Monday, 11 March 2013

Update on UK licences not valid for French residents.

It's been a few weeks since I first posted this slightly alarming story and I have had replies from the DVLA through my old UK MP Sir Roger Gale as my own attempts to communicate directly could not elicit a reply.
Although in the scheme of things my query is not of major import, it nevertheless received the full attention of Sir Roger and his staff and was dealt with promptly. The request was simple - could the DVLA explain how we Brits, when visiting the UK using our UK licences, could avoid a £1000 fine for not having our current UK address on said licence as UK law insists. The Road Traffic Act (1988) section 99 states:-

(4)Where the name or address of the licence holder as specified in a licence ceases to be correct, its holder must forthwith surrender the licence to the Secretary of State and provide him with particulars of the alterations falling to be made in the name or address and, in the case of a provisional licence as respects which the prescribed conditions are satisfied, with a statement of his sex and date of birth.
(5)A person who fails to comply with the duty under subsection (4) above is guilty of an offence.

Apparently this does not apply to UK licence holders who are just visiting the UK. How we are meant to convince a copper that we are just visiting and this piece of law does not therefore apply is not made clear. The production of an EDF bill only proves that we have a property of some kind here, it does not prove residency. Would it also be a bit presumptious of us to expect the average copper to be a french speaker and understans what french document was being shown to him?
Where does it say that we do not have to comply with the law? I contacted Sir Roger again who in turn contacted the DVLA. The replies are attached.

The sensible thing seemed to contact the police to see how they would perceive the situation. I sent:-

Dear sirs,
I am trying to establish how a British French resident can meet the legal obligation of a UK licence with reference to the holder's address. It is, I believe, an offence for a licence holder to not have his current address on his licence & can be fined up to £1000.
I have published the following on various websites & wish to provide an answer.MP Sir Roger Gale has approached the DVLA on my behalf & received the reply which I include here. This does not answer the question as I'm sure that just telling a police officer that I live in France does not go far enough & perhaps some proof would be asked for. We no longer have to carry a residents permit here & all other forms with a French address would only prove the ownership of a house here which could be just a holiday home. Can you give me a definitive answer as to what the average policeman would accept for this situation so that I can pass this on to the ex-pat community?
Many thanks.

The reply:-
Thank you for your contact however the advice I need to give is to liaise with the DLVA in relation to this matter.

This I shall do on my own as I feel that my MP and his staff have devoted enough of their time on this when there are more serious issues to address.
I shall try and find a legal eagle and see if I can find an answer.

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