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Confusion with the obsolete paper counterpart when hiring a car

Although UK paper counterpart driving licences are now obsolete, it may well be worth keeping hold of them when hiring a car abroad.


Since June 8th uncertainty has become the order of the day for anyone wishing to hire a car abroad. The DVLA has done away with the need for a paper counterpart to our driver’s licence, requiring us all to only have a plastic photo card and there has been widespread reports on the confusion this has caused and advice had been offered to those who drive abroad that they may want to wait a while before totally relying on photo card as proof of any entitlement to drive a vehicle. Although we have been told it is safe to “destroy the paper counterpart”, there have been reports of drivers being caught up in a chaotic system and consequently falling foul of administers abroad who are not in synch with our new paperless system and with car hire firms who rely on the paper part to ascertain a driver’s legal standing.


In order to help clarify any confusion, drivers were told to go online and create a security code on the DVLA website (or give them a call if you were unable to access the internet). This code would be valid for up to 21 days and could be used to validate any car hire agreement until photo cards alone are accepted. You could email the code to yourself and/or print it off for safe keeping. But now motorists have been told that they could be wasting their time and there is no need to fill out what has been described as a “complex online form”. It has transpired that not many of the main car hire companies are even requesting the code and is not a legal requirement in any case.


Car hire companies are being contacted by worried drivers from the UK who are confused as to where they stand and what to do to simply hire a vehicle abroad. The DVLA say that more than 1.2 million codes have been generated since June 8th and most of the main car hire companies are insisting that all drivers need to provide by way of documentation are passports, the photo card part of the licence and a credit card. Two of the largest companies Avis and Budget will not be asking UK customers at any time for an online code or a printed counterpart to their licence, stating that in many parts of the world the paper part has not been required and would not be required from drivers from the UK either. A spokesperson at the DVLA said : ‘It is not a legal requirement. There is no standardised practice. It is at the discretion of the individual car hire firms.” He went on to add: ‘It’s a bit of a lottery in terms of which car hire firm you go to.’



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