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Title: Will new licence law changes ruin my trip?

Date: 05 August 2015

Q.

I understand that driving licences are changing and that they’re scrapping the paper counterpart section. I’ve seen reports that it could cause problems abroad and as I’ve got a riding trip around Spain planned in August I was wondering if there is anything to worry about

A.

The changes shouldn’t cause you any problem but there are a few things you can do just to be safe.

The DVLA is scrapping the paper driving licences which are no longer required since the 8th June. The paper counterpart to your licence was traditionally used to record the type of licence you held and the driving offences of which you have been convicted. These days the class of bike (and any other vehicle you can drive) is recorded on the back of the photo card licence and the reality is that the police have been able to access your convictions online from the roadside for some time.

Going forward you will be able to access your own driving record on line and will be able to get a code when you do which will allow any insurer to access your driving record should you allow it. A change of address, the other thing you could do with your counterpart, can now be done online which will trigger a new photo card licence being sent to you.

You don’t say whether you are flying down to Spain and hiring a bike or riding down. If hiring, the one area where you may need to be a bit careful is that it is anticipated that there may be some teething problems with foreign hire firms who have traditionally asked to see the paper licence as well as the photo card, and they may not be aware of the changes. The DVLA say that the changes have been well advertised abroad, particularly in holiday destinations, though it remains to be seen as to how well foreign hire companies keep an eye on DVLA press releases. Given that you don’t want to be refused a bike when you get there, the easiest thing to do is to call ahead to check exactly what information they want on the day of collection and then, just to be certain take a copy of your paper counterpart licence with you. The DVLA suggest destroying the paper counterpart but until everyone is used to the changes it wouldn’t hurt to keep it somewhere safe.

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