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FTA urges members to prepare for driving licence check switch

The paper counterpart to the driving licence will be replaced by an online checking service from Monday – and FTA is urging its members to make sure they’re ready.

Endorsements will no longer be recorded on the paper part of the licence and employers will have to check drivers’ entitlements using the DVLA’s new online Share My Licence service or via a third party checking service.

FTA has provided a comprehensive briefing for members on its website – www.fta.co.uk – to help them prepare for the switch, which is part of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge to reduce legislative burden.

To check if a driver has the correct licence, the driver himself must first request an access code from DVLA, which remains active for only 72 hours. This is then provided to the employer, who uses the online service to make the check.

If checks can’t be done online, the driver can call DVLA to give permission for a check and the employer then uses a premium rate number to follow up.

Checking non-GB licences cannot be done on the same system – checks have to be made on a premium rate phone line during normal office hours.

Ian Gallagher, FTA’s lead on DVLA, said: “We want to ensure all our members are ready for the switch to online checking and know exactly what to do.

“Far from reducing the burden, FTA believes this new system will be more cumbersome for employers. FTA members who employ hundreds if not thousands of drivers have complained to us that the proposed system adds time to the licence checking process forcing many to look for a cost alternative.’’

The Association is disappointed that, despite prolonged dialogue, DVLA has failed to develop a suitable online alternative which would provide an employer with the ability to check driver details in bulk, instead relying on a system which requires the licence holder to go online obtain a PDF or access code and provide that to their employer within 72 hours.

FTA says the Agency has also failed to recognise that not all employees are domestic drivers. Given the shortage of vocational drivers in GB, many operators employ drivers from Europe. These drivers are encouraged to obtain a counterpart so that points can be attributed to an individual’s licence. From Monday, licences will not be endorsed with penalty points, therefore the only way an employer is able to check a licence being presented to them is by checking with DVLA.

Unfortunately, despite continued requests that this information be made available through the online systems, DVLA has failed to provide a facility other than a telephone number which is only available during working hours for employer to check licence details.

Mr Gallagher added: “This is completely unacceptable. DVLA has had fair warning of this requirement and will mean that some non UK drivers reporting for work will be sent home if their licence details can’t be verified, this information must be made available on the proposed checking systems at the earliest opportunity."

The association is urging DVLA and the Government to rethink its approach to licence checking and introduce a system that provides an employer with mandated authority from the driver to check licence details as and when required in bulk and free of charge.

FTA’s Driver Licence Checking Service has been developed in conjunction with Licence Bureau™, the country’s leading provider of secure driver licence checks. The service is designed to minimise the hassle and risks associated with checking whether your drivers are safe and legally compliant to operate your vehicles. For more information please contact Member Services on 08717 112222.

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