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The paper counterpart to your driving licence is no longer valid.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

  • 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!

  • Janeyferr says:

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

  • bob says:

    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’

  • 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.

  • bob says:

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


    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! 🙂

  • bob says:

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

  • scooby99 says:

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

    • ADS says:

      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.

  • 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?

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