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Although the switch to digital should make the process of car-hiring smoother (it’s one less thing you’ll need to scramble about to find before you travel), the change may leave some unwitting drivers without the documents they need. And a set-to with car hire staff is the last thing you need when you’ve just touched down at your holiday destination.
How to hire a car
So, just to be on the safe side, take these following steps before hiring a car this summer – whether you’ll be abroad or in the UK:
- Before you travel (no longer than 21 days before though), log into DVLA’s online service. This is where every driver’s information is now stored (negating the need for a paper counterpart licence). You’ll need to input your postcode, driving licence number and National Insurance number to log in.
- Once logged in, click on the’ view your driving licence’ service.
- Print off a PDF off the most up-to-date PDF version of your licence. This will show any restrictions and endorsements against your name.
- Click on the ‘share your licence information’ tab. This will return a ‘check code’, which will appear as below – and print.
Your check code is:
- is case sensitive
- is only valid for 21 days
- can only be used once
View, print or save your license information
REMEMBER – this code lasts for 21 days - so don't request one if you've more than three weeks before you travel - and can only be used once.
You can then share your licence information with the car hire firm by providing them with the unique licence check code and the last eight characters of your driving licence number. If you forget the code, or forget to get one, you might be able to generate one using your smartphone or a computer once at the car hire centre – but you’ll just need an internet connection and your driver and National Insurance numbers to hand.
Alternatively, the car hire company could call the car hire line on 09061 393837 – but you'll first have to phone DVLA Customer Enquiries Group on 0300 790 6801 and give them permission to discuss your record.
You might not be required to show any of this – and only asked for your photocard licence (a quick straw poll of the MS offices showed most of us had never had to show our paper counterpart licences when hiring a car anywhere outside the UK) but the process is free – and worth doing. And if you still have your paper counterpart, it might be worth taking it along anyway – after all there’s nothing to lose, even if you end up losing it.
Update: Friday, July 10, 2015
Following customer feedback, DVLA has extended the validity period of the check code from 72 hours to 21 days. Car hire companies or employers will still need the last eight digits of your driver’s licence number to redeem the code. This code can be can be cancelled at any time, meaning you're still in control of when your record can be accessed and by whom.
If you’re planning on hiring a vehicle this summer you’ll have to visit the DVLA’s website to get a ‘check code’ as, from this Monday (June 8), the counterpart driving licence – the paper part that shows details of restrictions and penalties – will no longer be valid.