Driving license paper counterpart scrapped

The UK driving license paper counterpart has been scrapped, with driver information now available via the DVLA’s MyLicense online service.

From now on, the DVLA will no longer issue the paper counterpart with new licenses, or when issuing an updated license – e.g. for a change of address. Only a new photocard will be sent out.

The move comes after the abolition of the paper tax disc last October. Both are part of a drive to reduce red tape, saving an estimated £8 million per year. The MyLicense service is a joint venture between the DVLA and the Motor Insurers Bureau, allowing drivers to check their details online.

Any endorsements – points and convictions – previously displayed on the counterpart will be recorded electronically and available to view via MyLicense by the license holder and any relevant interested parties. Insurance companies, for example. However, they will need the license number and permission from the holder to check.

Paper-only driving licenses – issued before 1998 – will remain valid, but any holders with will be issued with a photocard under the new system when they update/renew.

Though counterparts should now be destroyed, they can still be used to make any changes to the holder’s details. Otherwise, all changes can now be made via MyLicense.

Government has a habit of botching new IT projects; there was outrage when the online system for renewing road tax nearly crashed under the weight of demand on the day the paper disc was abolished – largely due to bad information that gave the false impression you could only buy road tax online. But when I came to renew my road tax a few months later, the process was completely painless. Hopefully, MyLicense will function properly, as well.

There are two major potential pitfalls, though. Up until now, car hire companies have always required that the counterpart be presented before handing the keys over. Under such circumstances now, license holders need a code from the DVLA website, which will be valid for 72 hours. Codes will also be available over the phone. The time limit may require careful planning, but the real problem may lie in a lack of familiarity with the new system in foreign countries.

Equally, there will be issues when it comes to test driving cars at dealerships, or using any car covered by a corporate insurance policy – e.g. company fleet vehicles. Checks can be carried out via a premium rate phone line and the View My License or Share My License online portals. Dealerships will be under particular pressure, as any lack of efficiency in the process could sour the whole experience for any potential customers.

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By Only Motors

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