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Road safety: Driving licences
This Directive recasts the existing legislation harmonising the conditions for issuing national driving licences. The aim is to improve mutual recognition of licences and so make it easier for people to move within the European Union (EU) or to settle in an EU country other than the one in which they have passed a driving test.
Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on driving licences.
The Directive also introduces substantive changes with the aim of:
- reducing the scope for fraud: the Directive replaces the paper driving licence with a model in the form of a plastic card. Existing paper licences do not need to be exchanged, but will no longer be issued once the new legislation applies. European Union (EU) countries which so wish may equip the new licence with a microchip incorporating the information printed on the card;
ensuring the free movement of citizens: driving licence holders will retain their acquired rights, but regular renewal of the document will limit the scope for fraud by allowing the protection features of all licences, and the holder’s photograph, to be updated. All licences will have a given period of validity and will be unconditionally valid in all EU countries.
All new category A (motorcycles) and category B (cars) licences issued after the Directive enters into force will in principle be valid for 10 years (EU countries may opt for an administrative validity of up to 15 years). All new category C (lorries) and category D (buses/coaches) licences are valid for 5 years;
- helping to improve road safety: the Directive introduces a new category of licence for mopeds and harmonises the frequency of medical checks for professional drivers. It also introduces minimum requirements for the initial qualification and the training of driving examiners.
The Directive also takes over the substance of the existing legislation: EU countries’ national driving licences must be based on the EU model. Licences issued by EU countries must be mutually recognised. Page 1 of the licence must contain the distinguishing sign of each country.
The driving licence may authorise the holder to drive vehicles in the following categories:
- category A – motorcycles weighing less than 750 kg;
- category B – vehicles weighing less than 3 500 kg or caravans weighing less than 4 250 kg;
- category B+E – combinations consisting of a category B vehicle and trailer;
- category C – vehicles weighing more than 3 500 kg;
- category C+E – combinations consisting of a category C vehicle and trailer;
- category D – vehicles having more than 8 seats;
- category D+E – combinations consisting of a category D vehicle and trailer.
Specific driving licences can be obtained for certain categories depending on the maximum cubic capacity and the maximum power in kW (kilowatts).
Driving licences must state the conditions subject to which the driver is authorised to drive. If, because of a physical disability, driving is authorised only for certain types of vehicle or for adapted vehicles, then this should be reflected through a specific code in the driving licence.
The issuing of driving licences is also subject to the following conditions: licences for categories C and D may be issued only to drivers already entitled to drive vehicles in category B, and licences for categories B+E, C+E and D+E may be issued only to drivers already entitled to drive vehicles in categories B, C and D respectively.
The minimum age for the issuing of driving licences is as follows: 16 years for categories A1 (light motorcycles) and B1 (motor-powered tricycles and quadricycles), 18 years for categories A, B, B+E, C and C+E and 21 years for categories D and D+E. EU countries may, however, raise or lower the minimum age, within given limits, for certain categories.
EU countries must ensure that applicants for driving licences possess the knowledge and skills and exhibit the behaviour required for driving a motor vehicle. In general, the tests introduced to this effect must consist of:
- a theory test;
- a test of skills and behaviour.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 403 of 30.12.2006