Avoid driving licence confusion when hiring a car

January 22, 2018

New rules came into force on June 8, 2015 as the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) abolished the paper counterparts to our driving licences.

This has led to a few small changes to the way we rent cars: here’s what you need to know.

What changed?

The DVLA effectively scrapped paper licences. It no longer issues or updates the paper licence counterpart which used to contain information on everything from motoring offences to what types of vehicle you can drive. All details are now be held online only in the database of all UK licence holders.

Paper licences issued before 1998 are also still valid, although they will not be updated with the recent information about your driving record. If yours was issued after 1998, you can, of course, hold on to the paper part, although the government advises that you destroy it.

How does this affect car rental?

In theory, this should not cause any problems when hiring a car. There is an online licence checking system on which you can view your driving details and endorsements. To do this you need your driving licence number (found on your current photocard licence or paper licence), your national insurance number and your home postcode. You can print out the information on your driving record.

Unfortunately, there has been some confusion among the car rental companies as to how they will advise and treat customers. It’s therefore important to check out your individual rental terms and conditions ahead of travel.

Here’s what else you should look out for.

Getting your code

A unique code can now be generated in order to show your rental company your licence details. The code is created online and is valid for 21 days. You’ll need to go to the Government website and follow the instructions to get your individual code which you present at the rental desk where it is verified by the rental company.

You will need your driver number and postcode, as they appear on your driving licence, and your National Insurance number.

Some rental desks may not even ask for your code (just as many never asked to look at your paper licence) when you pick up a hire car; they may only ask for your passport together with your driving licence photocard (and in countries where it’s required, an international driving licence). We recommend that you print your online driving record and your code just to be one the safe side.

Booked a car in the UK?

You could be asked to comply with a number of different methods when picking up your car in the UK, so it’s vital you check with your rental company before travelling to the pick-up point.

Here are some of the most common:

1. Providing your code

The same as the above process, you may need to generate your unique code.

2. Print out your driving record

Hertz is requesting that you present a printed record of your driving details obtained from the Government website.

3. Business as usual

Take along your photocard and old driving licence and present these at pick up. Avis and Budget are doing this, however you will need to ensure that any new convictions are not against the terms and conditions of the two rental companies.

4. Licence plus extra ID

As with overseas, some companies are only interested in seeing the photo licence plus a second form of photo ID such as a passport.

A simple check list for hassle free car rental 

If you want to ensure that nothing goes wrong when you pick up your vehicle, follow these tips:


Please note: this article was last updated January 22, 2018. All information correct as of this date.


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