How to Drive Legally Outside the UK

How to Drive Legally Outside the UK

June 8 saw the end of the counterpart driving licence – that’s the paper part you can never find when you need it – and it seems to be causing some confusion among motorists, particularly those who are looking to hire a car at home or abroad this summer.

So here’s all you need to know about the changes and exactly what you need to do when hiring a car…

Why end the counterpart licence?

The end of the counterpart licence is the latest in a series of initiatives by DVLA to digitise motorists’ records and streamline its services. It comes shortly after another controversial move which saw the abolition of the tax disc.

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How will it affect me?

If you have a photocard licence you can now destroy the paper counterpart and if you need to check your driving record for any endorsements or penalty points you can use DVLA’s online Check Your Driving Licence service.

If you’ve never held a photocard licence and only have a paper licence, you must keep hold of your paper licence. If you ever lose it or need to change the details on it, you’ll then have to apply for a photocard licence.

What if I want to hire a car?

If you are going to be hiring a car, whether at home or abroad, there is a new process you have to go through in order to allow car hire firms to check your driver details.

So, in addition to presenting the car hire company with your photocard licence, you’ll have to do the following:

  • Log on to DVLA’s online service up to 21 days before you travel and log in using your postcode, driving licence number and National Insurance number.
  • Once logged in, click on the ‘view your driving licence’ service and print off the most up-to-date PDF version of your licence. This will show any restrictions and endorsements against your name.
  • Then click on the ‘share your licence information’ tab, click on the ‘create a code’ tab and print off the ‘check code’, which will appear as below…


This code only lasts for 21 days, can only be used once and you can request a maximum of five codes in any 21 day period.

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In order to check your driver details, the car hire company will need this unique licence check code and the last eight characters of your driving licence number.

If you lose or forget your code you could generate another one while at the car hire centre by using your smartphone or the car hire firm’s computer – all you need is an internet connection, your driver number, postcode and National Insurance number.

If you are going to be hiring a car more than 21 days into your holiday, you can either generate a code while you’re away or the car hire company can get your driver details using the car hire line (09061 393837). In order for them to use this service, you’ll have to call DVLA Customer Enquiries Group (0300 790 6801) before you leave to give them permission to discuss your record.

If you still have it to hand, it might also be worth taking your paper counterpart licence along with you anyway.


This is also one less piece of paperwork you’ll need when it comes to selling your car. Find out how much your car could be worth with our quick and easy to use car valuation calculator.





Married with 2 large (and loopy) labradoodle dogs and a small cocker spaniel, I spend most of my time walking them to tire them out! Have a passion for Cars and F1, which fits excellently with my job here at We Buy Any Car

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