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Replacement licence costs revealed

Motorists are spending more than £20 million a year to replace lost, stolen or damaged driving licences, new figures reveal.

Data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) showed that 1,184,353 duplicate licences were issued in the financial year 2013/14.

Drivers have to pay £20 for each copy.

The figures mean the equivalent of more than 3,000 replacements for lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed licences are being processed every day.

In statistics revealed separately in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the DVLA disclosed that in the last three years more than seven million replacement licences have been sent out in instances such as when drivers change their name, address or title.

There is no charge for this service, unless the motorist is applying to change the picture on their photo card, in which case there is a £20 fee.

In the most recent financial year a total of 10.5 million licences were issued, including duplicates, provisional and renewed licences.

Over three years from 2011, more than a million duplicate tax discs were ordered after they were lost, stolen, damaged, destroyed or illegible after fading, the figures showed.

Replacements cost £7 although the fee is waived in some circumstances such as when the original disc cannot be read or the colour has faded.

After 93 years in operation, paper discs are being scrapped from Wednesday (October 1).

From that date motorists will no longer need to display a tax disc on their vehicle windscreen. They will still need to pay their vehicle excise duty car tax, with records being monitored electronically.

Alan Mason, director of IT services company Ricoh UK, which submitted the FoI request, said digitisation can deliver "superior public services".

"The phasing out of the paper-based tax disc is another significant milestone in the public sector's journey towards digital by default," he said.

"This initiative has the potential to save time and money, with electronic replacement discs reducing paperwork for motorists and enabling DVLA staff to concentrate on delivering better customer services.

"However, it is very important that this hugely beneficial digitisation model is rolled out to other government agencies and departments to enable joined up, connected services."8

The first tax discs was issued in 1921. Officials say they now use electronic systems to check if a car is taxed so physical checks of paper discs are no longer required.

AA president Edmund King said: "It is astonishing that more than one million duplicate tax discs have been issued in the last three years, which equates to more than 3% of all vehicles.

"This obviously shows that ditching the disc will save money and bureaucracy. However it also illustrates that the DVLA database must be kept up to date.

"'Digital by default' should not leave behind those not on-line and, for those who are checking driving entitlement or car tax validity on-line, it should be as easy as doing the shopping."

He added: "It is also interesting that more than 20% of drivers have needed a replacement licence in the last three years because of moving or getting married.

"However the fact that over a million people have needed a duplicate licence shows that some drivers need to be more careful with where they keep their licence to prevent them being lost or stolen."

A spokeswoman for the DVLA said: "Our fees are pooled to recover our overall costs. Not all transactions involve a fee and over three quarters are free. These include some of the most common transactions, such as change of address or change of details.

"We regularly review our fees and recently published a consultation with the aim of cutting licence fees which will save drivers up to £18m every year. We're reviewing responses and will make an announcement in due course.

"We are getting rid of the tax disc from October 1 2014 so motorists will no longer have to replace lost or stolen discs."

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