European driving licence


The European driving licence is a driving licence issued by the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA); all 27 EU member states and three EFTA member states; Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which give shared features the various driving licence styles formerly in use. It is credit card-style with a photograph and a microchip. They were introduced to replace the 110 different plastic and paper driving licences of the 300 million drivers in the EEA. The main objective of the licence is to reduce the risk of fraud.

European driving licence
Examples of the European driving licence issued in Germany and Norway. Licences issued in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway do not feature the EU flag.
Issued by Member states of the European Economic Area[lower-alpha 1]
First issued29 July 1991
PurposeAccess to unified driving licence in any of the EEA member states
Valid inThe European Economic Area
EligibilityEEA residency

A driving licence issued by a member state of the EEA is recognised throughout the EEA and can be used as long as it is valid, the driver is old enough to drive a vehicle of the equivalent category, and the licence is not suspended or restricted and has not been revoked in the issuing country. If the holder of an EEA driving licence moves to another EEA country, the licence can be exchanged for a driving licence from the new EEA country. However, as all EEA driving licences are recognised throughout the EEA, it is usually not necessary to exchange it.[1]

The exception is for those holding EEA driving licences issued in exchange for a non‑EEA licence. When holding a converted licence, one should not assume the licence can be exchanged when moving to another EEA country. This only applies when permanently relocating to a different EEA country. As a tourist, an EEA-licence issued in exchange of a non-EEA licence is recognised throughout the EEA.[1]

History


1980–1996

The first step to a European driving licence was taken on 4 December 1980, when the Council of Ministers adopted Council Directive 80/1263/EEC on the introduction of a Community driving licence, which established a Community model national licence that guaranteed the mutual recognition by the Member States of national licences. It also established the practice of exchange of licences by holders moving from one Member State to another.

1996–2013

Directive 91/439/EEC
European Union directive
TitleCouncil Directive on driving licences
Made byCouncil of the European Union
Made underArt. 75 TEC
Journal referenceL237, pp 1–24
History
Date made29 July 1991
Came into force24 August 1991
Implementation date1 July 1996
Other legislation
ReplacesDirective 80/1263/EEC
Replaced byDirective 2006/126/EC
Repealed

On 29 July 1991, the Council of Ministers adopted the Council of the European Union Directive 91/439/EEC on driving licences. The directive required EU Member States to adopt laws implementing the directive before 1 July 1994, which took effect on 1 July 1996. Directive 80/1263/EEC was repealed on the same date.

Directive 91/439/EEC was incorporated into the EEA Agreement through Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 7/94 of 21 March 1994,[2] and specified driving licence in the European Union and the European Economic Area until its repeal on 19 January 2013.

Provisions

The Council of the European Union Directive 91/439/EEC harmonised the categories of driving licences among the Member States and established two Community driving licence models, one paper version and one plastic card version. It furthermore established an obligatory test of knowledge (theory) and a test of skills and behaviour (practical) which had to be successfully passed before an individual is offered a driving licence. It also required an applicant to meet the minimum standards of physical and mental fitness to drive. The directive specified the minimum ages for driving different types of vehicles, and established progressive access in categories A, C, and D, from light vehicles to larger or more powerful vehicles. The directive stipulated that it is mandatory to have the normal residence in the Member State issuing the licence.[3]

Amendments

The Directive was substantially amended by nine directives and two acts of accession. The plastic card version of the Community licence model, for example, was added to the Directive by Council Directive 96/47/EC of 23 July 1996.[4]

Since 2013

Directive 2006/126/EC
European Union directive
Text with EEA relevance
TitleDirective of the European Parliament and of the Council on driving licences (Recast)
Made byEuropean Parliament & Council
Made underArt. 71 TEC
Journal referenceL403, pp. 18–60
History
Date made30 December 2006
Came into force19 January 2007
Implementation date19 January 2013
Other legislation
ReplacesDirective 91/439/EEC
Current legislation

In March 2006, the Council of Ministers adopted a Directive proposed by the European Commission to create a single European driving licence to replace the 110 different models in existence throughout the EU/EEA at the time.[5][6] The European Parliament adopted the Directive in December 2006.[7] Directive 2006/126/EEC was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 30 December 2006.[8] Its provisions took effect on 19 January 2013; Directive 91/439/EEC was then concurrently repealed.

