As I will shortly be hiring a car, I had the opportunity to try out the new process to replace the paper driving licence.
For those not on the UK, the driving licence consists of 2 parts : a photo id that gets renewed every 10 years that details what types of vehicles you can drive and your name and address, and a paper counterpart that details any endorsements or convictions. The main people who care about the paper part are the insurance companies, and by extension, the car hire companies who have to include insurance in their rates.
Prior to their abolition a few weeks ago, the paper licence had to be sent back to the DVLA to have endorsements or convictions added, and again to have them removed after 3 years. I’ll leave the possible opportunities for fraud and disruption as an exercise for the security minded reader.
The new process
In order to view your endorsements now, the dvla have a page on their website, secured by your driving licence number, your national insurance number (for US readers, think social security number), and your postcode, which is printed on your licence. So they don’t quite consider it public information, but it effectively is. If you ever use your payslip and your driving licence to prove your id, someone can see your endorsements, which is only slightly more secure than handing over the old paper licence.
However, in order to provide some security theatre and allow you not to disclose your national insurance number, the page does provide a printout and a time linked key which, when paired with your licence number, allows the recipient to verify your endorsement record directly with the dvla.
I have not had to renew my insurance since the changes, but I notice that the car hire companies hide the new dvla page deep in their terms and conditions, so it’s not given the same prominence as the requirement to provide the photo id part of the licence. Other than the fact the paper licence is no longer valid, I’m not sure of the use cases for this. Maybe it will make more sense when I renew my insurance and I can do all this online.
At the moment it feels like digital for the sake of it, and too many bridges back to the old way.