DVLA online services crash as thousands apply to renew car tax

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) new online car tax service has crashed as thousands try to renew their tax online ahead of paper discs being abolished today.


The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) new online car tax service has crashed as thousands try to renew their tax online as paper discs are abolished today.

This morning the agency tweeted: “We are currently experiencing high volumes of traffic to our online car tax service, please try later. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

The DVLA blamed the problems on “unprecedented demand”, with 6,000 users a minute trying to access the service on Tuesday evening.

About 250,000 motorists managed to renew their vehicle tax yesterday according to the DVLA, before it took both the phone and online service down overnight for “essential maintenance”.  

A spokesperson told ComputerworldUK that the service has experienced more than double its usual demand.

The site was unresponsive when ComputerworldUK tried to access it at 10.30am this morning.

The website says the service is in ‘beta’, meaning it is the first version of the new service and a phase when the agency gathers “feedback and data to make further improvements” before it goes live.

Michael Allen, VP at Dynatrace (formerly Compuware APM), an application performacne management specialist, said, "High traffic volumes and beta sites are simply not an excuse. The digital citizen demands that web services work as expected when they go to use them. It's fairly straightforward to test performance these days to ensure that your service can cope with high levels of traffic.

"I'm sure the DVLA will recover from this, but today should be a warning shot to all organisations adopting a digital first strategy; digital first also needs to mean performance first."

From today, paper tax discs have been abolished in favour of digital records, a move the government says will make vehicle taxation easier, remove unnecessary paper, and make it easier for people and businesses to use government services.

The tax will now be enforced using DVLA’s digital records and automatic number plate readers rather than visual inspections.

The change was announced in December 2013 by chancellor George Osborne during his autumn statement to Parliament.

The DVLA was yet to provide an explanation of why it had not prepared for the uptick in users and when the service would become available again at the time of publishing. 

Earlier this summer the government announced that paper driving licenses will stop being issued from January 2015 as driving records go online. 

‘View Driving Record’, an online service which allows you to find out which vehicles you can drive, penalty points and when your licence expires, is currently available in 'beta'.