Provisions

The licence is a credit-card-style, single plastic-coated document, very difficult to counterfeit. The document is renewable every 10 or 15 years depending on the member state. Several member states have the option to include a microchip containing information about the card holder on the card.

Some categories like C and D are issued for five years only. After expiration, a medical check-up is necessary in order to renew the licence for another five years.

EEA relevance
The EEA (blue and green)

The provisions of Directive 2006/126/EC mention that it has European Economic Area (EEA) relevance, meaning that its provisions apply to all 28 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, through incorporation into the agreement on the EEA.[9]

The Directive was incorporated into the EEA agreement through Decision of the EEA Joint committee No 29/2008 of 14 March 2008 amending Annex XIII (Transport) to the EEA Agreement.[10] The Decision made some adaptions to the directive, notably: the distinguishing sign issuing the licence is encircled by an ellipse instead of being printed on the European flag, the words "driving licence" in Icelandic and Norwegian languages were added, and the words “European Communities model” were replaced by “EEA model”.[10]

Although Switzerland is a member state of EFTA, it is not a contracting party of EEA Agreement. Switzerland is instead linked to the EU by a series of bilateral agreements and has generally adopted much of the harmonised EU legislation with regard to driving licences. Switzerland has used the EU system of vehicle categories since the 2000s, and Swiss driving licences are EEA-style credit-card licences.

Implementation

The directive stipulated that all 31 EEA members states must have adopted laws implementing the directive no later than 19 January 2011. Those laws took effect in all EEA members states on 19 January 2013. All licences issued before that date will become invalid by 2033.

Brexit

Directive 2006/126/EC applied to the United Kingdom until the transition period after the UK withdrew from the EU terminated on 31 December 2020, as EU law continued to apply to the UK during this period.[11]

From 1 January 2021, European licences are recognized by the UK if the driving test was passed in an EU/EEA country, and can be used both if the holder is visiting or if residing in the UK. They can also be exchanged for a UK driving licence.[12][13]

UK driving licences can use used when visiting EU/EEA countries with some exceptions.[14][15][16] International Driving Permits might be needed in some cases. Depending on which convention the country in question has ratified, a 1949 IDP (Geneva Convention on Road Traffic) might be required in some EEA countries, and a 1968 IDP (Vienna Convention on Road Traffic) in others. However, none of the EEA countries currently require IDPs for visitors staying shorter than 12 months.[17]

Standard data field labelling


To help users of different languages to understand what each of the data fields on the licence contains, they are labelled with a number. A legend is supplied on the reverse of the card in the issuing authority's language.[18]

  1. surname
  2. other names[a]
  3. date of birth, place of birth[d]
  4. a) date of issue, b) date of expiry, c) issuing authority, d) different number from the one under heading 5, for administrative purposes[b]
  5. licence number
  6. photograph of holder
  7. signature of holder
  8. Address[c]
  9. licence categories
  10. first issuing date of the category
  11. expiry date of the category
  12. restrictions (number coded)
  13. space reserved for the possible entry by the host Member State of information essential for administering the licence
  14. space reserved for the possible entry by the Member State which issues the licence of information essential for administering the licence or related to road safety (optional).

Notes

aSuch as given names, local variations may occur.
b4(d) is optional. In some countries the personal number is listed.
cThe address is optional and not implemented by all countries
dNorway[19] and Sweden:[20] a hyphen (-) is shown in lieu of place of birth.

