You might have already heard that from January, the paper counterpart of the driving licence is being phased out. The change is following in the footsteps of the changes to the tax disc, and is intended to do away with the need for unnecessary pieces of paper, making processes easier, streamlined, and more efficient. It’ll also save taxpayers’ money, as there will be less of an administrative burden.

If you’re one of the 46 million motorists in Britain, you might be wondering what these changes will mean for you. In short, the DVLA says that you don’t need to do anything. The next time that you need to update your name, address, or renew your licence, you’ll be issued with a photocard-only replacement. This applies whether you currently have a photocard licence, or the old paper-only document. If you do have the newer version though, it’s worth noting that you need to renew this every ten years. You will receive a reminder in the post, but if you miss it, you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

Of course though, as is often the case when new systems are implemented, there are some real concerns that have been raised about the implications of the switchover, and how they will be managed on a practical level.

One of these is the impact that the changes will have when you decide to rent a car. Now, it’s worth noting here that many people never rent a car. They use their own for purposes such as getting to work and visiting the shops, and they never have the need to use a hire vehicle. Many people do use this option though. Perhaps you travel regularly with work and pick up a rental car at the airport when you arrive in your destination, or maybe you live in an inner-city area and have no need to drive on a daily basis, but occasionally choose to rent when you want to escape to the countryside for a couple of days.

The potential problem is that the new online system that will replace the paper counterpart is not yet up and running, and experts say that it’s unlikely to be ready to go by January. So when the hire company needs to check your credentials before they hand over the keys, they’ll need to call a DVLA premium-rate number. It’s very likely that these costs could be passed onto the consumers, meaning they have to fork out more cash for exactly the same service that they’re used to paying a certain amount for. If you regularly hire a car, it will be worthwhile to keep a close eye on how rates might be affected. It could also be the case that queues are longer. Leave extra time if you’re planning an important journey, just in case.

This isn’t the only issue that has been raised in light of the new system. Fraudsters have been sending out emails asking people to verify their details to be in line with the new arrangements, and this could lead to bank account details being compromised. The DVLA have advised that if you receive an email of this nature, you should simply ignore it. Emails like this can be extremely confusing for elderly people and those who are less tech-savvy, so you may wish to let friends and family know about what’s happening.

The changes have kept quite a low profile in the press, but the implications are undoubtedly causing a stir. How the authorities will deal with the potential problems remains to be seen.