A few weeks ago I lost my card UK driver's license somewhere in Arizona/Nevada.

Next week I head to California. My new license may not make it here in time.

However I still have the paper counterpart of my UK license.

I've been told you can drive/rent cars with the paper part + passport? Is this accurate, or do I need something additional?

2 Answers 2


It depends on who you're hiring from. If you're hiring from a small, local US hire car company, you might well be out of luck. If you're hiring from somewhere big, they should be able to help

Avis UK have a handy page on hiring a car without all of your UK driving licence, which covers what you can do depending on where in the world you are. They say that for Avis US locations:

Renting from Avis in the USA

When renting in the USA, you can rent a car with your photo card licence only, or with your paper counterpart licence and your passport. If you have neither part you cannot hire a car from an Avis office in the USA

Hopefully other larger companies will be able to do the same. Somewhere small is most likely to only be used to photocard driving licences, so may well not be able to satisfy themselves and their insurers with only the paper part and a passport.

In the UK, you can (normally for an extra fee) have the hire car company phone up the DVLA, and get confirmation from the DVLA that you hold a valid licence without too many points. That only works when the DVLA are open, and requires that the hire car company know about how to check with the DVLA. Maybe you could find a US hire car office that knew about how to do it, but it's not that likely, and you'd struggle with the time overlap of when the hire car place is open and when the DVLA call centre is open. You could always speak to the head office of the hire car place to see if they can set this up in advance though, you might get lucky but don't count on it!

  • 1
    But, ignoring the car company, is it legal to drive with just the countepart?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 18:51
  • 1
    Legal to rent? Legal to drive? Legal if a police officer asks you to attend a police station to show it? Covered by the insurance? These may all differ, and could well differ between different states in the US....
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 21:55
  • California. Legal to drive a rental car (my friend can rent it). And legal in that I won't get prosecuted for "driving without a license".
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 22:23
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    I would have thought it was OK - UK drivers will not have been issued photo licences if they haven't changed address since they were introduced.
    – Rikalous
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 18:37

In 2015, the UK abolished the paper counterpart to the driving licence; now only the photo card is used and the paper part should be destroyed.

As a consequence, the Avis web site now states:

After 8 June 2015, the UK driving licence will only have 1 part - a plastic, credit card-sized photo card licence. You must bring this the original valid photo card driving licence with you if it is a new style UK licence. Failure to bring a valid photo card driving licence may result in the rental being refused; we may require customers to consent to their licence records being accessed as needed*. Expired photo card licences will not be accepted and rental will be refused. All UK customers will need to hold a full and valid licence free from any endorsements excluded in our terms & conditions.

  • 1
    Just to add a further note from the DVLE web site: "Paper driving licences issued before 1998 are still valid. Do not destroy your licence." So only some paper licenses are invalid..... Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 12:53

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