Counterpart Driving Licence
The paper counterpart of the driving licence has now been axed and is no longer valid in the UK, with drivers all over the country now left with useless green scraps of paper.
The counterpart has been replaced by an online system which is designed to be far more efficient and modern.
But although there’s been some publicity about the switchover, not everyone is aware of exactly what’s happened and why. Here’s some more information.
What’s the new system?
The paper counterpart licence has been made defunct which means that from now on, any new licences issued will only have the photocard.
You can still use your old counterpart to notify the DVLA about a change of address but you won’t get a replacement paper document sent back out. The only licences which will be issued by the DVLA from now on will be the plastic photocards.
All of the information which was previously contained on a paper licence will now be held online, and any interested parties such as car hire firms will need to check your details over the internet rather than inspecting a licence.
The government has introduced this change for several reasons, but not least of all because it believes is a cost-cutting exercise.
Scrapping the counterpart should save the government an estimated £8 million, and that’s without taking into account all of the frauds which could take place using a counterfeit or stolen paper driving licence.
Under the new electronic system, anyone can check their own details online thanks to a joint initiative between Motor Insurers Bureau and DVLA dubbed MyLicence.
If you want to share your online information with another party, you’ll be given a code for them to access it. These codes will last just 72 hours before expiry so if they’ve not checked your record within that time; you’ll have to apply again.
This instant access means that insurers, car hire firms and any other relevant parties can check the licence easily and there’s no scrabbling around to try and find the paper counterpart.
All endorsements and penalty points will be recorded electronically so there’s no need to get your counterpart updated. This streamlined process means that you won’t have to go through the arduous procedure of getting your counterpart updated following an offence.
The government introduced the changes to try and eliminate red tape in the process; the police have been able to check records electronically for a long time so it’s just extending that access to everyone.
Although there are undoubted benefits there are some concerns that moving all the information online will make everything more long-winded for certain types of transactions.
Certain procedures such as organising tests drives could become far more protracted as rather than just being able to quickly flash your licence, dealers will have to carry out online checks.
The other problem is that if you want to hire a car abroad, it could be more problematic. To get the code for the car hire firm, the driver has to log onto the DVLA website. This is simple enough in the UK, but the codes are only valid for three days. Therefore, if you suddenly decide halfway through your break that you want to hire a car, you’ll have to try and get internet access while you’re overseas.
The one exception
It’s worth emphasising that it’s only the paper counterparts which have been scrapped; some paper licences will still remain valid.
If you’ve never been issued with a photocard licence and only have the old-style paper licence (issued before 1998) you’ll need to hang on to it still.
Getting rid of the paper counterpart is a significant change to the UK licensing system. However, there are a lot of benefits and overall, the process should be easier for drivers in the majority of cases, if not perhaps for car hire firms or dealers.