The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) will phase out the paper counterpart licence with effect from 8th June 2015, from which point they will only issue photocard driving licences. The changes apply to licence holders in England, Scotland and Wales only, as licences in Northern Ireland are managed by DVA Northern Ireland.
The UK Government has estimated that removing the administration and processing cost of paper licences will provide a cost-saving reduction of c£8 million per annum as well as delivering a much “greener” solution.
However, for business vehicle owners and fleet managers, it may mean a change in approach in terms of managing driver details and documentation, the way Motor Fleet Insurance companies handle and process policies and claims.
What does this mean for Fleet Managers and Business Owners?
Business owners or fleet managers have a duty to verify whether employees who drive for work need to use a tachograph, have a valid licence and possess the proper and adequate driving qualifications.
Failure to monitor drivers correctly could generate a £1,000 fine for the motorist and expose your business to liability for any injury, damage or death caused by your employees driving with an invalid licence during the course of their work.
What Are The Key Changes?
From 8th June, employers can no longer use or rely on the paper counterpart to check driving information such as provisional entitlements and endorsements, which is not listed on the photocard licence. However, employers can verify employees’ driver information with their permission via:
- Post for £5 per enquiry
- Phone for 51p per minute: 0906 139 3837
- Fax for £5 per enquiry
- Electronic Driver Entitlement Checking Service, which charges set-up costs, an enquiry fee and requires organisations to sign a contract with the DVLA
DVLA Digital Services
Along with phasing out the paper licences, DVLA has developed a digital enquiry service for businesses that need real-time access to their drivers’ information.
The service, Share Driving Licence (SDL), requires employees to log into the View Driving Licence service, the free service for anyone to verify their own driving information, located here www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence. From there, users click on the SDL tab, which generates a one-time passcode valid for 72 hours. Users should provide this code and the last eight digits of their driving licence number to any organisations that need to verify their driving history.
Users will also have the option to print a PDF of their driving history which they should print just in case.
Shared Driving Licence – Free of Charge – For Now!
DVLA has confirmed that SDL will initially be provided free of charge, but that could change in the future. The DVLA decided to initially not charge SDL users since drivers can currently present their paper licence for free, however there is clearly scope to impose a charge to businesses per search in the future.
Driver data is currently only provided by DVLA with the licence holder’s explicit consent. However, there is strong opinion that this could change in the future, as it would provide the DVLA with an additional revenue stream by charging businesses with a genuine need for the information, such as insurers.
Car Hire Abroad
Holidaymakers or business travellers have been advised to exercise caution and print their driving records, as many hire companies abroad normally require the paper licence and may be unaware of the change. Travel Industry experts predict a transition period following 8th June during which hire companies may refuse hirers who do not possess the paper licence. Click here for more detailed guidance: www.gov.uk/dvla.
What Is The Impact For Employees?
Employees with paper driving licences issued before the photocard was introduced in 1998 should keep their licence and may continue to rely on it until they reach their 70th Birthday. The next time they update or renew their licence, they will only be issued a photocard. As a precaution, licence holders should refrain from destroying their paper counterpart until SDL is fully available.
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