5-minute guide to the driving licence changes

From today, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence is being replaced by an online service. The paper counterpart is no longer valid and no new ones will be issued. However, drivers with the old-style paper licence (pre-1998) before the photo card was introduced, will need to keep theirs. The changes do not apply to drivers in Northern Ireland.

Move to save motorists money

The government says the move will save motorists millions of pounds - last year DVLA had to replace around 445,000 counterparts because drivers had lost them, for which they were charged £20 each to cover the cost. The move will also change the way we share our driving information with employers and car hire companies.

Viewing your driving record

Your driving record will now be held on the DVLA’s website gov.uk/view-driving-licence. The service should be used by both paper and photo card driving licence holders and will allow you to download a summary of your licence record which can be printed or shared.

To gain access to your record, you will need to enter your driving licence number, National Insurance number and the postcode on your driving licence

Alternatively, you can call DVLA on 0300 083 0013 and give permission for your record to be checked by a nominated person or company.

Or you can send a request form or a letter with your full name and address, your driver licence number (or your date of birth if you don't know your driver number), enclosing a cheque or postal order for £5 payable to 'DVLA Swansea' to Driver Licence Validation Service, DVRE 5, DVLA, Swansea SA99 1AJ.

Hiring a car

When hiring a car abroad or at home, you will now require a special ‘licence check code’ that needs to be downloaded to enable rental companies to check your driving record.

You will need to enter your licence number, National Insurance number and postcode and generate your code from gov.uk up to 72 hours before collecting the vehicle and for extra assurance, DVLA recommends downloading and printing out an electronic summary of your driving licence record. The code can only be used once.

So if you’re hiring a car abroad, but won’t be picking up your car until later in your trip you’ll have to generate your code while you’re away.

We'd recommend holding onto your paper counterpart while the service beds in

Hannah Maundrell from money.co.uk comments: “We appreciate the DVLA’s changes set out to make life simpler for drivers but teething problems are inevitable. This isn’t just about consumer awareness; it’s about how effectively car hire companies communicate the changes to their employees - including overseas outlets. With language barriers to overcome, we don't want to see holidays ruined and people stranded because they can’t pick up the hire vehicles they’ve booked.

“The important point here is to take; a print out of your driving record, a 72-hour access code, your photocard driving licence, a note of your NI number and paper counterpart just to be on the safe side. For drivers that need to access the internet whilst at the car-hire office, finding free WiFi is key to avoid getting stung with expensive mobile roaming charges.”

"Drivers with photocard driving licences are being advised to destroy the paper counterpart after June 8, but we would recommend holding onto it for a little while as the service ‘beds in’," adds Hannah.

  • A photocard costs £14 (free for over 70s) and has to be renewed every 10 years (three years for over 70s). For more information on the changes, click here
  • Find cheaper car insurance at Mustard.co.uk or speak to a Mustard adviser on 0330 022 7421