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The paper counterpart to your driving licence is no longer valid.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

  • bob says:

    btw £1000 fine if your address is incorrect on your licence – and they DO enforce this.

    Free to change it, though.

  • bob says:

    I got my first photo DL in 2010 but they only gave me 6 years validity. It was a free address change one.

    Do you reckon I have a case for those missing 4 years?

  • Swanhunter says:

    Avis did email a couple of weeks ago about this. Picked up a car from Hertz last night and they had no interest in code or paper bit!

  • stealthmoose says:

    I received an email from Hertz. Also hired in Greece yesterday at Hertz. No code was asked for neither was my licence, although I’m a Gold member, so my details are on record.

  • takke says:

    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 website and I think on MSE too. I got an email (albeit badly worded and unclear) from Budget as well.

    • Will says:

      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”

  • Mike says:

    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.

  • Nick says:

    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

  • Geoggy says:

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

    Seems simple enough to me

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