With the DVLA soon to introduce changes to UK driving licences, read on to make sure you’re up to speed.
The first thing to make clear is that this change doesn’t affect photocard licences issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland.
The headline news is the abolition of the paper counterpart of British driving licences. As of Monday 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart will no longer have any legal standing and should be destroyed – but be sure to keep your photocard driving licence.
And what if you hold a paper (only) driving licence, the type dating from before 1998 when photocard licences were introduced? It’s simple: don’t throw it away. Paper only licences will still be valid. However, if you need to update the details on your licence after 8 June 2015 and you have a paper driving licence, your replacement will be a photocard.
So what does this mean for UK motorists and motorcaravanners? The reason for the paper counterpart’s existence in the first place was to carry information that there simply wasn’t room for on photocards, including any endorsements and penalty points you’ve got, plus a list of some classes of vehicle you’re allowed to drive. Fortunately, for motorcaravanners, some of the essential information is already and will remain on photocards. Turn over your photocard driving licence and have a look.
If you took and passed your driving test prior to 1 January 1997, you have a B+C1 licence which permits you to drive a motorhome with an MTPLM of up to 7500kg. This applies until you reach the age of 70, at which point you must submit the medical form D4 to continue driving a ‘van up to 7500kg MTPLM – until that has been approved, the limit is 3500kg MTPLM. That’s also the weight limit for those who passed their test on or after 1 January 1997, who gained a B licence. If B (only) licence holders wish to pilot motorhomes with an MTPLM of 3501-7500kg, they need to pass the C1 licence test. A C category licence test must be taken by all drivers wanting to drive ‘vans with an MTPLM over 7500kg, regardless of when they passed their original test – and all this information is on the back of your photocard.
After 8 June 2015, any information about your driving licence that’s not displayed on your photocard, such as penalty points and some categories of vehicle you're entitled to drive, will be recorded on the DVLA’s electronic database only. If you need to access this, you can do so for free by post or by phone or online (you’ll have to have your driving licence number, the postcode on your driving licence and your National Insurance number to hand).
Of course, sometimes you need to show your paper counterpart driving licence, such as when you rent a vehicle, so after these changes, how do you go about providing evidence of your driving record? Once again, it is a case of going online and using the DVLA’s Share Driving Licence service.
However, while the government updates and streamlines its paperwork, we at Practical Motorhome can’t help but lament the fact that many younger motorcaravanners are still restricted to ‘vans with MTPLMs of 3500kg and under. While increasingly advanced construction methods and technologies mean ‘vans are more lightweight than ever, so you get more ‘van per kilo, not everyone can afford one of these newer, lighter motorhomes. And if you’ve got a big family and you want to go on tour, you might need more space than these often smaller, sub 3500kg ‘vans can provide. The hassle and expense of taking lessons and passing an extra test to upgrade your driving licence could be sufficient to put off some would-be motorcaravanners.