It is a scary time to be an older driver in the UK. The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency are doing all they can to reduce costs and put all their services online. Their latest changes saw the authority do-away with paper tax discs, which confused a lot of our customers who were unaware it was happening, and now they've announced plans to scrap paper tax driving licences completely.
Newer drivers might not know of paper driving licences but believe it of not the photocard many of us now hold did not get introduced until 1998. Before then your licence was a piece of paper with all your details on - including previous motoring offences, such as speeding fines - and no photo identification. Since 1998 you still get a paper licence in the form of a Counterpart, but there are many, many people in the country that still only hold the old style paper licence.
As of January 2015 the DVLA will no longer be sending out paper driving licences. Anyone renewing a paper licence will receive a photocard in return. Sound scary? Don't worry, we're here to help. Below is everything you need to know ...
1. Your paper driving licence is still valid!
Paper licences remain valid even though the DVLA are no longer issuing them, so you can proceed as normal until you need to renew it. Paper licences do not usually need to be renewed until your 70th birthday, so mathematically there are people who have another 34 years to get used to the idea of the photocard!
2. It does not cost anything to get a photo licence.
The DVLA are allowing those with paper driving licences to receive their first photocard completely free of charge, so if you want to update to a modern licence you will not be paying out anything.
3. Photo licences are actually very useful.
I would urge anyone who has a paper licence to consider transitioning to a photocard licence simply for the convenience of it. Photocards are smaller and easier to keep on your person than the paper licence, which will crumple and tear over time. Photocards are more discretionary as they do not detail previous speeding fines and other motoring offences. I would definitely consider it.
4. None of your details will change.
When updating your driving licence to a photocard all your details will change over seamlessly. The only difference will be what you get back from the DVLA. Unfortunately this does mean penalty points will not reset and will change over also, if you were thinking it might be a good way to get around that!
5. This change will save you money.
The DVLA are doing this for a reason: it saves the Government money and it saves the general public money. It is estimated that scrapping the paper driving licence will save drivers around £18 million every year. Plus the motor industry will save about £2 million a year.
6. The Counterpart will be going digital.
While I admit this will not be good news for everyone, the DVLA are currently developing a digital service that will allow you to view all the information current displayed on the paper licences online. Employers, leasing companies and insurance companies will also be able to access this information, meaning you do not have to supply the information yourself.
7. There is a hefty fine for driving with an invalid licence.
I know we're an honest lot but just in case you are not aware: if you are caught with an invalid licence, e.g. an expired paper licence, you can face a big fine of up to £1,000. In other words, eventually you will need to give up your paper licence.