The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

Car hire firms to ignore driving convictions after counterpart licence abolition

New digital checks will cause "chaos"


Goodbye counterpart, hello licence for confusion

TWO OF Britain’s largest car hire firms have said they will ignore a new government system for checking driving licence details because the measures threaten to cause chaos at rental desks.


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Avis and Budget, which together account for more than 10% of car hire business, will no longer review how many penalty points a driver has or whether he or she has a serious motoring conviction before handing over a vehicle because they claim the new system set up by the DVLA could result in disruption for customers.

The move comes ahead of the abolition of the paper counterpart driving licence, which takes effect on June 8.

Under the current system, anyone wanting to hire a car needs to show both parts of their driving licence — the plastic photocard and its paper counterpart. The latter contains details of endorsements for contraventions such as speeding or drink driving, as well as details about what type of vehicle the holder is qualified to drive.

Next week the paper counterpart will be replaced by a central database that holds drivers’ details and must be accessed via phone or online. Those wanting to hire a car in the UK or abroad can access the database and enter their driving licence and national insurance numbers, as well as their postcode, to view their entitlements and penalty points.

They can share this information by generating a code on the website and passing it to the rental company. The code lasts for only 72 hours and there are expected to be many customers who forget to create it, or who do not realise they need to do so.

To avoid long queues and delays as well as disappointed customers, Avis and Budget have said they simply won’t carry out the checks. “This change is taking place over our busy summer period,” said Avis. “So, to make sure our customers do not face any disruption, anyone collecting their vehicle from one of our UK stores will only need to bring their photocard licence.”


Also read: Counterpart driving licence changes: what you need to know


The rest of the industry has taken different approaches. Europcar says customers will need to generate a code, while Hertz is asking customers to print out their driving licence details from the government’s site.

The confusion is the latest in a series of problems to hit the plan to scrap the paper counterpart licence. It was originally scheduled for January but was delayed until the checking service was created, pushing the date to the start of the summer holiday period.

Government officials estimate that the measure will save drivers £8m a year in the cost of replacing lost documents. It is part of the DVLA’s “bonfire of the paperwork”, which has also included scrapping tax discs and no longer requiring car owners to produce insurance certificates.