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The MSA issues more than 34,000 licences every year, across a variety of disciplines. Traditionally the licence has been in a paper format, but with the increase in technology new options have presented themselves. Since 2005, licences have been equipped with barcodes to facilitate more efficient processing of applications and this has enabled competitors to track the progress of their licence applications on-line through the MSA website.

"The introduction of bar coding has had a huge impact on our service levels," says Colin Hilton, Chief Executive of the Motor Sports Association. "We now turn round licences in days rather than weeks and because people are able to follow the progression of their licence, calls to the licensing department have dropped by about 80%, leaving the staff free to process them ever more quickly."

The next stage in modernising the process involves the switch to plastic licences so that every competitor will receive a credit-card sized document, containing most of the information currently accommodated on the paper licence. However, what might initially seem a straight-forward and obvious policy decision, is not without its challenges.

"There are a number of factors that mean that this is not as simple as it sounds," explains Hilton. "Driving endorsements and upgrading signatures are currently marked on licences by hand and this is even stipulated in the Blue Book, so not only do we have to create an electronic system of logging and monitoring amendments, but we also have to rewrite the regulations accordingly.

"Coupled with this is the significant cost implication. If we were to propose an increase in licence fees to pay for the new card licence, I am certain that many people would say `I`ll stick with the paper version thanks,` so we have to also accommodate the costs of the new system. However, it is definitely the right way to go and is another significant step forward in the modernisation of the MSA."