Be Warned When Hiring a Car Abroad

Be Warned When Hiring a Car Abroad

Are you aware of the UK driving licence changes coming into force on June 8th this year? No, that’s not surprising, it’s been estimated over 50% of current UK licence holders have no idea of the changes.

No More Paper:

Basically what it means is – if you have a photocard licence with the paper counterpart, the counterpart will no longer be issued with new licences. That’s no big deal. But, the counterpart you already hold will become invalid. That could become a big deal, in certain situations.

The police obviously will still be able to check your details with DVLA, and if you’re currently making your living driving PCV’s or commercial goods vehicles, the new regulations may well pass unnoticed.

Replacing the Old:

The DVLA intends to replace the paper counterfoil part of your licence, with a new ‘View Driving Licence’ service online. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet got a date when this new service may be up and running. In the UK at least, with a little ingenuity, like phoning DVLA, having a prospective employer, or car rental company check out your licence details, shouldn’t be too difficult. What though, if you want to hire a car while on holiday abroad?

Hiring a Car Abroad:

This is where the waters start to get a bit murkier. When the new online regulations come into force, if you plan to hire a car when abroad, you will have to obtain a code number from the DVLA to pass to the hire company. Not only that, but you need to obtain the code before you travel, and it’s only valid for three days. Not much good if you intend a week in the resort, then a week sightseeing in a hire car.

In that situation, according to the licensing authority, you will need to contact them while on holiday. You will be able to access the new ‘View Driving Licence,’ system online, obtain the code number, and print out a copy of your licence details. Assuming of course, the system is operating without any teething problems.

UK Rental Companies Playing Catch-up:

Even in the UK, many of the big multi-national rental companies are struggling to get everything in place both at home and abroad, due to the short notice given by DVLA. Some of the smaller UK private rental companies are still unaware of the changes. What chance for the smaller companies in France or Spain?

The whole change over process appears totally chaotic. Very little notice has been given to UK rental companies, and many have obtained notice of change from newspapers and blogs. With the system not yet online, and no apparent testing having been carried out, will the thing run smoothly, or even be online on June 8th?

Consider Changing Your Game Plan:

If you intend to travel abroad on business or holiday after the change over date, and usually hire a car, it may be worth changing the way you do things.

If it’s your intention to hire a car for a few days, or week, as part of your holiday, book it from the UK now, before June 8th. Many tour operators work with the large rental companies and often, pre-booking online attracts a reasonable discount.

If the tour operator has no affiliation with a rental company, then contact one yourself. The big companies will have a car waiting at the airport, or delivered to your hotel later during your stay if required. The licence problem shouldn’t arise, and paperwork both at home and abroad will be completed as it has always been.

Carry Your Photocard Licence and Counterfoil:

If you are holidaying after the changeover date, and are unsure whether you will hire a car or not, take both portions of your license with you. Hopefully the larger companies will have their new system in place, or may even accept the details on your counterfoil in the interim.

From past experience, it’s highly unlikely the smaller local rental companies will know of the UK licence changeover when it first happens. When hiring the car present both portions of the licence as you would normally do. The chances are they will be accepted. If they’re not, the worse they can do is inform you the system has changed and refuse to rent, or ask for the code. In which case it’s time to hunt out an internet cafe, and hope the new system is working.

Likewise the local police, they probably look at driving licences from a dozen or more different countries through the high season months. Unless you’ve committed some form of traffic violation, a cursory look at your photocard is usually enough to satisfy their curiosity. I’ve never yet had to produce my paper counterfoil, even after having been booked for parking in the wrong place.

The licence changes mentioned in this piece do not apply to Northern Ireland.

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