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FAQs - Validity in EU countries

  • I am moving to Bulgaria. Will my Greek licence be recognised there?  

    Since your licence was issued by an EU country, it will be recognised throughout the EU. Provided it is still valid, you will not have to exchange it for a Bulgarian licence right away - however, it would need to be exchanged before 2033 when all driving licences in circulation need to be in the EU standard format. If your original licence was issued by a non-EU country and exchanged for a Greek one, Bulgaria does not have to recognise it.

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  • I have moved to France. Will the category "tractor" recorded on my UK driving licence be recognised there?

    The driving licence category for tractor is not subject to common rules at EU level and French authorities are free to recognise it or not. If they recognise it, the French authorities will record it on a new French licence.

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  • Can I drive in other EU countries with my category B licence although I obtained it when I was 17 years old?  

    If you are still 17, some countries may refuse to recognise your B licence (i.e. for cars). But if you are now 18 or over, other EU countries must recognise your B licence even if it was issued when you were only 17.

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  • My driving licence is not a new “ EU model licence”. Will it still be valid in other EU countries?

    YES — If your driving licence was issued in an EU country, it remains valid throughout the EU until it expires. EU countries must ensure that all driving licences in circulation are in the new EU standard format by 2033 at the latest.

    If you have a driving licence for life you will be informed by your EU country of residence when to exchange your driving licence.

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  • I am Brazilian. Is my international driving licence valid throughout the EU, or can I only use it in Portugal?  

    Your international driving licence is nothing more than a certified translation of your presumably Brazilian driving licence. You can use it in Portugal only because Portugal recognises your Brazilian licence. But if you move to another EU country that doesn't recognise your Brazilian licence, the international licence will be of no use. The rules on mutual recognition apply only to licences originally issued in the EU.

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  • I was stopped by the police in the Netherlands, where I am now resident, and told that I had to exchange my Danish driving licence for a local model. Is that legal?

    YES — but only if your licence is valid for longer than the period allowed by EU rules. In this case the Dutch authorities can make you exchange your licence for a Dutch one. Penalties for driving offences committed in the country of residence may also result in you having to exchange your driving licence.

    In other cases, you are not generally required to exchange a driving licence issued by another EU country, though you may choose to do so.

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  • I have moved from Belgium to Italy. The Italian authorities recognise my Belgian driving licence but want to shorten its validity and make renewal subject to periodical medical exams. Is that legal?  

    NO — The Italian authorities can apply the EU rules on validity but only after two years of normal residence.

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  • I have moved to another EU country. Can I still apply for a driving licence in my country of origin?  

    NO — You can only apply in your country of residence, i.e. normally the one where you live most of the year. The same applies if you want to get a new permit (after loss or theft), or to add a new category to it (in which case you will need to exchange your permit for a local one).

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  • I am Irish and have moved to study in the UK. Where should I apply for a driving licence?  

    Attending university or school in another EU country does not transfer your residence. Therefore, you would need to apply for a driving licence in Ireland.

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  • Is it possible to have two driving licences issued by two different EU countries at the same time?  

    NO — nobody is allowed to hold more than one driving licence – not even if your driving licence has been withdrawn, you cannot be issued a second driving licence by another EU country.

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  • I am renewing my driving licence in a different EU country to the one that issued it. Do I have to produce a translation?

    NO — The authorities have to recognise the driving licence without any formalities.

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  • I'm moving to another European country - will the new country recognise my current licence?

    That depends whether your original licence was issued by an EU country:

    • If your original licence was issued by an EU country

    YES — Your current licence will be recognised throughout the EU. But, the host country may require you to exchange it for a local one if your current driving licence does not mention a validity period of 10 or 15 years.

    • If your original licence was issued outside the EU and later exchanged for a local licence in one EU country, another EU country will NOT NECESSARILY recognise it.

    For example, if you exchanged your US driving licence for a French one while living in France, but are now moving to Sweden, Sweden may decide to recognise your French licence. If not, you will probably get a Swedish one only after retaking your driving test in Sweden.

    If this is your situation, please contact the authorities in the new country to find out whether your licence is recognised.

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  • I'm studying abroad in the EU and would like to get a driving licence. Where should I apply?

    You would need to get it in your country of origin, as attending university or school in another EU country does not transfer your residence.

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  • Are the categories in my licence valid in other European countries?  

    SOME ARE — The following categories are recognised in all EU countries AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE, B1, B1E, C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D and DE.

    SOME AREN'T — Some remain purely national.

    For example, the "tractor" category on UK licences won't necessarily be recognised in another EU country where you may be required to exchange your licence for a local one.

    In this case, it will be up to the national authority concerned whether to grant you the equivalent category on your new licence.

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  • I already have a driving licence issued in an EU country and want to get an additional category in the country I now live in. How should I proceed?  

    Apply to the authorities in the country where you are now resident. If/when you get the new category, your original licence will be exchanged for a new one.

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  • I live in Spain and recently received a driving ban there - on my Belgian licence. Can I still use my licence in Belgium?  

    NO — A driving ban issued by the country where you are resident applies in all countries.

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  • I recently received a driving ban while on holiday in Spain. I live in Belgium, where my licence was issued. Can I still use my licence there?  

    YES — A driving ban issued by a country you are visiting applies only to that country. When you leave, the authorities must return your licence to you.

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