Categories valid in all EEA member states


Categories of European driving licences (Note: Above graphic is outdated since 19 January 2013)

[1][21][22]

Class Description Age of acquisition Requires Includes Remarks
Mopeds
AM Two-wheel vehicles or three-wheel vehicles with a maximum design speed of not more than 45 kilometres per hour (28 mph) and with a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cubic centimetres (3.1 cu in). 16 years (15 years in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, 14 years in Estonia, Latvia, France, Italy, Poland, and Hungary). Until 19 January 2013 this class was a national class called "M" in Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, and Norway.
Motorcycles
A1 Motorcycles with a cylinder capacity not exceeding 125 cubic centimetres (7.6 cu in) and a power not exceeding 11 kilowatts (15 hp); and motor tricycles with a power not exceeding 15 kilowatts (20 hp). 16 years. (18 years in Denmark, Greece, Belgium, and the Netherlands). AM B licence holders in Czech Republic (only motorcycles with automatic transmission), Greece (with addition of Code 121, thus only Greek licenses), Italy (at least 21 years old), Latvia, Malta (after a training of 10 hours), Slovakia (after two years and only motorcycles with automatic transmission), Spain (after three years), Poland (after three years), Portugal (at least 25 years old or additional licence for mopeds), and Belgium (after two years) are allowed to drive motorcycles not exceeding 125 cubic centimetres (7.6 cu in) within the respective countries. In Austria (after five years, training of 6 hours), France (after two years, a training of 7 hours), Germany (after 5 years, training of 9x1,5 hours) and Luxembourg (after two years, training of 7 hours), a practical training without exam is needed for B licence holders.
A2 Motorcycles of a power not exceeding 35 kilowatts (47 hp) and with a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.2 kilowatts per kilogram (0.12 hp/lb) and not derived from a vehicle of more than double its power. 18 years. (20 years in Denmark, Greece, and the Netherlands). A1, AM Replaced class "A" on 19 January 2013 in Malta.[23]
A Any motorcycle or motor tricycle not in category A1/A2 20 years. (22 years in Denmark, Greece, and the Netherlands). However, access to the driving of motorcycles of this category shall be subject to a minimum of two years' experience on motorcycles under an A2 licence. This requirement as to previous experience may be waived if the candidate is at least 24 years old. A2, A1, AM B licence holders who are at least 21 years of age are allowed to drive motor tricycles (including three-wheeled motorcycles with a power exceeding 15 kilowatts (20 hp) in the following countries: France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Spain and Poland (after three years of B licence). In France, a practical training (at least 7 hours) without an exam is needed for B licence holders who want to drive motor tricycles only, and this option is available only after at least two years of B licence. In the Netherlands it's allowed to drive from the age of at least 18, and if you had your driving licence B before 19 January 2013.[24] Replaced class "A+" on 19 January 2013 in Malta.[25]
Motor vehicles
B Motor vehicles with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) not exceeding 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb) and designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver; motor vehicles in this category may be combined with a trailer having a maximum authorised mass which does not exceed 750 kilograms (1,650 lb). You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer isn't more than 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb).

The limit in the first condition is: 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb) + 750 kilograms (1,650 lb)= 4,250 kilograms (9,370 lb).

The limit for in the second condition is: 2,500 kilograms (5,500 lb) + 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb)= 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb).

