The decision to extend the licence check code’s lifespan from 72 hours to 21 days has been described as a “victory for common sense”.
However, several other recommended changes to the DVLA driving licence-checking service look less likely to succeed.
The authority’s online licence checking service was officially launched on June 8, when the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence was abolished.
Fleets can now view up-to-date driving licence information using the DVLA’s Share Driving Licence service, which is accessible via the View Driving Licence website.
To share their details, motorists must generate a code, which can then be redeemed just once by a third party.
Dudley Ashford, drivers’ services manager at the DVLA, told Fleet News: “For some, the 72-hour validity period is not long enough, particularly for those who may need it when travelling. That is why we have extended the validity period to 21 days.
“We originally set the validity of the check code to 72 hours to provide a balance between the practicalities for those who need the code and minimising the risk of unauthorised access to potentially personal data.
“Security is maintained as the code can be cancelled at any time, putting the user in control of when their record can be accessed and by whom.”
Critically, each code can still only be used once, maintaining privacy.
The move has been welcomed by the RAC and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “This is a dramatic U-turn from the DVLA which feels very much like a victory for common sense.
“The move to three weeks is sensible as it provides sufficient flexibility for people hiring a car in the second or third week of a holiday or business trip.”
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, continued: “We’re pleased that the DVLA has listened to industry feedback that the code lifespan was too short.”
However, the BVRLA is calling on the DVLA to make other changes that it says would benefit fleets.
“We think that the DVLA should extend the opening hours of its call centre, because not all renters have access to the internet,” said Keaney.
“The agency should also waive the cost of the premium line telephone service that is used to check endorsements when motorists turn up without a code.”
The BVRLA also thinks that the DVLA could make it easier for people to access the website by being more flexible on the ID required, using a passport number rather than a national insurance (NI) number, for example.
The DVLA said that not everyone holds a passport, but everyone is issued with a NI number when they get to 16 years of age. It is, however, looking to introduce Gov.uk Verify as the authentication means for View Driving Licence in the future.
“As for the premium rate line, this is something that we set up many years ago in response to calls from the car hire industry,” said Ashford.
“They wanted a facility that would allow them to check a driver’s details if they forgot or didn’t have the paper counterpart.
“At their request, we’ve kept the service since we got rid of the counterpart to help them carry on their business if a driver can’t go online and needs to generate a code.
“We know that the average cost of this service to car hire companies is less than £1, but we also know that car hire companies can charge customers significantly more than that for using the service.”
The telephone enquiry line is available from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays.
Ashford concluded: “Our experience is that these times can cover the vast majority of enquiries. And, while we’re not currently considering extending opening hours, as always we’ll keep this under review.”