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Holiday car hire chaos as driving licence site crashes

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Website that replaces paper driving licence gets stuck in traffic

Problems with a new website designed to replace the paper part of the UK driving licence are causing chaos for holidaymakers attempting to hire cars. The DVLA launched the new site on Monday, as an electronic replacement for the paper form that lists past driving convictions and other relevant information required when hiring a car.

However, as with many previous government website launches, the site appears to be struggling under the weight of traffic (pun very much intended). The licence checker was reportedly down for much of yesterday, and when we attempted to access the site this morning, the page simply timed out.

The site is critical for those looking to hire a car, either at home or abroad. The site not only allows you to check your own driving history, but can be used to generate a code so that third parties – such as car hire firms – can run a check on your past convictions and eligibility to drive certain classes of vehicle. 

The website’s failure is hitting holidaymakers particularly hard, as car hire firms are refusing to hand over vehicles until British drivers can generate the necessary code. Even if they can get the site to function, it requires drivers to enter their driving licence number, postcode and National Insurance number to generate the code, with many people leaving their National Insurance details at home.

The DVLA admits the site has run into teething problems. “We are currently experiencing exceptionally high demand for this service,” the DVLA chief executive, Oliver Morley, said in a statement. “We are aware some customers are experiencing issues with the website and we are working very hard to resolve this as quickly as possible. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”


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