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Updated : 12/04/2017

Driving licence recognition and validity

EU driving licences

If your driving licence is issued by an EU country, it's recognised throughout the EU and you can use it as long as:

  • it is valid
  • you are old enough to drive a vehicle of the equivalent category
  • it is not suspended or restricted and has not been revoked in the issuing country.

If you want, you can exchange it for a driving licence from the EU country you have moved to. But you don't have to do this (except in a few cases).

Standard format

From 19 January 2013, all new driving licences issued in the EU have a standard format – a plastic, credit card-sized photocard, with better security features.

You can still use your existing licence, but will be changed to the new format when you renew it (or at the latest by 2033).

Do you have a driving licence for life? If so, your home country will tell you when to exchange it for a new one.

Find out more about the single EU driving licence.

There are over 110 European types of driving licence valid in the EU.

Find more about your licence type, including what it looks like, its security features, and the entitlements and vehicle categories listed on it.

Mutual recognition

Whether you have the new format or an older licence, all EU driving licences are recognised throughout the EU.

The categories AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE, B1, C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D and DE are also recognised in other EU countries.

So if you move to another EU country, you usually won't have to exchange your licence.

You can drive in your new country on your current licence as long as it is still valid.

Validity in EU countries

10 years 15 years
Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Poland, Slovakia

When your driving licence expires, you must renew it in the country where you have your normal residence.

Your new licence may have a different validity period and will be subject to any restrictions/conditions that apply in your new country.

Provisional driving licences

Provisional or temporary licences, international driving permits (or any other certificates issued in your home country) may not be recognised in other EU countries.

Because these documents are only issued in some countries, they don't come under the new EU rules.

Recognition of EU driving licences issued in exchange for a non‑EU licence

If you have an EU driving licence that was issued in exchange for a non‑EU licence, and you wish to move to another EU country with your converted licence, do not assume your new licence will be recognised there. This is up to each EU country.

You need to check with the local authorities in your new country what the conditions are for recognising non-EU licences.

The EU driving licence you were issued with when handing over your non-EU licence licence should contain a code indicating the country that originally issued it (e.g. 70.0123456789.NL).

See the current rules and information and/or visit the website of the authorities in your new home country:

Choose country

* Information not yet provided by national authorities

The European Commission is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Sample story

Angeles is a Chilean who moved to Spain a few years ago. As Spain recognises Chilean driving licences, Angeles was able to exchange hers for a Spanish one after meeting a few administrative formalities.

With this new licence, Angeles can drive around the EU. However, if she ever moves from Spain to another EU country, she will have to check that the authorities there recognise her Spanish licence.

If the new country recognises the original Chilean licence automatically, she will be able to continue driving with her converted Spanish licence. If not, she may have to have her Chilean licence formally recognised or exchanged in the new country.

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