Driving License requirements for UK rentals.

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  NTarrant 23 Dec 2010
at 08:08

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  • Anonymous


    Does anyone know why car rental firms in the UK require UK driving license holders to produce both parts of the photographic license? No where else in the world has this requirement and I am not aware of any requirement for foreign license holders to produce a second part.
    When I have asked the answers are genrally vague but “jobsworth”…. thats the way it is…….
    It is really very inconvenient especially at weekends when the DVLA are not easily contactable.


    In the UK there is no requirement for a Driving License to be produced. Licenses are only prevalent in the USA.

    UK rental firms may, however, require the photo card and paper element of a UK Driving Licence. This is an odd requirement, as I rarely travel with my paper licence, and indeed I understood they were being phased out…?

    This requirement is often waived for members of car rental loyalty schemes such as Avis Preferred, as all this information is already in your profile.


    Not sure where you get the idea that licenses are not required to be produced in the UK, VK. It is quite simple, no license no hire, they require the paper bit to see if you have any endorsements as this is not shown on the photocard part of the license.

    I would agree that if you are part of Avis Preferred or Hertz One Club you do not usually have to produce a license, but in the latter case I have always been asked at least for the photocard bit.

    The paper license you are refering to VK is the old style paper license which a number of people still have if they have not moved home for more than about ten years. Although having the endorsement paper part does fly in the face of the idea of having a photocard license


    The reason for the mandated presentation is very simple and is enshrined in UK law as part of the Road Traffic Act 1988 Section 87 (2):

    “It is an offence for a person to cause or permit another person to drive on a road a motor vehicle of any class if that other person is not the holder of a licence authorising him to drive a motor vehicle of that class.”

    Put simply, it means that the owner of the vehicle is obliged to verify that the driver is licenced. Failure to do so is a criminal offence for which the rental company employee could be charged. In practice, it’s a slightly grey area and the likelihood is that it would be the company secretary who would have to shoulder the responsibility.

    Until the paper counterparts can be done away with, by making the photocards themselves the bearer of all licensing detail (electronically or visibly) then it is likely that this policy will remain blanket.

    Note that it should also apply when collecting a courtesy car from a car dealer etc., too.


    The point I was making is that there is no such thing as a *license* in the UK.

    As a consequence of this they are not required to hire a car.

    There may, however, be a requirement for a *licence* to be produced.

    You say potato, I say potato(e), depending on how friendly you are with Dan Quayle.


    VK…. Thanks for the English spelling lesson…

    Continental club. Agree with you but this does not change the fact that those not holding a UK license, but perhaps holding a US licence, are not similarly obliged. It is this disparity that I cannot understand.
    I have Avis preferred but I use Alamo mostly. In their quicksilver programme but in both cases have never been able to collect a car without both parts.


    Binman: not sure that I follow. It doesn’t matter where the driver is from or which authority has issued their licence – it is UK law that the driver must be licenced and the provider of the vehicle is potentially committing an offence if this proves not to be the case and permission has been granted to drive the car on the public highway.

    In practice, this means that the vehicle owner, lessor, renter, hirer or lender must insist that the driver present their full licence, however it is composed or of whatever it comprises and, in some cases, an International Driving Licence with an English translation as well.

    Failure to do so exposes the granter of the permission to drive to the risk of criminal prosecution – a risk which no sensible corporate would entertain.

    There is one caveat that, in the UK, some vehicle providers will allow the driver to call the DVLA and grant permission for the provider to then speak to the agency and to verify the content of the paper counterpart, if it is not contemporaneously available.

    Most other countries do not utilise the hybrid paper/card system that we have in the UK. Most other countries also demand that whatever licence is issued is carried by the driver at all times. Failure to do so is in itself an offence, unlike in the UK when an agreed timescale is imposed for a so-called ‘presenter’ of the full licence at a Police Station. This means, practically, that in most countries, if you are pulled and cited, your complete and single-item licence is taken away immediately by the officer and either returned endorsed, or destroyed.

    The absence of any licence, or the presence of the endorsements, is clearly visible in such circumstances to the (in this case rental) vehicle owner and they can verify their legal obligations with respect to allowing their overseas-licenced client to drive their vehicle in the UK.


    Continental club
    I understand that a licence/license must be produced.
    If I am in the USA I need only my photo license not both parts.
    In the UK I need to have both parts.
    Other countries have a similar license/licence but when renting in the UK only need the photo card.
    My issue is that here in the UK I need both parts while others do not.
    Or have I missed something?.


    Binman, the issue here is that the UK issue the paper part of the licence which shows whether the driver has any convictions and how many points are on the licence. The hirer can make a decision in line with policy whether or not to hire a vehicle to that person

    Other licences may be different in what they show if at all.


    Binman: others *do* require both parts, if their national licences are multipart. From the Hertz FAQ:

    “Do I have to bring my drivers licence with me to the rental station?

    Yes. At time of rental, the driver must present a valid national driver’s licence which has been held for at least 1 year. (3 years in the case of Hertz Prestige Collection (HPC) vehicles.) In the case of a national driver’s licence, not printed on Roman script eg. Japanese, Arabic, Cryllic etc., the national driver’s licence must be accompanied by an International Drivers Permit (IDP).

    If a two-part licence (photocard and paper counterpart) is held, BOTH parts must be presented together at time of rental.”

    The fact remains though that in most jurisdictions, the full licence (single or multipart) must by law be carried at all times when driving. Thus, the entire licence (all parts) is confiscated at point of infraction when disqualification is the penalty – and the driver will have nothing left to show a rental company – not just only part. In the UK, it is usually only the paper counterpart that is surrendered for endorsement (including disqualification), so the presence of the photocard alone is no evidence of current licence to drive.

    If you read the major rental companies’ Ts&Cs carefully, you’ll see that they mandate the presentation of both parts of the UK licence, and all parts of any multipart licence from any country, at all locations Worldwide. That their employees regularly fail to demand such presentation outside of the UK does not in anyway override the Ts&Cs by dint of precedent, though it does reflect the fact that other jurisdictions are not subject to the criminal penalties laid down by the UK Road Traffic Act referenced above.


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    Just for clarity – even with the “requirement” for the paper section of your British DL, if you turn up to a UK rental car office sans requisite paper, they can call the DVLC to check your details. It takes 5 minutes and means you do not need to carry the paper counterpart at any time.



    It is a little known fact in the UK that all EC driving licences have a paper counterpart.

    NTarrant’s and continental club’s explanations about the offences listing is also true of other licences, as these are not printed on the photocard and cc is right when he says that you only have a licence when both parts are produced together.

    NomadicTendencies, I would not rely on this process, since the last time I hired a car at LGW, this situation applied to the customer in front of me and the rental company (a household name) flatly refused to do this, even though the customer proactively suggested it.

    I carry both parts of my licence with me at all times, since a rental company (or indeed a policeman) is entitled to ask to see it. I do not often get asked to produce the paper part, however. The last time was in the UK, but it was about 3 years ago – the woman at the car rental counter was very sharp (in the swtiched on sense, as she was also polite) and well aware that all EC licences are 2 part, kudos to her.

    In Germany (possibly some other countries, too) one must also produce either an ID card or a passport, since the local laws mandate that ID must be established and a photo driving licence does not meet this need.

    Vintage Krug, if you wish to be clever, he may carry a licence, but be required to prove that he is licensed by producing the licence.

    Practically, I really don’t see what great harm is done when the context of the sentence is so clear, it is hardly an event to put the ravens to flight, but if it keeps you happy……

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