The DVLA is looking at the possibility of offering free-of-charge electronic driving licence checks when it abolishes the paper counterpart, a move expected in January 2015.

The association’s integrated enquiries platform product owner Ryan Davies told the recent ACFO London East regional meeting that, although plans are at an early stage, minimal or zero cost is the aim.

“There’s no decision on cost yet but we don’t envisage a cost at this stage for real-time access, but there will need to be a full consultation,” he said. “Because of cost savings in other areas, it will potentially be free or a lot cheaper and easier to manage.”

Ryan confirmed that fleets currently only employing a visual check of licences will need to change their approach from the beginning of 2015, as would daily rental companies that don’t yet employ a visual check, although it’s uncertain where this would leave existing driver licence-checking firms and services.

“If you are using third parties, their business model will need to change as technology changes with driver and vehicle management,” said DVLA product manager Julie Riseley.

“The new technology is quicker, cheaper and costs us less, so we would want to pass that onto customers.”

She said fleets being under longer-term contracts with licence-checking suppliers would be one area the consultation will be designed to address.

‘Are we putting businesses out of business, or changing their business model, and what are we doing to [fleets’] costs?,” she continued. “We need to investigate these and it all needs to be taken into account.”

Riseley also outlined other changes the DVLA is making, including the closure of its regional offices, and how that will impact upon fleets. The local DVLA offices will be closing between October and December 2013, though chknme said a lot are being picked up by Post Office counters.

There will also be a drop-and-collect service for fleets taxing multiple vehicles. First registration tax discs will now be issued centrally rather than locally to dealers, but there is now a 14-day window where a car isn’t required to display a tax disc, as well as a 14-day advanced registration period to apply for the documentation ahead of the date the car is needed on the road.

The DVLA will post the first tax disc to the supplying dealer, to the registered owner or to a fleet.

The association is also looking at the digitisation of three of its services among 25 the Government is focused on getting online: management of personal registration plates, changes of keeper/export details and traders and a change of registration details.

Looking to the future, chknme confirmed that the DVLA is looking at the possibility of abolishing the physical tax disc, as well as changing the ways to pay, and suppressing the V5.