On 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photo-card driving licence was abolished and ceased to be valid. The counterpart was previously used to display driving licence details that could not be included on the photo card.

Validity of paper driving licences

Drivers with existing paper counterparts
If a driver holds a paper counterpart, it has no legal status. They should destroy their paper counterpart but keep their current photo-card driving licence.

Drivers with paper driving licences
Many people ask, are paper driving licences still valid? The answer is yes, paper driving licences issued before the photo card was introduced in 1998 remain valid and should not be destroyed.

Penalty points (endorsements)
Since 8 June 2015, new penalty points (endorsements) have been recorded electronically and they are not printed or written on either photo-card licences or paper driving licences. From this date, if a driver committed an offence the driver will still have paid any applicable fine and submitted their licence to the court but the way the court deals with the paperwork changed.

  • For photo-card licences, the court retains the paper counterpart and only return the photo card.
  • For paper licences, the court returns it, but they won’t have written or printed the offence details on it.

This means that neither the photo-card driving licence nor the paper licence provides an accurate account of any driving endorsements a driver may have. Instead, this information will be held on DVLA’s driver record, and can be checked online, by phone or post.

How to check your own driving licence details

The free View Driving Licence service lets you see what details are on your licence, including what vehicles you can drive and any penalty points you may have.

Confirming your driving record to an employer or when hiring a vehicle
If you are hiring a vehicle or you drive for a living and you are asked to provide evidence of your driving record (entitlements and/or penalty points), you will be able to share your driving licence online for free by accessing the Share Driving Licence service. The service allows you to download a summary of your licence record which can be printed or shared.

Alternatively, you can call DVLA and give permission for your driving record to be checked verbally by a nominated person/organisation.

Checking driving records without the paper counterpart
If you need to check the DVLA driving record of customers or employees then the free online Share Driving Licence service should be used with the consent of the driving licence holder.

Why was the paper driving licence abolished?
The decision to abolish the counterpart was as a result of the government’s Red Tape Challenge consultation on road transportation. It also aligned to DVLA’s Strategic Plan, which included a commitment to simplifying their services.

Paper driving licenses in Northern Ireland
Driver licensing is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and therefore these changes do not affect licences issued by the DVA NI.
Updates to HR Documents From an employers perspective, it is key to ensure that driving licence checks should be undertaken where employees are driving on behalf of the organisation. These arrangements should be outlined within your Employee Handbook or Company Car Policy.

The requirement to hold a valid licence may also need to be a contractual requirement if driving is critical. The relevant documents can be found on the MAD-HR toolkit.