Silicon Swansea

Given my constant ranting about firms and government departments that make a complete mess of anything to do with technology, it’s nice to find an exception: the DVLA in Swansea (our equivalent of the DMV, for anyone reading in the US). Instead of queuing in the post office for hours to re-licence the car, you can now do it online.

The process is ridiculously simple. You get a reminder in the post, and you then visit the DVLA web site, pop in the reference number from the reminder, and confirm that the car details on screen are yours. The site then automatically interrogates its database to confirm that you have up-to-date car insurance and an MOT certificate (if applicable), asks you for your debit card details, and sends out a brand new tax disc to your home within five working days. And that’s it. It’s a shining example of how, if used correctly, the internet can make everyday irritations that little bit less irritating.





0 responses to “Silicon Swansea”

  1. How the heck do they get the info on the MOT and the insurance? Do my mechanic and my insurance company open their databases to the DVLA?

  2. The MOT stuff is all centrally managed (since it is a government thing). When you buy insurance you are automatically registered on a system called MID (Motor Insurance Database) which can cross-reference all cars with insurance policies.

    In *every* insurance policy there is something like this

    “Your policy details will be added to the Motor Insurance Database (MID), run by the Motor Insurers’ Information Centre (MIIC). This may be consulted by the Police in order to establish who is insured to drive the vehicle. If you are involved in an accident (in the UK or abroad), other UK insurers, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and MIIC may search the MID to ascertain relevant policy information.”

    There are no valid insurers in the UK that do not do this and if you ask to opt out then your insurance is invalidated.

    MID can be accessed by the DVLA, the police and all insurance companies.

  3. A shorter answer to the original question is “Yes they do”. ;-)

    (I used to work in IT for a large car insurance firm)

  4. Out of interest (OK, mibbe not that interesting) but when you but car insurance you details are passed through at least 5 different databases while you’re still on the phone. (That isn’t counting the company’s own one)

    I know far too much about this. Ask me about Bingo! ;-)

  5. OMFG!!!!

    I’m almost sorry I asked…

    Suppose it makes sense but it’s still a little unsettling, and not exactly publicised, either

  6. I swear by any type of internet payment that keeps me out of the post office or bank. By paying everything online I realise that I’ve been completely sucked into the banks’ agenda to get cutomers out of the branches thereby letting them lay off more staff and make more profit but if I have to go into one more (Aussie) bank or post office where the staff have forgotten basic manners or day to day pleasantries I might have to shoot someone.

  7. I bank with First Direct, so never have to deal with pesky branches at all. Back in the days when I was with the Royal Bank of Scotland, their telephone service was always excellent and the staff in their branches were bastards.

    The DVLNI are not as good as the DVLA in this regard. They are, in fact, utter shite.

    I’m glad to see one instance of the government getting database use right: if they’re going to collect our details, the least they can do is make it useful for us. For instance, I am currently paying tax through my employers, all cross-referenced to my national insurance number. Yet, when I sign on for unemplyment benefit, the government will ask me to fill out multiple forms telling them my last place of employment (which they already know), how long I worked there (which they already know), when I left (which they already know), my most recent salary (which they already know), my address (which they already know), etc, et bloody cetera. All I should need to give them is my NI number. Tsk.