Don’t be caught out by the new DVLA rules on car hire

New rules on car hire for holders of UK driving licences – which apply wherever you are in the world – were slipped out by the DVLA on Monday.

This had been kept so low profile that even I hadn’t heard about until Sunday, and I get more press releases each day than I know what to do with.  I also have accounts with Hertz and Avis but neither chose to contact me about this.  I knew then that chaos was going to ensue and, as you may have seen in the press, it did.

In summary:

The paper counterpart to your driving licence is no longer valid.  The courts will not update them to reflect any convictions from traffic offences from 8th June.

Car rental companies must now log onto the DVLA website in order to see an online list of your offences.

This can only be done by you giving them a code which you generate from the DVLA website no more than 72 hours before you arrive at the rental office.

If you do not generate a code, the rental office must telephone the DVLA to gain access to your records.  This can only be done during specific UK hours which means you are in trouble if you are in a different time zone.  You must have your National Insurance number available.

None of this applies to Northern Ireland which has its own system.

This is not a truly terrible idea by the DVLA.  It is only the implementation which is terrible.  Keeping the new scheme a secret, for a start, was not exceptionally clever.  Neither was not boosting the bandwidth for the DVLA website which has been unable to cope with the extra number of visitors.

Some rental agencies have now announced that they are waiving the need for a code for a transitional period.  This is excellent news if you have a string of traffic offences, of course, as it means you now get back behind the wheel.

If you are planning to hire a car, this is the site you need to visit to generate a code to give to your car hire company.   Remember that the code is only valid for 72 hours.

If you are dealing with a car rental agency abroad who does not how to use the code, send them to this website where they can input it and bring up a record of your penalty points.

REMINDER: Exclusive £30 Head for Points sign-up code for HotelTonight!
Earn 3,000 Avios for a 2-night stay with Worldhotels
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. I find it amazing that you haven’t heard about this – it’s been on the BBC and I’m sure it was fairly prominent in the Gov.uk website and I think on MSE too. I got an email (albeit badly worded and unclear) from Budget as well.

    • It’s the DVLA that made the change so they should have sent official letters/emails to inform people of the exact change and procedure.

      It’s not acceptable to say to people “you should have heard about it somewhere”

  2. Caution re taking advantage of the fact that car rental company may not know about a string of driving offences. If there is non-disclosure of the offences and a driving accident/incident occurs then the rental company may check and find out about the offences.. Insurance could be prejudiced
    which could prove very expensive.

  3. Dont forget about courtesy cars as well. Took my Audi in for a service this week, received a text day before asking to bring licence and NI number with me. Took car to the garage, service assistant tried to access DVLA system to check my points with no joy it crashed. She asked if i had any points i said no (the truth). I asked how may can i have if i did get a car from them, she explained maximum of 9. Anyway after chit chat she agreed to give it up as a bad job and “will check later” gave me keys to a courtesy car and off i went.

    I doubt very much if she checked but what a joke of a system. That said if i had lied the insurance provided by Audi would be invalid as if failed to declare my points in the event of an accident, i wasnt worried but people need to be aware its not just ‘hiring’ a car its any car for hire or reward….ie hiring, borrowing from a garage etc

  4. Geoggy says:

    Heard about it last weekend. Got code Tuesday, hired Friday, code worked

    Seems simple enough to me

  5. Marlene says:

    I did receive an email from hertz about it. Strangely enough i have rented countless cars in the US and I NEVER been asked for the paper counterparts and they were fast cars…so I don’t know where this rule is coming from, I guess Ive been lucky!

  6. Janeyferr says:

    Avis and Budget emailed me about it. Bit surprised that Enterprise did not, as that’s who I usually use.

  7. europcar email

    A valid driver’s licence for each driver. If you hold a UK driving licence we will need to see either the photocard or the paper licence (whichever applies) and for hires from June 8th onwards, the one-time passcode generated by DVLA’s online licence validation service ‘Share Driving Licence’

  8. Kais Al-Hassani says:

    I went to the web site to generate the code but it cannot recognise my details. I phoned them and they gave me the code.
    I am coming back from my holiday at 2:30am, I cannot generate the code from the web site and it cannot call the office at that time what am I going to do?

    The DVLA are amatures. They have not got plan B when plan A does not work.

  9. Gave it a test run as I’ll need it soon, you get:
    Your check code is:

    Zdp****F

    This code:
    •is case sensitive
    •is only valid for 72 hours
    •can only be used once

    But at least I proved I can be recognised! :)

  10. Thinking about it, another ‘must store online’ document alongside passport scan.

  11. Avis emailed me about this before it came into effect & 2 weeks before my rental.

    • I got an email from Avis on 20th May entitled “Renting with Avis and DVLA UK Counterpart Changes”, as well as having seen stuff in the press beforehand.

      Seems bizarre to bring these changes in during the summer holidays – when presumably car rentals are much higher. Although, like others, I’ve never been asked for my counterpart when hiring abroad.

  12. Chris H says:

    hi, good post for a heads up!

    Just wanted to mention, the DVLA for Northern Ireland now moved over to Swansea to merge with the rest of the UK. Do you know if this impacts NI citizens or not?

    • Tony W says:

      Isn’t the UK driving licence the same format as other European ones?

      Nowhere in all the press coverage about this change (and there has been quite a lot so don’t know how you missed it Rob!) does it say how convictions are handled on the continent. So of I’m a French citizen for example how do the car hire companies check out my record as my understanding is that only the UK had the separate paper counterpart?

  13. Dave R says:

    Hired car from Avis on Monday 8th. Had tried to obtain a code, but the servers were down.
    No bother though as Avis appear to adopt a belt and braces approach: “Have you got any endorsements?”
    “No”
    “Please sign here to confirm that”
    Never had to produce the counterpart in any country (US/Spain) apart from here.

  14. Hi guys,
    It’s funny to see some of the comments here.
    So this paper is (used to) a British invention, so obviously no one out of the UK will ever ask for it.
    Be cool.

  15. Graeme says:

    I collected a car from Budget in Italy on Saturday and there was no mention of it, although I was prepared.

    I’m renting a van in England next week so I’ll be interested to see if they ask.

    It might be a hoop to jump through but it doesn’t take much effort to do so you’d be silly not to.

  16. If you live in England and want to hire a car in Northern Ireland – what is the situation re the Counterpart Driving Licence?