DVLA's new website crashes on launch day, as paper counterpart of driving licence is scrapped

Drivers are unable to access essential information only available online

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A new Government website which gives drivers vital information needed to hire cars overseas has crashed on the day it was launched.

The website was created after the paper counterpart of the photocard driving licence was abolished in England, Scotland and Wales last year.

Under the new scheme, drivers wishing to hire a vehicle need to access information on their driving record on the DVLA website. The details, including offences and endorsements, is passed on to car firms.

However, many people have reported problems with the site, and have been caught out by needing to supply their national insurance number.

The AA is among the firms to say its members are encountering issues, while a car hire firm in Bristol told the BBC it had a queue of 20 people waiting as staff were unable to access their details online.

Another car another operator nearby “had a queue of customers out of the door”.

The AA president Edmund King said: “There have been problems for some of our members. We have heard that a number have found the DVLA website very slow.

"Another problem is the need to give a national insurance number. People travelling abroad and hiring vehicles could well not have this number to hand. We are pushing for a change on the website, so people are asked for their passport number instead."

DVLA chief executive Oliver Morley said: "We are currently experiencing exceptionally high demand for this service.

"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."

Additional reporting by PA