Driving licence exchange and recognition in the EU
Driving licence exchange in the EU
You can have only one EU driving licence at any one time. If you move to another EU country, you don't usually have to exchange your driving licence for a local one. However, you can voluntarily exchange it for an equivalent one in your new country of residence if you wish.
Voluntary exchange of your driving licence in another EU country
If you want to voluntarily exchange your driving licence you must be a resident of that country and meet the conditions for having a driving licence (e.g. you have reached the minimum age, your state of health permits you to drive, etc.).
Before the authorities exchange your driving licence, they will contact the authorities in your previous country of residence to check that your driving licence has not been restricted, suspended or withdrawn. If you exchange an old-style licence, you will be issued with the new standard format (plastic, credit card-sized photo card available since 2013).
Obligatory exchange of your driving licence in another EU country
You have to exchange your driving licence if:
- Your licence is lost, stolen or damaged
- After 2 years of usual residence, if you have a driving licence with an indefinite validity period (only if this is required by the national authorities in the country where you live)
- You commit a traffic offence in the country where you live
When you exchange your original driving licence for a local one, you will be subject to that country's rules on driving licences (for example on validity periods and medical checks).
Monica lives in Cyprus and has an Italian driving licence which has been damaged. To get a new licence, she will have to exchange her Italian licence for a Cypriot one. She will receive a licence from Cyprus that is valid for 15 years, instead of 10 years as in Italy.
Also, find out what you have to do if your driving licence is lost or stolen while you are travelling abroad.
Driving licence recognition in the EU
Is your driving licence recognised across the EU if you own:
An old-style driving licence issued in the EU?
If you have an old-style EU licence, you can still use it in all EU countries. If you renew it you will be issued with the EU standard model of licence. Otherwise you must exchange it by 2033 at the latest.
A driving licence valid for life?
EU Driving licences that are valid for life are recognised in all EU countries. However, you must check with the national authorities when you have to exchange it for the new standard model
A provisional driving licence or temporary licence?
Provisional or temporary licences and international driving permits (or any other certificates issued in your home country) are not regulated at EU level and may not be recognised in other EU countries.
If you have a provisional driving licence and are moving to another EU country you should check the rules with the national driving licence authority in the country you're moving to.
A driving licence issued in a non EU country?
Some EU countries may recognise licences issued in a number of non-EU countries. 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, you should be aware that your new licence may not be recognised there.
Check the conditions for recognising non-EU licences with the local authorities in your new country.
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 fulfilling some administrative formalities.
Angeles is free to drive in the EU with this new licence. However, if she 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.
Find out more about your licence type, including what it looks like, its security features, and the entitlements and vehicle categories listed on it.
Check the rules on driving licence exchange and recognition in the country where you live:
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