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Paper driving licence to be phased out

Insurance policy documentThe government has announced plans to cut the bureaucracy facing motorists by phasing out the need to own an insurance certificate or paper driving licence.

The proposals, which are part of the coalition’s “red-tape challenge” to cut unnecessary state rules and regulations, will also mean drivers no longer have to renew off-road notices for unused and uninsured vehicles.

These changes are the official response to a four-week consultation carried out earlier in 2011 with motoring organisations and the general public to identify the least useful pieces of bureaucracy.

What changes are likely?

The Department for Transport (DfT) says that by 2015 drivers will no longer have to keep paper copies of their driving licences alongside the plastic photocard.

This, it is estimated, will save £8 million a year.

Paper licences are used to record endorsements but are seen as unnecessary as this information is also kept on the DVLA database.

Ministers also say that they plan to change the SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) system, which is used by motorists who own vehicles but wish to keep them off the road, uninsured.

At present, each SORN application has to be renewed annually despite the fact it is free.

It is proposed that in future, SORNs should remain in effect until the vehicle’s owner wishes to put it back on the road.

Finally, the DfT says it should no longer be a requirement for drivers to hold a certificate of car insurance.

This is because details of every insured car are held on the central Motor Insurance Database (MID), which can be checked by the police and other authorities, as well as the general public.

Positive reaction

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: “I’m delighted that the government has taken notice of public submissions that should make life easier for motorists.

"Abolishing paper or electronic certificates will cut administration costs and red tape for drivers and businesses.”

But Douglas said that insurers should still offer proof of cover when required by customers, for example if they were planning to take their cars overseas.

He added that changes to the SORN regulations were also welcome, and that the current annual renewal system placed an unfair burden on some vehicle owners.

“This is nonsense for those who, for example, are restoring a car over the long term or live overseas for most of the time and have a vehicle laid up. 

"I’m glad to see that the SORN will in future be continuous until such time as the car is once again used on the public highway.”

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