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

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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The paper counterpart to your driving licence is no longer valid.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.

Comments (64)

  • Simon Schus says:

    AMEX were fairly good as they told me about the changes when I phoned them up about car rental.


  • Alan says:

    Hertz emailed me about this earlier in the week and I saw some coverage about it on the Beeb a couple of weeks ago. Realistically I’ve yet to be asked for my paper counterpart previously, esp when a member of a loyalty scheme with the car hire company.

  • Nick M says:

    I booked a hire car last weekend for a rental from next week… I was aware of the changes but they haven’t pointed them out to me, all of the automated emails are still saying to bring paper counterparts… will be generating codes today and digging out counterparts too

  • Martin R says:

    I generated a code yesterday (Thursday) whilst in Las Vegas for a collection today.
    I didn’t need it, wasn’t asked for it, or the paper counterpart.

  • James67 says:

    What happens to those with a UK license but no NI number?

    • JQ says:

      Dunno. I guess you won’t be allowed to rent with Hertz in the UK, Angola, Austria, Bahrain, Balearics, Botswana, Canaries, Croatia, Namibia, Oman, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden and Tunisia.

  • RK says:

    I have rented cars outside the UK 10-20 times over the last 5 years and never once have I been asked for the counterpart. In the US, I would be almost certain they would never ask.

    • mike says:

      Also rented about 20 times in continental Europe, never been asked once. Both times I rented in the UK I was asked. Once I didn’t have it and they charged me £5 to call up DVLA. Don’t know why they place the burden on the public? This should be an arrangement between the rental companies and the DVLA.

      • Martin Deutsch says:

        I think, in the past, car rental companies could call the DVLA on an 090 number, so perhaps they were recouping the cost.

    • Nick says:

      Same with me RK. I’ve rented all over the US, every year for over 35 years now, and have never had a request for the paper counterpart from Avis, Hertz, National, Alamo or Budget.

  • Frankie says:

    Hi Raffles. I had to follow this new procedure to pick up a car at Belfast International airport on Thursday from Budget. So it must apply to N.I. too. They told me that if someone didn’t arrive with a print off or a code they could phone the DVLA during office hours. Alternatively they could look up online with a driver licence number and national insurance number. But if the DVLA office was closed and you’d no NI# then the agent told me you’d not get a car!

    • Frankie says:

      Do you mean people who have licences issued in Northern Ireland are unaffected, rather than people who are hiring cars in Northern Ireland without Northern Irish issued licences?

      • sandgrounder says:

        The DVLA do not licence drivers or vehicles in NI, the DVLNI do. It does not apply to people with DVLNI licences, only people in GB with DVLA licences. It’s not the location of hire which is important.

    • JQ says:

      What if you’ve prepaid for one?

  • Rob Al says:

    Not sure how you didn’t hear about this – it’s been in the news for months. I even checked out my own account about 8 weeks ago!

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