It has been the norm in Europe and the USA to have a plastic card as your licence, so much easier to carry around and more data can be stored on it. not to mention being stronger for those washing machine incidents. At last the UK have made the decision to scrap the paper version and bring us up to date.
But at the last minute there is confusion and stress especially for those wishing to hire a car abroad. It seems that even though we Brits know about the change, there are many foreign countries who do not and are still expecting a paper version of the licence when hiring a car. To add to the confusion, for those whose existing licence is not expiring and is wishing to swap over, the system has crashed preventing the right code to do so.
Is The World Really Aware?
The DVLA are defending themselves claiming the foreign rental companies and the relevant agencies are aware of the changeover, but it appears in the real world it may not be as well known. Lets be honest about this, many countries do not have the budget to publicise their own changes, never mind those occurring in another country.
There is still much confusion, but much of this seems to be coming from the media rather than the DVLA. The media sell this as an online service where you present a code to the hire service who then checks online. As a regular to Spain, I often pick up cars from airport car parks from agents who may have a wireless credit card machine, but do not have laptops to check licences and are they really only going to do this for the Brits.
The Official Version Of Things
But when you visit the official DVLA site, it talks about exchanging the paper licence for a photo card version, which most people will have anyway. So we have to assume the only real issues are from those who are renewing them either because the old card is lost or defaced.
In reality I could not find a page on the DVLA site that explained the changes for real, everything is third part via the motoring organisation like the AA . Some driving employers thing the changeover is more complicated than needs to be, quite ironic as it should be making things easier for everyone and cutting costs. The Guardian has its own story of things