This month sees the end of the paper driving licence in the UK, as the government moves deeper into digitalised driver records. The move is the most significant change to the driving licence system since the DVLA introduced the photo-card licence in 1998 as part of an EU directive to have all member-state driving licences contain the holder’s image and signature.
As of Monday 8 June, the paper counterpart that accompanies the photo card driving licence will become defunct, with details, such as vehicle categories, endorsements and penalty points recorded instead on the DVLA’s digital record system. The photo card licence remains valid, and drivers can access their records online, by phone or via the post.
A staggering 55% of Britain’s 46 million motorists had no idea the changes were imminent, according to an RAC survey. While the paper counterpart can be destroyed after 8 June, the AA recommends that motorists still keep hold of it, in case they are asked for it while driving abroad. Not all foreign rental companies or even traffic police officers will be aware of the move, so being able to show the old paper copy may save a lot of time and red tape.
The move follows the scrapping of paper tax discs earlier this year in favour of online records. It’s expected to save the government £8 million and simplify the licensing process for drivers. Photo cards must still be renewed when necessary, and paper licences issued before 1998 still remain valid, so should be changed for a photo card once they expire. Anyone needing to change their details on a paper pre-1998 licence, such as their name or address, can do so for free, and will receive a new photo card with their updated details included.
Despite the change saving the government significant administrative costs in the long run, some organisations, including the AA have expressed concerns around potential confusion and increased risks of online fraud and illegal accessing of people’s DVLA data. They also advise that everyone checks their details are correct on the online database before destroying their paper counterpart.
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