Holders of UK driving licenses are being brought up to date as the paper counterpart of the license is being retired, becoming obsolete from the 8th of June.

20150603 - Clock Ticking on UK License Paper Counterpart

This will affect the ability to share information on information such as penalty points, which may be required in order to hire a car or in some cases for employment, but will mean that your data is now more protected than ever and that you are in more control of who gets to see that information.

The photocard license was introduced in the UK in 1998, aimed at providing a more uniformed approach to identification on the roads, although they were issued with a paper counterpart which accompanied the photocard.

It is the paper counterpart which is being retired. That means that anybody who might want to have access to the information on the counterpart will no longer be able to access the information without your approval.

Employers on the other hand may need to see if you have points on your license as it may affect their insurance policy in the event of you driving a fleet vehicle, for example. The same may apply in the event of hiring a car.

However, you can obtain a short-term equivalent of the counterpart, a “license check code” which is valid for a period of 72 hours and can be used to provide the information to those you choose.

You can obtain the information by visiting the website, www.viewdrivingrecord.service.gov.uk, providing your driving licence number, post code and national insurance number.

The UK Government explains, this service replaces the paper counterpart of your licence from 8 June 2015. You should use your paper counterpart until then.

You can use this service to:

  • view your driving record, eg vehicles you can drive, penalty points and disqualifications
  • create a licence check code to share your driving record with someone else, eg your employer or a car hire company

The check code will allow someone to see what vehicles you can drive, any penalty points or disqualifications, your name and the last 8 characters of your driving licence number.

You can’t use this service:

  • if your licence was issued in Northern Ireland
  • to check the progress of a licence application
  • to check historical information, eg expired penalty points or old driving licence entitlements

If you are a resident in Spain and have already converted your license to a Spanish one, you are already able to benefit from computerisation. If, for example, a traffic officer stops you, simply inputting your NIE from your license into their PDA will reveal all of the relevant information the officer needs. A police officer does not need to know how many points you have on your license for example, during a check of your documentation, all the officer needs to know is if you are legally able to drive or not.

If you are a resident in Spain and have not yet converted to a Spanish license, you have a limited time to do so. Your license is not only linked to your NIE here in Spain but also your address. Your license must be linked to your permanent residence. Recent legislation which means traffic offences are enforceable across Europe also mean that there is no escape from action if you are caught breaking the law in any member state country.

The UK is one of a few countries that were given an extension before their computerised systems were compatible with the rest of Europe, this latest change is working towards that goal, although having been in use since 1998, many might argue that it should and could have been done sooner.

That said however, within the UK, paper driving licences issued before the photocard was introduced in 1998 will remain valid, although you will run into difficulties abroad.

In case there is any doubt as to the reasons behind the change, the UK government themselves still offer advice about the reasons behind the process.

Photocard licences were introduced as a result of an EU directive requiring all member states to issue driving licences in a card format which contains the licence holder’s image and signature. There are many benefits that photocard driving licences offer, including:

  • allowing member state licence holders freedom to move around many European countries
  • a more secure format which reduces the opportunity for misrepresentation
  • ensuring that the person obtaining a provisional licence, taking the test and obtaining a full driving licence is one and the same
  • a cut in impersonation at driving tests
  • ensuring that the person obtaining the licence is old enough to do so
  • minimising the chances of a person holding more than one licence, either by accident or design

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