18 years (17 years in Ireland and Hungary) [26] Iceland, Germany, and Netherlands (under supervision, from age of 18 without supervision). 17 in Austria after 3000 km of driving under supervision. AM (some countries). In some countries, holders of a B driver licence are also entitled (sometimes with special conditions) to ride motorcycles <= 125 centimetres (49 in) and power <= 11 kilowatts (15 hp) and ratio power/weight <= 0.1 kilowatts per kilogram (0.061 hp/lb)
BE Without prejudice to the provisions of type-approval rules for the vehicles concerned, a combination of vehicles consisting of a tractor vehicle in category B and any number of trailers or semi-trailer wheres the maximum authorised mass of the trailer(s) or semi-trailer(s) do not exceed 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb). 18 years (17 years in Ireland). B
B1 Heavy quadricycles 16 years AM This class is optional, i.e. it is not implemented by all countries.
Large goods vehicle
C1 Large goods vehicle with a maximum authorised mass of not more than 7.5 tonnes (7.4 long tons; 8.3 short tons); with or without a trailer with a maximum mass of less than 750 kilograms (1,650 lb). 18 years B
C1E Combinations of vehicles where the tractor vehicle is in category C1 and its trailer(s) or semi-trailer(s) have a maximum authorised mass of over 750 kilograms (1,650 lb), and the combined mass of the tractor vehicle and trailer(s) do not exceed 12,000 kilograms (26,000 lb). 18 years C1 BE
C Large goods vehicle with a maximum authorised mass of more than 3.5 tonnes (3.4 long tons; 3.9 short tons) mass and not more than 8 + 1 seats (lorry); with a trailer with a maximum mass of 750 kilograms (1,650 lb). 21 years[citation needed] (18 years in Sweden, Finland and Ireland; 18 years in Germany for non-commercial use only except for apprenticeship as professional driver; 18 years in Belgium for professional drivers) B for 1 year, not including restricted licence[citation needed] C1
CE Other combinations of vehicles and trailers which with combined maximum authorised mass of more than 750 kilograms (1,650 lb). 21 years (18 years in Belgium for professional drivers) C BE, C1E
Buses
D1 Light buses with a maximum of 16 + 1 seats, maximum length of 8 metres (26 ft). 21 years[citation needed] (18 years in Belgium for professional drivers) B Motor vehicles designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than 16 passengers in addition to the driver.; motor vehicles in this category may be combined with a trailer having a maximum authorised mass not exceeding 750 kilograms (1,650 lb).
D1E Combinations of vehicles where the tractor vehicle is in category D1 and its trailer(s) or semi-trailer(s) have a maximum authorised mass of over 750 kilograms (1,650 lb), and the combined mass of the tractor vehicle and trailer(s) do not exceed 12,000 kilograms (26,000 lb). 21 years (18 years in Belgium for professional drivers) D1
D Vehicles with more than 8 + 1 seats (buses). 24 years (21 years in Ireland; 21 years in Belgium for professional drivers) B (C for 2 years in Bulgaria) D1 Motor vehicles designed and constructed for the carriage of more than eight passengers in addition to the driver; motor vehicles which may be driven with a category D licence may be combined with a trailer having a maximum authorised mass which does not exceed 750 kilograms (1,650 lb). Includes articulated buses (at least in Germany).[27]
DE Combinations of vehicles where the tractor vehicle is in category D and its trailer has a maximum authorised mass of over 750 kilograms (1,650 lb). 24 years (21 years in Ireland; 21 years in Belgium for professional drivers) D D1E

National categories in EEA member states


There are other national categories for tractors, large motorcycles, motorised wheel boats, motor tricycles (modern voiturettes, Category B1 or S), and military categories such as for driving tanks. National categories mean they are not harmonised and only valid within the issuing country. The table below gives general descriptions that do not include full details of regulations.

Class Description Age of acquisition Issued by Valid in Remarks
Mopeds
LK Small moped Denmark Denmark
Snowmobiles
S Snowmobile 16 Norway Norway

Sweden[28]

Motor vehicles
BF17 Begleitetes Fahren (accompanied driving) 17 years Germany Austria[29]

Germany

BF17 licensed driver must be accompanied by B-licence holder age 30+
Buses
TR Trolleybus 20 Hungary Hungary
TROL Trolleybus Latvia Latvia
Tтб Trolleybus 24 Bulgaria Bulgaria Tтб was phased out and incorporated into the D category in 2013. Trolleybus drivers are now required to possess a D category driving licence and to complete additional training on a trolleybus. Entitlement to drive a trolleybus is specified on the driving licence by a code 103.
Trams
H Tram 21 Croatia Croatia
TRAM Tram Latvia Latvia
Tтм Tram 24 Bulgaria Bulgaria
V Tram 20 Hungary Hungary
Tractors
F Tractor 16 years Austria Austria
Croatia Croatia with or without trailer.
Included in class B
Slovenia Slovenia
T Tractor 17 years Czech Republic Czech Republic
16 years Germany Germany
Hungary Hungary maximum 2 trailers
Norway Norway Included in class BE
Poland Poland Included in class BE
15 years Finland Finland Included in class A1, A2 and A
TM Tractor 16 years Denmark Denmark
Tкт Tractor 16 years Bulgaria Bulgaria
K Two-wheel tractor 16 years Hungary Hungary
L Tractor not exceeding 40 km/h by design 16 years Germany Germany with trailer: max. 25 km/h
Heavy equipment
G Agricultural vehicles 16 Belgium Belgium Included in B, B+E, C1, C1+E, C or C+E (only for agricultural vehicles with the same maximum authorised mass as the vehicles you have a licence for)
G Heavy equipment 16 Croatia Croatia Included in class B
W Work Vehicle 16 Ireland Ireland Includes land tractors with or without a trailer

