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Introduction of the paperless driving licence

Samantha Downes author photo
Written by Samantha Downes, Content Writer

Edited by Chris Wheal, Finance Writer, 17 May 2022

Find out why you no longer need a paper counterpart to accompany the main UK driving licence
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Paperless driving licence: What you need to know

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What was the driving licence counterpart?

All UK driving licences issued between 1998 and 2015 comprise of a photocard and a paper counterpart. The paper section records all endorsements, penalty points and entitlements and can be used as proof of your driving record. 

On 8th June 2015, the DVLA scrapped the paper driving licence counterpart

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Why was the driving licence counterpart scrapped?

The driving licence changes were part of a shake-up of the DVLA’s processes, which included scrapping the tax disc and cutting the cost of applying for a licence. 

  • the move was aimed at saving UK motorists £18m per year

  • driving history details are now stored electronically and your details can be accessed securely online using the new View Driving Licence service

The changes were originally planned for January 2015, but the scheme was pushed back 6 months in order for the online driving licence check system to be completed.

What happens to my paper driving licence?

If you have a two-part – card and paper – driving licence, you can destroy the paper counterpart of your driving licence. After 8 June 2015, the paper section ceased to be a legally recognised document.

Do I need to destroy my paper-only licence?  

If you have a pre-1998 paper-only driving licence, you must not destroy this. 

  • you don’t need to take any immediate action and can keep your old-style licence until you need to change your name or address, or if you need to renew after age 70. 

  • you can choose to upgrade to a photocard licence at any time, and can apply via the DVLA website or at the Post Office

For most drivers, the new system requires little or no action. However, there are some changes you need to be aware of if you plan to hire a car or if your employer carries out driving history checks.

Sharing your licence details

You can view your own driving licence details at any time by visiting the DVLA website — you’ll need to enter your driving licence number, National Insurance number, and postcode to access the service.

But in some cases, you may need to share your driving licence details with others, such as:

  • when hiring a car 

  • when taking driving lessons

  • when complying with employers’ checks

In the past, you would have presented your paper counterpart as it showed all your driving entitlements and endorsements.

The new system allows you to download your driving licence history or provide temporary access to those you have granted permission to.

How do I share my driving licence details?

You can share your driving licence details in a number of secure ways:

Sharing your driving licence details online

  • go to the DVLA website and log in using your driving licence number, National Insurance number, and postcode

  • generate a unique code using the Share Driving Licence tool

  • provide the unique code and the last eight digits of your driving licence number to the hire company or employer that has requested your driving history

  • the code can only be used one and must be used within 21 days

Sharing your driving licence details by telephone

  • call DVLA on 0300 083 0013 and provide your driving licence number, National Insurance number, and postcode to generate a unique access code

  • share the code with the hire company/employer

  • as with the online method the code can only be used once and is only valid for 21 days

Alternatively, call DVLA on 0300 790 6801 and leave permission for a nominated person/business to check your driving licence history over the phone

Sharing your driving licence details by post

Send a request form to: Driver Licence Validation Service DVRE 5 DVLA Swansea SA99 1AJ

  • you must include a cheque or postal order for £5 (payable to DVLA, Swansea)

  • you will then be provided with a hard copy of your driving licence information that you can share with your employer or car hire company

Downloading your driving licence details

Alternatively, you can access the site and download your driving licence history as a PDF once you have generated a code – but be aware that some companies may not accept this as it is not live information.

What happens if I get penalty points?

When you get penalty points, you’ll still have to pay any fines and give your licence to the court. 

  • they’ll give the licence back to you, but it won’t have penalty points printed or written on it

  • you’ll only be able to see penalty points using the view your driving licence information service. You can also check by phone or post.

Hiring a car abroad

If you’re planning on hiring a car on holiday, it’s recommended you generate an access code online or by phone before you go away. 

  • the code is only valid for 21 days so you may have issues if you're off travelling for a few weeks

  • if the hire company does insist on making licence checks, you’ll have to find access to the web to generate a code, or alternatively call the DVLA from your destination.

You may wish to print a PDF version of your driving licence history and take it on holiday with you but be aware that not all hire companies will accept this as proof of your up-to-date driving history.

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