Car hire should be less stressful after tweaks to UK licence-share system
Hiring a car looks set to become an easier process after the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) adapted their systems to allow more flexibility in activating passcodes that car rental companies use to access your driving records; the updates sees an increase in the validity period of the passcode from 3 days to 21 days.
Controversial new DVLA system
The DVLA abolished the paper counterpart of driving licences earlier this year and introduced an online system as a replacement. This was implemented to save motorists millions of pounds in replacement costs for lost counterparts and ensure that car rental agencies and insurance companies were receiving completely up-to-date information. However, this move came under fire as many predicted that the new regime would lead to problems when individuals tried to hire cars. This concern was amplified as the launch saw many technical problems, including websites crashing, but the DVLA soon set to rectifying the problem.
The initial system required motorists to log on to the DVLA website to obtain a passcode to give to car-hire companies. This code worked on a one time basis, and once accessed would only remain active for 72 hours.
How the upgrade will benefit travellers
The upgraded system, which sees the code being activated for 21 days rather than 72 hours, will benefit travellers or holiday-makers who will be abroad for an extended period of time and will only require a hire vehicle later in, or at the tail-end, of their trip. Under the previous system, the motorist would have risked massive internet roaming charges or racked up a large bill calling the premium number on their mobile in order to activate the code needed for the rental company to access their DVLA record. This new time-frame means that the code can be activated in England before the trip commences. Not only does this simplify the process, it also saves your phone bill. Pete Williams, head of RAC’s external affairs names the new ruling a ‘victory for common sense’ and deemed it sensible to allow ‘sufficient flexibility for people hiring a car in the second or third week of a holiday or business trip.’
It’s not all plain sailing
However, Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk is concerned that the DVLA have not addressed another potential issue with the system: the requirement of a national insurance number. Motorists activating their access code are required to enter their national insurance number, which Maundrell states is: ‘a piece of information that many people do not have to hand, particularly when they travel.’
The AA has also warned that some overseas car hire companies may refuse rentals without seeing a paper counterpart if they are not aware of the new system. President of the AA, Edmund King, advises motorists travelling in the near future to disregard the DVLA’s advice to tear up the paper and take it with them whilst travelling as a ‘belt and braces’ measure.
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