The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) has issued an update on its latest communications with the DVLA, bringing good news in terms of backlogs easing – but potentially worrying news when it comes to registering vehicles without their original chassis plates or those fitted with new bodywork.
The FBHVC’s DVLA manager, Ian Edmunds, commented: “I have written before about ‘missing’ chassis numbers, which in practice means any situation where the original chassis number is no longer present in its original form. Most recently this has arisen with regard to replacement chassis plates but it can arise in many different circumstances.”
Edmunds explains that in such a situation, the DVLA’s official position is that the original vehicle no longer exists and that the vehicle being presented for registration is ‘fresh’ and must be registered as such – probably with a ‘Q’ registration: “We recognise that there are some, both individuals and companies, who seek historic status for vehicles which are not entitled to it and that this policy is in part intended to counter such endeavours.” He also suggested, however, that such a policy is unreasonable in some circumstances: “This whole issue has been discussed with DVLA on several occasions over some years to no avail and the Federation is currently considering the next step.”
Following protracted lobbying and discussions in recent years, the FBHVC believed it had obtained agreement from the DVLA that a freshly constructed body on a vehicle with a chassis would be deemed acceptable if it was of a type and style that could have been fitted when the vehicle was first built. But according to Ian Edmunds, the DVLA appears to have altered its stance: “We know definitively of two cases, and anecdotally of a few more, where applications to register vehicles with what seem to us to be acceptable newly constructed bodies have been rejected. We have raised the issue with DVLA but they do not seem very keen to provide an explanation. We will keep trying.”
In more positive news, the FBHVC reports that DVLA backlogs are easing, with “continuing recovery” from the difficulties of the pandemic and staff shortages. The DVLA now has additional leased premises in Swansea and Birmingham, and has recruited what the FBHVC calls “significant numbers” of new staff at both sites. The result is turnaround times that are said to be back to pre-pandemic levels on most paper transactions, with no significant backlogs remaining. The FBHVC reports that despite the success of Swansea’s digital services, the DVLA stills receives around 80,000 individual items of physical mail each day.