Driving licence counterpart abolished

Drivers need to plan ahead if hiring a car at home or abroad

The paper counterpart to the photocard licence was abolished from 8 June 2015

The paper counterpart to the photocard licence was abolished from 8 June 2015

The paper counterpart to the photocard licence was abolished on 8 June 2015 and information about penalty points will now only be held on DVLA's online driver record.

This change does not affect paper driving licences issued before the photocard was introduced in 1998, nor does it affect licences issued by DVA in Northern Ireland where the counterpart remains a valid and legal part of the licence.

More than a third of drivers who have hired a car abroad in the past 5 years have been asked to show their photocard driving licence paper counterpart. The document showed a driver’s record, including offences and endorsements, but has now been abolished.

Experience when hiring a car abroad

An AA-Populus poll, responded to by 28,221 AA members last month, found that 30% of them have hired a car abroad in the past five years.

Of those, 21% have made use of the old-style paper driving licence, which includes a driver’s record. A further 43% have the newer photocard licence but have not been asked for the counterpart when hiring a foreign car.

However, it is the 36% who have rented a vehicle abroad and been asked to show their licence record that now raises concern about what will happen this summer.

Belt and braces

Although the paper counterpart has been rendered invalid, the AA is advising its members not to tear up their counterparts just yet, but to take them abroad as a ‘belt and braces’ measure if they intend to hire a vehicle. It is possible that hirers overseas, who have been used to checking a British driver’s paper record in the past, may not know of the change and still ask to see the counterpart.

AA advice

Anticipating that some car hire companies overseas may not immediately be aware of this change, the AA recommends that you retain your paper counterpart if you intend hiring a car abroad rather than following DVLA advice and destroying it.

Additionally you should:

  • Print your own driving licence record from DVLA's website - you'll need to know your driving licence number, national insurance number and your home address post code.
  • Obtain a code from the DVLA's 'share driving licence' service that you can pass to a third party (employer, hire car company). The code will be valid for 21 days and will give them one-off access to your online driving licence record to verify the printed copy.
  • Make a note of your national insurance number if you intend to hire a car more than 3 weeks into travelling overseas.

The AA wonders if cross-referencing driver details with their passport numbers may be a further option to consider for improving customer service – at least holidaymakers will have those with them when they go abroad

Edmund King, AA president

Teething problems

“With a third of AA members having to produce their licence paper counterpart when hiring a car abroad, the possibility of teething problems this summer is a concern. What we don’t want to see are UK drivers, who may not be aware of the change or may bump into the unexpected such as the main driver becoming ill, being obliged to hire from dodgy car rental firms who don’t care about the driver’s record,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

“Whilst most drivers will be happy to see the back of the cumbersome paper part of the photocard licence, there is widespread confusion as to what they should now do to ensure they stay within the law and what documentation will be required at the rental check-in desk.

“Taking a copy of your driving licence on-line record will, hopefully, get holidaymakers through this summer, but a re-think may be needed if problems develop. One of the potential pitfalls may be drivers not knowing their national insurance number. which is essential to gain access to the on-line record. The AA wonders if cross-referencing driver details with their passport numbers may be a further option to consider for improving customer service – at least holidaymakers will have those with them when they go abroad. The DVLA already cross references photocard driving licences with the passport office.” 


(updated 14 July 2015)