Gallery


CountryCodeDriving licence in accordance with

Directive 80/1263/EEC or 91/439/EEC

Driving licence in accordance with Directive 2006/126/EC

(In force since 19 January 2013)

AustriaA
BelgiumB

BulgariaBGLink to image
CroatiaHR

CyprusCYLink to image
Czech RepublicCZLink to image
DenmarkDK

Link to image
EstoniaESTLink to image
FinlandFIN

[30]

FranceF
GermanyD

GreeceGR
HungaryHLink to image
IcelandISLink to image
IrelandIRLLink to image
ItalyI

LatviaLVLink to image
LiechtensteinFL
LithuaniaLTLink to image
LuxembourgL
MaltaMLink to image
NetherlandsNLLink to image
NorwayN
Link to image
PolandPL

PortugalPLink to image
RomaniaRO

SlovakiaSKLink to image
SloveniaSLOLink to image
SpainELink to image
Link to image
SwedenSLink to image

See also


Notes


  1. The legal acquis is marked as EEA-relevant by the EU, and is incorporated into the EEA Agreement (by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

References


  1. "Driving licence recognition and validity". Europa.eu. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  2. Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 7/94 of 21 March 1994 amending Protocol 47 and certain Annexes to the EEA Agreement, 28 June 1994, retrieved 15 March 2021
  3. European Commission website – Transport: driving licence Archived 7 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Consolidated version of Directive 91/439/EEC as of 18 July 2008". europa.eu.
  5. "Klartecken för EU-körkort". Svenska Dagbladet. Archived from the original on 11 October 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2006.
  6. "EU backs European driving licence". BBC News. 27 March 2006. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  7. "EU announces plans for European driving license". Workpermit.com. 18 December 2006.
  8. "DIRECTIVE 2006/126/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL". Official Journal of the European Union.
  9. "303795 | European Free Trade Association". www.efta.int. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  10. https://www.efta.int/media/documents/legal-texts/eea/other-legal-documents/adopted-joint-committee-decisions/2008%20-%20English/029-2008.pdf
  11. Asa Bennett (27 January 2020). "How will the Brexit transition period work?". Telegraph.
  12. "You can drive any type of vehicle listed on your full and valid licence - Driving in Great Britain on a non-GB licence - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  13. "Exchanging your foreign driving licence". nidirect. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  14. "Driving in the EU from 1 January 2021: UK licence holders living in the EU". GOV.UK. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  15. "Brexit: What are the rules on driving in the EU after transition?". BBC News. 27 December 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  16. "Visit Europe from 1 January 2021". GOV.UK. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  17. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47459859
  18. Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on driving licences
  19. "Nytt norsk førerkort : fra 19. januar 2013" (PDF). Vegvesen.no. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  20. "Föreskrifter om ändring i Transportstyrelsens föreskrifter (TSFS 2012:60) om körkortets utformning och innehåll" (PDF). Transportstyrelsen.se. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  21. "DIRECTIVE 2006/126/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL" (PDF). Official Journal of the European Union.
  22. [permanent dead link]
  23. "Press Release: Changes to the Minimum Ages and Test Requirements to obtain a Driving Licence". Transport Malta.
  24. "Wanneer mag ik op een trike rijden?".
  25. "Press Release: Changes to the Minimum Ages and Test Requirements to obtain a Driving Licence". Transport Malta.
  26. "Kørekort til 17-årige (Ledsagerordningen)". Sikkertrafik.dk.
  27. "INF30 – Requirements for towing trailers in Great Britain – GOV.UK" (PDF). Web.archive.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2013.
  28. "Hva kan du kjøre med førerkort klasse S?". Statens vegvesen (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  29. "Ist Begleitetes Fahren mit 17 im Ausland erlaubt?". Focus.de.
  30. "Changes to driving licence design".