I don't think I've ever been particularly down on the DVLA, but if I ever have I apologise. I'm now their no 1 fan. On the first day of our holiday to France we landed at Perpignan airport and Anne realised we'd forgotten my driving licence. She waited until we were at the baggage carousel to tell me, so as not to panic me, and I nipped out to the Hertz car rental kiosk.
I was a bit concerned. If we couldn't get the rental car we'd have to find our own way to the camp site (where we'd booked a cabin - essentially a large static caravan). That may be tricky, and it was getting towards the kids' bed time. We didn't fancy an adventure on public transport with two grumpy kids. And two grumpy parents. I figured that this sort of thing must happen all the time and they'd be able to check an online database for my details in seconds.
The lady behind the counter was friendly and helpful though, and said I needed to call the DVLA in the UK and ask them to fax my details over. (Fax! Who uses faxes in 2009?) She gave me the phone and fax numbers I needed too. I called them, and they said they could do it for a £5 fee, which I was happy to pay. They said it may take up to an hour, hopefully less time. After I'd queued for 10 minutes or so to tell the Hertz people to expect the fax it was there. Great stuff. The £5 fee must barely cover the hassle for the DVLA. They could have pretty much named their price so it was nice to see such a reasonable fee.
The Hertz lady told me that if a French person was in the UK and forgot their licence the French equivalent of the DVLA would offer no such service. They'd just have to do without a car. Hooray for those good folks in Swansea!
We got to our holiday home in time to feed and bath the kids before throwing them into bed. A potentially bad start to the holiday averted.