DVLA car hire codes now valid for 21 days

Last month's abolition of the paper part of the UK driving licence meant that British holidaymakers were required to prove their eligibility to drive by presenting car-hire firms with an online code that was valid for only 72 hours. Following sustained negative feedback, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has announced the process British travellers must undergo when hiring cars is to be modified.

As a response, the DVLA has now extended the code's validity period from 72 hours to 21 days, which should also alleviate pressure of the DVLA website during peak holiday periods. It crashed when the new system launched on June 8 and there were concerns that it would again collapse when school summer holidays began and during other peak holiday periods.

Though the change has been welcomed, some confusion over the new system remains. While the paper counterpart to driving licences now has no legal status in Britain or abroad, there was concern during the crossover period that some foreign car-hire firms might not be fully briefed on the changes and would still request to see the document. Speaking last month, president of the AA Edmund King said: "It is possible that hirers overseas, who have been used to checking a British driver's paper record in the past, may not know of the change and still ask to see the counterpart.

"Although the paper counterpart has now been rendered invalid, we are advising our members not to tear up their counterparts just yet, but to take them abroad as a 'belt and braces' measure if they intend to hire a vehicle."

This countered official DVLA advice on the issue, with its website stating that paper counterparts to driving licences should be destroyed from June 8. Most recently updated today, the section of the DVLA website that addresses driving licence changes recommends that holidaymakers contact their intended car-hire company to establish what information the company requires before they make a vehicle available for hire. Drivers are also reminded that they will need to provide their National Insurance number when entering the verification information needed to obtain their online code.

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