Say Goodbye to the Paper Driving Licence
In 2014, the government announced that it was going to get rid of the paper element of the current UK driving licence. This is part of the government's wider drive to digitise its services, and the role of the paper part of the licence is to be filled by a new electronic system.
The government thinks that this strategy will help to make public services more efficient, saving us all time and saving them money. Last October, a review was launched by the Department for Transport (DfT) which looked at different ways that the DVLA could improve its service delivery and save taxpayers' money.
The Roads Minister, Stephen Hammond, came to the conclusion in the report that one of the best ways to achieve this would be to scrap the paper counterpart of the driving licence. This is all well and good, but how will the changes impact the 46 million people in the UK who hold a current driving licence, especially those who only have a paper licence?
According to DVLA advice, from 8 June drivers who hold the photo-card type of licence with the paper counterpart should destroy the paper document, keeping only the photo card. They should still renew it when needed, as otherwise they could still be liable for the £1,000 fine faced by those who are caught without a valid licence. A little confusingly, those drivers who still hold the old paper style of licence, which was issued up until 1998, should keep their licence and take no action, as these licences will still be valid and there is no need to destroy them.
The DVLA has said that they will not impose any charge for those who want to change their old style of paper licence to a new photo card one because of a change of details. However, once you have a photo-card type of licence you will be charged the standard £20 each time it has to be renewed, which is currently every 10 years.
Older drivers face more frequent changes. Motorists over 70 years of age now need to renew their licence every three years and keep it updated with current medical conditions. This, however, is handled by the DVLA free of charge. A DVLA spokesman confirmed that any driver updating their paper licence with new medical conditions or a change of name or address could do so for free and would then be issued with the new photo-card style of driving licence.
These changes in procedure mean that no licences, even the old pre-1998 paper ones, will now be updated with new driving convictions and associated penalty points. These details will now instead by uploaded to a new digital platform called 'View Driving Licence'. Here they can share their licence details with any appropriate third parties and also view their own details. The service is hosted at www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence.
When drivers go there, they can see any penalty points and convictions they may have and also confirmation of the types of vehicle that they are allowed to drive. According to the DVLA, a second site will be introduced for any authorised body that needs to see the driving details of an employee or, perhaps in the case of insurance companies, a customer. The DVLA spokesman confirmed that they were keen to make it as simple and quick as possible for the motoring public to access services and their details. Getting rid of the outdated and cumbersome pieces of paper allows motorists to get the information they need far more quickly, and it also saves money for the taxpayer. It will also allow the relevant bodies to check the details of drivers more easily, getting rid of administration costs and speeding up their own services. According to the DVLA, the new system will save the country more than £5 million every year.