“From January 19th 2013, all new driving licences issued across the EU will be in the form of a plastic “credit card,” with a standard European format and tougher security protection.” With this statement, the European Commission’s Directorate for transport announced an important change, that will improve security and road safety across Europe.The new credit-card style format license will replace some 100 paper and plastic models currently in use by more than 300 million drivers across the EU. The new licence will have to be replaced every ten years (or every 15 years if states choose this option). Licences for professional drivers will be valid for five years.
It includes a photograph of the holder and Member States can include a microchip giving access to information about the card holder. The licence has also been made almost impossible to falsify.Driving licences with unlimited validity – like those in Belgium – will have to be replaced by 19 January 2033.
States may require physical or mental aptitude tests for licence renewals if they consider it necessary. For professional drivers, a medical exam will be mandatory every time it is renewed.The new rules are also expected to end what is known as “driving licence tourism” by preventing those whose licences have been revoked in one state from applying for a new one in another member state.
If you have already got a driving licence, you should follow the rules applicable in your member state of residence as regards the procedure of exchanging your driving licence for the new harmonized EU model.If you move to another EU Member State, in principle, you do not need to exchange your driving licence for a local one since all driving licences are mutually recognised within the EU.However, if you move to another EU country and establish your residence there, you will need to exchange your licence for a local one once it expires.If you hold a driving licence for life and have established your residence in another EU country, the host member state may require you to exchange your licence for a local one after two years. You will then be subject to the same rules as nationals of that country regarding validity periods, medical checks and so forth.
The EU is introducing a harmonised licence model and minimum requirements for obtaining a licence. This should help to keep unsafe drivers off Europe’s roads – wherever they take their driving test. This won’t affect your driving entitlements
The new European driving licence will also protect vulnerable road users by introducing progressive access for motorbikes and other powered two-wheelers. The “progressive access” system means that riders will need experience with a less powerful bike before they go on to bigger machines. Mopeds will also constitute a separate category called AM.The EU has also harmonised the frequency of medical checks for lorry and bus drivers, which need to be carried out every time their driving licence is renewed.