Earlier this year, major changes were made to driving licences in the UK. Until now, most driving licences were in two parts: a photo card, and a paper counterpart. The photo card follows a standard EU format, with your photo, name, address, date of birth, signature and validity details. Meanwhile the counterpart was used to list in more detail which vehicles you can drive and any ‘endorsements’ (otherwise known as penalty points, issued for motoring offences). Both pieces were to be kept together and presented when required.
In June, the paper counterpart of the driving licence was phased out. From now on, drivers in England, Wales and Scotland just need the photo card.
But this begs the question – how do you check if someone has any endorsements on their driving licence? Well, you can ask the internet. At the same time as the paper counterpart was phased out, a new portal on the government’s GOV.UK site was launched which allows you to view licence details online, and, optionally share this information with a third party.
Logging in requires your driving licence number, postcode and National Insurance number – the latter as some sort of authentication rather than a password. It’s therefore not very secure and could be used by anyone who can access your wallet, but arguably, the information in there is reasonably public anyway.
Once logged in, you can view in more detail the vehicles that you can drive, how many penalty points you have or whether you are disqualified from driving, and share your details. The screenshot above shows the vehicles I can drive with a basic, full car licence – cars, obviously, although notably this allows for up to 8 passenger seats as well as a driver, or a trailer up to a certain combined weight with the car. You’ll also notice that I can drive a tractor (category F), or a ride-on lawnmower (category K) on public roads. Not that I plan to. Additionally, should I complete a Basic Moped Training Course, I can drive categories AM and Q, which are small two or three wheeled mopeds with 50cc engines (or less).
There are also various vehicles that my driving licence covers provisionally: motorcycles, large cars with trailers, road rollers and tracked vehicles. I can drive these vehicles under supervision, but would need to pass the relevant tests to have my licence upgraded to full for these categories.
All of this information is technically on the back of my photo card driving licence, but seeing it spelled out properly on screen is better – it’s much easier to understand.
Finally, there’s the sharing tab, which replaces the paper counterpart in essence. If you need to hire a car, for example, you’ll need to log in and follow the instructions to create a sharing code, which you can give to the hire car firm. This allows them to check that you are allowed to drive the vehicle that you intend to hire, and are not disqualified or have too many points on your license. The codes are valid for 21 days, but can be revoked sooner if needed.
It’s a useful service, and if you’ve ever fancied driving a ride-on lawnmower on a public road, you should now be able to confirm whether you’ll be allowed to by law.