Britain's hi-tech future of glue sticks and ink pads

PUBLISHED: 16:34 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:34 15 February 2019

The Post Office offers International Driving Permit services in branches across the UK. Photograph: PA/Anthony Upton.

The Post Office offers International Driving Permit services in branches across the UK. Photograph: PA/Anthony Upton.

PA Wire/PA Images

A reader describes the painful process of trying to buy an International Driving Permit from the Post Office ready for March 29th.

Will a no-deal Brexit return us to a pre-digital age? A few days ago I bought an International Driving Permit, supposedly needed to drive abroad after March 29 in the event of a no-deal exit, at one of the few Post Offices currently supplying them.

The counter clerk transcribed by hand details from my current British licence on to a paper version; only my place of birth was “new information”. She added the dates of issue and expiry of the IDP using an adjustable stamp and an ink pad.

The pad also came in handy for other stamps needed to confirm (in various boxes) the categories of vehicle I could drive, and to prove that my photo, stuck on with a glue stick, really was of me. The whole process took 10 minutes, and another customer at the next window needed just as long.

My wife’s permit, which I also obtained, took 15 minutes as there was some confusion over what vehicles she could drive – her exact permutation of category codes seemed not to appear on a crib sheet the clerk had.

I joked that I had not seen kit like the date stamp for years, and suggested that the Post Office would be overwhelmed when demand for IDPs picked up in summer.

At £5.50 a licence this visit was good entertainment value, but I am concerned that a no-deal departure would take us back to the 1970s in a far more general way, at the cost of so much we have achieved as a society since then.

Dick Knight, Leeds

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