of these will be digitalised on the DVLA database as well.

These changes only affect DVLA licences and not Northern Ireland DVA issued ones or ones from any other country.

The DVLA is still finely tuning the new regulations to better serve the UK’s 46 million drivers. To this end it is constantly updating details and we will show these at the end of the page as soon as they are released.

How will the 8th of June changeover affect me when hiring a car?

When the DVLA introduced two-part driving licences in 1998, hire car firms responded by asking renters to bring both the photo-card and its paper counterpart with them when they picked up their vehicles. The requirements remained the same for those with pre-1998 licences. From the 8th of June, UK drivers with either genre of licence will only be able to obtain an up-to-date record online.

To deal with the issue of employers or car rentals firms needing access to the driver’s records, the DVLA is also introducing Share my Driving Licence. Drivers who need to supply their licence details to a third party, such as a hire firm, log on to this webpage and generate a unique authorisation code. They then hand the code to the rental firm clerk who uses it to check the driver’s information.

A note on restrictions - As is the case with all good things, they have downsides. With Share my Driving Licence its limitations are the codes run out 21 days after creation and can be used just once. Another issue might be that any one driver is only able to request five codes inside 24 hours.

Getting ready to get your hire car

Anybody hiring vehicles while the DVLA procedures are still in their infancy needs to be prepared to deal with minor issues. If renting abroad, the lack of common language fluency will also make the process a little more stressful. To smooth the way out onto the highway with your rental car we recommend:

How to get your access code

  • Clicking on this link here which will take you straight through the process of acquiring a check code.
  • Ensure you write the check code down and keep it safe. When you go to the hire depot, give the code and your licence to the on-duty clerk.
  • It can’t hurt to make a hard copy of the code so that you have corroborative proof of the number.
    Note! To get an access code you will need:
    a) Drivers Licence number
    b) National Insurance number
    c) current postcode on DVLA records.


As noted, car hire providers in the UK and overseas are expecting problems with the licence checks when the system first launches. Not every overseas company will need to see the licence, or a print of your driving record, but the requirements are randomly enforced. If you have the code in your possession you won’t be frantically trying to get one when you should be setting off for your final destination. The hard copy of the code is also useful in that it halts any arguments over illegible or poor handwriting.

If the hire firm representative is not given a code, he or she will ask for your permission to phone the DVLA for your details. You will be billed for this service and, with every minute costing 51p, your cheap car rental will not work out so cheap after all. This service has its limitations too. The lines are only manned from 08:00 to 19:00 on weekdays. If you need the code over the weekend, your window of opportunity is restricted to 09:00-14:00 on Saturdays.

On the 12th of May 2015, the DVLA launched an additional phone-in line. People with any kind of DVLA licence can call 0300 083 0013 and ask for a licence check code. Despite demands for a 24/7 service, this line is not much more convenient than the original as it keeps similar operational hours. The key difference is that it opens at 08:00 on Saturdays. Due to the high costs of phoning, getting the code free online beforehand is the better solution.


Drivers with queries about anything related to the introduction of the new code procedures for car hire can get more information by telephoning their supply firm on the number printed on the voucher. This DVLA page deals with FAQs.