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New driving licence rules could stop you renting a car

The DVLA has confirmed that 8th June 2015 is the D-Day for the changeover. The paper counterparts of UK driver’s licences will now have no legal standing whatsoever. The photo-card licence is still legal and will be used in conjunction with a DVLA issued code when picking up hire cars or vans. The new rules will not affect anybody with a one-part paper licence issued prior to 1998 and drivers should NOT shred these.

The new ruling is specific to drivers with licences that have been issued by the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

How is hiring a car after the 8th of June going to be different?

Since the introduction of the two-part driving licence back in 1998, people hiring vehicles have had to produce both parts before hire firms would sign the vehicle over. Now drivers will have to obtain a unique code from the DVLA’s "Share my Driving Licence" webpage. Drivers will then take the code to the hire company where an agent will be able to check what penalty points, if any, the hirer’s licence has.

Important points – The system sounds straightforward, but has a couple of drawbacks that drivers should be aware of. The most important is that the code expires 21 days after it is generated. It is also valid for one use only. Last of all, drivers are restricted to five codes within any 24-hour period.

What vehicle renters need to do

UK driving licence holders scheduled to pick up hire cars on their holidays this year, should take a few cautionary measures to ensure there are no issues when they arrive at the rental outlet. We have put together a few hints to ensure the whole procedure runs smoothly even with non-English speaking hire firm staff:

How to get your access code

  • The link here will take you through the steps needed to get an access code.
  • Write the access code down and make sure you take it together with your photo licence when collecting your hire car.
  • It is also a good idea to make a hard copy of the document with the code on it to cover every eventuality.
    Note! To get an access code you will need:
    a) Drivers Licence number
    b) National Insurance number
    c) current postcode on DVLA records.


Any new system is bound to have problems until people get used to it. The abolition of the licence counterpart will be no different and will be exacerbated by the time restrictions on accessing codes. During the first few months, we are advising renters to phone their vehicle suppliers in advance to find out exactly what is needed. A hard copy of the access code is useful as it lends an aura of officialdom.

Hire company representatives have the option of telephoning the DVLA to get licence details but will typically pass the cost on to the renter. This can add quite a few pounds on to the bill. If abroad, time will be a problem as the service only operates between 08:00 and 19:00 on weekdays and for five hours on Saturdays from 09:00. This 42-hour shutdown over the weekend can be very inconvenient if scheduled to pick up a vehicle and you have forgotten to get the code.

On the 12th of May, the DVLA added another option for drivers to get their codes. By telephoning 0300 083 0013, drivers are able to get their code. Drivers with paper-licences issued before 1998 are also able to use this service. Users who hoped this would be a 24/7 service are in for a disappointment as it has similar opening hours to the online service. The only difference is that it opens up one hour earlier on Saturdays. Drivers or rental firms should only need to call the number if the online service does not create a code or it is inaccessible.


Renters with questions about how the new licence rules will affect them can contact their chosen hire firm. Contact telephone numbers are shown on rental vouchers. The DVLA link here is another option.

period. Not all overseas car rental companies ask for the access codes, but they may and not having one to hand could be inconvenient to say the least.