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Car hire Britons get licence boost

Published 10/07/2015

Motorists have had to obtain a special online code to give to hire companies to check their penalty point records
Motorists have had to obtain a special online code to give to hire companies to check their penalty point records

British holidaymakers wanting to hire a car abroad will now have three weeks to share their driving licence details with firms instead of three days, in a move hailed as a "victory for common sense".

After the paper portion of the driving licence was scrapped last month, motorists have had to obtain a special online code to give to hire companies to check their penalty point records.

But the code only worked for 72 hours, meaning travellers hiring a car in the second week of a foreign trip were forced to find internet access abroad or run up roaming charges by going online using a mobile phone.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) said it was clear that "some users want the check code to last longer" amid claims it had been inundated with complaints.

The 72-hour limit had initially been set to "minimise the risk of unauthorised access to potentially personal data", a DVLA spokeswoman said.

Pete Williams, the RAC's head of external affairs, said: "This is a dramatic U-turn from the DVLA which feels very much like a victory for common sense.

"Presumably they were inundated with complaints from private motorists and businesses alike about three days being far too short a period to share your licence with a hire car company or an employer.

"The move to three weeks is sensible as it provides sufficient flexibility for people hiring a car in the second or third week of a holiday or business trip. "

DVLA drivers' services manager Dudley Ashford said it had introduced the extension after listening to customer feedback, as for some people "the 72 hours validity period is not long enough."

"We will review this in three months once we've had sufficient further feedback from users and industry," he said.

Motorists in Northern Ireland were warned not to bin the paper part of their driving licence, as their abolition in Great Britain does not apply in the region.

The AA said it had been "inundated" by calls from members concerned about the end of the driving licence paper counterpart.

Rosie Sanderson, manager of AA International Motoring, said: "This change of heart by DVLA will be welcomed by thousands of travellers who plan to hire a car while they are on holiday overseas because they will be able to obtain the necessary access code to allow hire companies to view their driving record before they travel.

"The 21-day limit will help most people taking a conventional holiday abroad because it removes the need to ensure they take their National Insurance number with them.

"However we strongly urge DVLA to allow those who are away for longer, such as gap-year students, to be able to use their passport number to access their driving record, rather than their National Insurance number, which most simply won't have and won't be able to obtain."

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