Get a driving licence DVLA check code for your holiday hire car

Drivers hiring cars in foreign holiday destinations can be asked for a code (known as a DVLA check code) to let the car rental firm view their driving record to check for points and other convictions.

Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden looks at what the code is, how to get it, why you need it – and what to do if you forget to get to get the DVLA check code before travelling.

Holiday hire car parked by a beachDon't forget to take your driving licence check code from the DVLA when hiring a car on holiday  (Credit:

Why do I need a DVLA Check code to hire a car on holiday?

The DVLA axed the paper counterpart that used to go with the driving licence photocard in 2015. These were used to show any penalty points that drivers had on their licence.

Going paperless meant that hire car firms could not check for penalty points as driving licence codes on photocards do not cover this.

How do I get the code to show hire car firms?

Drivers hoping to hire a car while abroad will need to log on to the DVLA’s website the day before they travel, where they can enter their driving licence and national insurance number to get an access code that will let a hire car company anywhere in the world check their details through a website after entering the code.

How long does the code last?

The code remains valid for 21 days, so this should cover most holidays. Just remember not to get the code too far in advance of your trip – or you may find it has expired.

We would advise setting an alarm not to remind you to get the driving licence code a couple of days at most before you are set to fly.

Can I download a copy of my driving record instead?

You can download a driver ‘record’ on a PDF document, print it out and show it when you arrive at the airport, but some motoring organisations originally had doubts that all hire car firms would accept this type of record.

Can I get my code on a mobile phone?

Yes. The DVLA has a service that works specifically for mobile phones such as iPhones or Android-based models.

Using the service will give you a button on your home screen on Android devices, or a pass in your Apple Wallet for iPhone users. This will then let you share your driving record with the likes of foreign holiday firms using a ‘check code’ or scannable QR code.

You can download the licence check for mobile phones here.

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How do I get one without internet access?

If you, or someone you are checking for, has no access to the internet, the DVLA helpline number will be able to assist. However, expect long waiting times when attempting to deal with a person at the DVLA due to backlogs caused by the Covid pandemic, working from home and possible industrial action.

The DVLA contact number is as follows:

Telephone: 0300 083 0013

Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm

Saturday, 8am to 2pm

Can I get one for a paper licence?

Yes, paper licences are still acceptable as long as they have the correct details, such as address, and should be accepted by the hire car firm. However, if you need to update your details it will be replaced with a photocard-style licence and you may experience longer waiting times to receive your new driving licence – so factor this in with your holiday dates.

How to get my code right now

Online: Here’s how to get your code to share with hire firms before your holiday.

  1. Logon to the DVLA website and go to the ‘View your driving licence’ service here
  2. Log in using your driving licence number, National Insurance number and postcode.
  3. You can then click the option to get your licence code that will be valid for 21 days.
  4. If you don’t have your driving licence number on you, click here to log in using just your National Insurance number and name and address.

By post: If you don’t have internet access, you can write to the DVLA and request a print-out of your licence record for the hire car company. Remember, this service may take longer than usual after the pandemic.

Send the following information:

  • your full name and address
  • your driver licence number (or your date of birth if you don’t know your driver number)

Driver Licence Validation Service
SA99 1AJ

Will I definitely need one to hire a car while on holiday?

While many hire car companies state the need for the code to be produced, many travellers have not been asked to provide the number while collecting their car from the airport etc.

However, while it may not be required at many places, it seems that there is no consistent policy across international hire firms, and we strongly recommend obtaining a check code before you leave – as you could in extreme cases lose your car and money if you don’t have one.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

Read all articles by Pete Barden

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