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Certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains

This directive is designed to harmonise train driver certification within the European Union (EU) whilst maintaining a high level of safety. It lays down the procedures for obtaining and withdrawing licences and certificates as well as specifying the tasks to be carried out by the competent authorities in the EU countries. These provisions facilitate the mobility of drivers and railway undertakings between EU countries.


Directive 2007/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the Community's rail network.


This directive helps to revitalise the rail sector by establishing a certification system for locomotive and train drivers on the European Union (EU) rail network.

It is mainly aimed at drivers. EU countries may exclude the following from the measures they adopt in implementation of the directive:

  • metros, trams and other light rail systems;
  • networks that are functionally separate from the rest of the rail system and are intended only for the operation of local and urban services, etc.;
  • privately owned railway infrastructure.

Certification of drivers

All train drivers must have the necessary fitness and qualifications to drive trains and hold the following documents:

  • a licence identifying the driver and the authority issuing the certificate and stating the duration of its validity. The licence will be the property of the driver and will be issued, on application, to drivers meeting the minimum requirements as regards medical and psychological fitness, basic education and general professional skills;
  • a harmonised complementary certificate as evidence that the holder has received additional training under the railway undertaking's safety management system. The certificate should state the specific requirements of the authorised service (rolling stock and infrastructure) for each driver and its validity will therefore be restricted.

The harmonised complementary certificate authorises the holder to drive in one or more of the following categories:

  • category A: shunting locomotives and work trains;
  • category B: carriage of passengers and/or goods.

Drivers holding the licence and the harmonised complementary certificate can drive trains provided that the railway undertaking or the infrastructure manager in charge of the transport operation in question holds a safety certificate.

Conditions and procedure for obtaining the licence and the certificate

With regard to the basic training and fitness required of drivers, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • they must be at least 20 years of age. However, EU countries may issue licences from the age of 18 years, the validity of such a licence then being limited to the territory of the issuing EU country;
  • they must have received basic training equivalent to level 3 (level of 9 years of education: primary and secondary) as referred to in Council Decision 85/368/EEC and satisfy the medical requirements laid down in Annex II of this directive;
  • they must provide evidence of their physical and mental fitness by passing a medical examination conducted by a medical doctor recognised by the competent authority;
  • they must demonstrate their psychological fitness by passing an examination conducted by a psychologist recognised by the competent authority;
  • they must provide evidence of their professional and, if applicable, linguistic abilities.

Professional abilities are proven by means of adequate training (in operational regulations, engineering, communications, acquiring driving skills, etc.) and passing the relevant examinations.

The competent authority will issue the licence not later than one month after receiving all the necessary documents. The licence will be in the official language(s) of the EU country issuing it and is valid for 10 years.

In order to keep the licence and the harmonised certificate, holders must agree to undergo periodic checks such as medical examinations and tests of their professional abilities.

When a driver ceases to be employed by a railway undertaking, the undertaking must inform the competent authority without delay. The harmonised complementary certificate will become invalid on cessation of employment. However the holder will receive a certified copy of it. If there is any change in a driver's state of health that could call into question his fitness for the job and give grounds for withdrawal of his licence or harmonised complementary certificate, the employer or the driver himself must inform the competent authority without delay.

Some tasks and decisions of the competent authority

The competent authority, i.e. the authority appointed by the EU country to issue the driver's licence after establishing that the applicant meets the necessary requirements, must carry out the following tasks, in a transparent and non-discriminatory fashion:

  • issue and update licences, provide replacements and suspend and withdraw licences if necessary;
  • ensure periodic examinations and checks;
  • ensure the publication and updating of a register of accredited or recognised persons and bodies, and update a register of licences which have been issued, expired, modified, suspended, cancelled or declared lost or destroyed;
  • supervise the process of certifying drivers and carry out the necessary checks on board trains travelling within the EU;

EU countries shall take the necessary steps to ensure judicial review of the decisions taken by a competent authority.

Railway undertakings are required to:

  • keep a register of all harmonised complementary certificates issued, expiring, modified, suspended, cancelled or declared lost or destroyed;
  • cooperate with the competent authority of the country where they are domiciled in order to interconnect their register with that of the competent authority so as to give it immediate access to the particulars required;
  • supply information on the status of such certificates to the competent authorities of the other EU countries.


EU countries will bring into force the necessary laws, regulations and administrative provisions by 4 December 2009.

At the latest on 29 October 2011, which corresponds to two years after the adoption (29 October 2009) of the basic parameters, registers will be drawn up.

At the latest on 29 October 2011, the certificates or licences to drivers performing cross-borders services, cabotage services or freight services in another EU country or working in at least two EU countries shall be issued in accordance with this directive.

At the latest on 29 October 2013, all new licences and certificates shall be issued.

At the latest on 29 October 2018, all drivers shall hold licences and certificates in conformity with this directive.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2007/59/EC



OJ L 315 of 3.12.2007


Commission Regulation (EU) No 36/2010 of 3 December 2009 on Community models for train driving licences, complementary certificates, certified copies of complementary certificates and application forms for train driving licences, under Directive 2007/59/EC of the European Parliament and the Council [Official Journal L 13 of 19.1.2010]
The annexes to this regulation set out the Community models for the train driving licences, complementary certificates, certified copies of complementary certificates, and application forms for the train driving licences as referred to in Directive 2007/59/EC.

Commission Decision 2010/17/EC of 29 October 2009 on the adoption of basic parameters for registers of train driving licences and complementary certificates provided for under Directive 2007/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (notified under document C(2009) 8278) [Official Journal L 8 of 13.1.2010]

Last updated: 07.06.2010
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