I joined the modern world today when my
ID card photo driving licence arrived in the post.Â Since the new photo licences were introduced I have not changed name, changed address, had any endorsements added or removed, ((not that I have ever had any sort of endorsement to be removed)) or had any categories added or removed.Â In short, there was no reason to get a new licence.
I could have changed just to get one of the new photo ones, but I couldn’t see the point of forking out just for that.Â I changed my mind at the weekend when I saw that it has now got a bit cheaper to do itÂ combined with a realisation that its now just a little bit weird to only have the old paper one.Â It is now increasingly common for places that want forms of identification to much prefer something with a photo on it and I’m tired of having to dig out the passport. Also, Jayne told me how the system involved issupposed to extract details from your passport so you don’t have to sign anything or post photos. My inner anorak wanted to see that work.
I was quite impressed by the process from a technical point of view.Â I did it all online and supplied my passport number so that the photo and signature could be taken from those records, and within 4 working days the new licence arrived.
I am expecting/hoping for a similarly easy process when the time comes to renew the passport.
The whole thing is not perfect though.Â For example, I can see why it might be a good thing to have to register and get an ID for all the e-government stuff but I can’t see why the ID has to be so long. Â It is alphanumeric, so with only a 5-character ID it is possible to have enough unique combinations for the whole population.Â With a 6-character ID you have enough combinations for the entire population of the country for many generations – but the ID number is much, much longer than that.
Sorry. Its just something that bugs me.Â Like how my Southern Water customer number is a 10-digit number.Â Do they really think they are going to have 10 billion customers?
But that is a small gripe compared to having to still have a paper licence.Â And not just any paper licence, but an A4 sized one that you are, apparently, supposed to keep and carry around.Â The main benefit of the credit card-sized licence is that it is, well, credit card size.Â Fits easily into the wallet without having to be folded up.
So now have a sensibly-sized licence but still have toÂ fold up an A4 sheet so that the wallet will not close properly and the licence will get all ragged around the folds.Â Exactly one half of this is totally pointless – the back of it is full of instructions.Â By all means include some instructions in the envelope, but don’t require us to carry them around all the time.Â Credit cards come with a list of terms and conditions, but we are not required to carry them around all the time.
All that is on the paper version is endorsements, provisional entitlements, entitlement history and address.Â The address and provisional stuff could go on the plastic card.Â The rest could go into a magnetic stripe or a chip.Â As it stands my licence does not prove where I live.Â To do that I have to produce the paper supplement and show everyone that I am such a goody-goody that I have never had any endorsements.
The only people who need to see that sort of thing are the police, who could easily have a card-reader built into their pandas.Â The courts who dish out endorsements could have equipment to write to the cards.
All in all its frustrating.Â The massive bureaucracy of ours has taken a good idea and turned it into something half-arsed again – but I am still unreasonably pleased to have my shiny new bit of plastic.