Goldcar didn’t accept our paper UK driving licences but hasn’t refunded us


Last September we booked a car rental with Goldcar for our holiday in Spain. My husband and I both have paper driving licences and I’d read in Consumer Champions we might need an international driving permit (IDP) for our trip.

With this in mind I rang its office in Spain to check and they assured us our paper licences would be fine. However, when we arrived to collect the car at Murcia airport we were told they were not valid.

The woman we dealt with was very helpful and checked with its head office. However, we were told we couldn’t have a car but would get a full refund for the £600 booking.

When we returned home we contacted Goldcar and were informed a refund was being processed and it could take up to 14 days.

When the money did not appear we rang again and discovered this had not happened. In November, we received an email explaining the problem had arisen due to the inaccurate information given by their employee and no refund would be given.

We don’t think this is fair and tried to contact them again but there has just been silence. We would be extremely grateful if you could help us get our refund as we really do not know what to do next.

SG, Nottingham

In 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence was abolished but paper licences issued before 31 March 2000 are still valid. However, the reality is that some car hire firms will not accept a licence without a photo on it and last year we wrote about a similar rejection by InterRent.

We contacted Goldcar on your behalf and it has apologised for your poor experience and blamed confusion regarding UK driving licences and their acceptance in Spain after Brexit.

Goldcar says: “We acknowledge that information provided on our website and by our staff has not been consistent or clear. Our website correctly states that UK driving licences are accepted, but that we require a licence with an ID picture. However, some UK citizens only have a paper format licence which does not include an ID picture. We are therefore updating our processes to allow the provision of a separate ID picture – such as a passport – for identification.” It has processed a €652 (£576) refund and is sending you an apology letter.

Last time I said if you are hiring a car read the ID conditions carefully to avoid a stressful situation at the airport. You did this and it still didn’t work out. An IDP is a multi-language translation of your driving licence and you do not need one to drive in countries such as Spain. But if you intend to keep using a paper licence rather than a photocard (which costs £20) it might be worth getting one for peace of mind. They cost £5.50 and are available at a post office.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at [email protected] or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

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