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The European Car Hire Fiasco

For those of you who embark on holiday and decide to rent out a hire car, save the date - June 8th - as the UK driving license changes prepare to cause a summer of chaos. From this date, the paper part of the UK driving licence, the counterpart, will be scrapped in favour of a new online system and replaced with something that could turn out to be more troublesome. The counterpart license is currently used to keep a record of any fines or points that are associated with your licence, however from this summer will cease to be valid.

The reason behind the change is courtesy of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the hopes to move to an easier, cleaner and more streamlined system for everyone. However, the change could cause confusion for overseas car-hire companies, as any points or fines that would normally be imprinted upon the paper part of the license will now only be viewable online.

Holidaymakers will instead be required to log on to the DVLA website and input their driving license details. They will then be presented with a special code that is presented to the car hire company to check their record. All sounds straight forward, right?

The potential downside to this new system is that each unique code is only valid for up to 72 hours, of which after this time, individuals will have to log in again to obtain a new code. This means that travellers could be forced to obtain more than one code if they need to use a hire car for more than 3 days, as well as the additional cost of logging into the internet whilst you are already abroad (either roaming charges on your phone or having to find wi-fi).

Another cause of concern is that European car companies could refuse the use of the DVLA codes if they are not familiar with the new changes and instead ask to see the paper version of your license, which would effectively be void. Customers run the risk of being turned down if the companies are unable to easily check individuals driving history.

Shocking stats reveal that as many as 55% of UK drivers are unaware of the upcoming changes to the system, with less than a month to go before the launch. The changes only apply to those with the new style photo-card driving license and counterpart, not the older paper-only version which will still be valid. Anyone who holds a Northern Ireland driving license will also be unaffected by the new changes.

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