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DVLA Phases Out Paper Licences


Bryan Banbury, Managing Director at Russell Scanlan, takes a look at what impact new legislation, that will see the phasing out of paper driving licences, could have on those businesses with employees on the road.

From June this year, the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) will no longer issue the paper counterpart of the driving licence, leaving only the photocard for general use, which means for employers no quick view paper copy that details (dis)qualifications and penalties.

For those drivers that hold both parts, the DVLA is recommending that the paper licence be destroyed. But those drivers who hold a paper only driving licence (issued before the photocard was introduced in 1998) need to know that their paper licences alone remain valid and should not be disposed of.

This latest move follows the recent abolition of the paper tax disc and is all part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge initiative that looks to reduce the bureaucratic burden (and associated cost) and move to a more digitised process.
For employers, it is essential that this new system is absorbed quickly. Failing to verify that any employee who has to drive for work has a valid licence and proper qualifications for the role, can result in hefty fines and expose the business to liability. If a company driver does not fully disclose any relevant information to their employer (the policyholder) then that could create problems with the insurer further down the road. It is a difficult area and the advice has to be, if in doubt pick up the phone to me, or any team member at Russell Scanlan and have a chat. We can certainly help to explain individuals’ and corporate responsibilities.

The announcement has certainly provoked a very mixed reaction from clients and colleagues.  Some feel that a move to a more ‘real time’ solution is long overdue and welcome the changes. Others believe that the government has just shifted the bureaucratic headache to them, at least in the short term and particularly for those with fleets of cars and commercial vehicles to manage. More worryingly, most have had little or no awareness of the changes taking place. The digital age has reached greater parts of the DVLA it would appear but has failed to join up services with the communications departments. So look out for some problems continuing after June as the transition period could be rather rocky.

New services being introduced by the DVLA for both Employer and Employee will help the process.  The ‘Share Driving Licence’ service will provide an online alternative for those who currently have a business need to check the information displayed on the driving licence counterpart. Share Driving Licence will be a free, 24/7 service and is also scheduled to be available by the changeover date. Driving licence information via Share Driving Licence will only be made available with the consent of the driving licence holder.
The second service is ‘Access to Driver Data’ which will provide real-time driving licence data via a business-to-business interface (or API).  Access to this service will be subject to users agreeing contractual terms and connection and enquiry costs are currently under consideration. We know that this service is also scheduled to be available shortly.

There is a currently an online service for individuals to view their licence at www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence. The service is free and easy to use and drivers can check what type of vehicles they can drive, what endorsements (penalty points) they may have and when a licence expires.

The DVLA website has more information and we can also help with further advice if you want to discuss any detail relating to the changes. We would be happy to take your call.

Holiday Travel

And on a final note… if you are planning on hiring a car abroad for holidays or travel this year – bear in mind that some car hire firms may not be quite up to speed with the new licence changes and will still look for the paper licence as proof of qualifications and endorsements. For the sake of many arguments that could challenge any language barrier and hours waiting in a hot portacabin alongside a busy airport, I would hang on to that paper licence just a little bit longer….


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