All new European driving licences will be issued according to a new format, a plastic "credit card", with a photo and standard information requirements - easy to recognise and read across the EU. All new licences will be issued in this format from January 19th 2013.
Existing licences are not affected, but will be changed to the new format at the time of renewal or at the latest by 2033. The European driving licence can be adapted to incorporate national symbols as decided by each Member State.
The new driving licence includes a number of security features to make it "tamper proof" and to avoid falsification.
In addition, it is backed up by the creation of a European electronic data exchange system to facilitate the exchange of information between national administrations. This will simplify the process for managing driving licences for people changing residence from one Member State to another. It will also significantly help to prohibit "driving licence tourism" and fraud, for example, to enforce the new, more stringent prohibition, of a Member State issuing a licence to someone who has already had their licence withdrawn, suspended or restricted by another Member State.
Central to tackling fraud and improving road safety is the need for a regular renewal of licences across the EU. Under the new rules, licences must be renewed, for car drivers and motorcyclists, every 10-15 years, depending on the Member State. For buses and lorry drivers licenses must be renewed every five years and a medical check-up will be necessary for renewal.
The European driving licence regime strengthens protection for the most vulnerable categories of road users. This includes:
- A higher age limit for direct access (via practical and theory testing) to licences for the most powerful motorbikes, up from the existing 21 to 24 years.
- Raising the age limit, as well as introducing extra steps along the way for progressive access. The new regime requires driving experience of a minimum of four years (instead of two) with less powerful motorcycles before a licence is issued to drive the most powerful ones.
- Mopeds constitute a new vehicle category and moped licence candidates will from now on be required to pass a theory test. Member States may also introduce skill and behaviour tests and medical examinations. The EU sets a minimum recommended age of 16 years at which licences are mutually recognised by all Members States (Member States may go to 14 in their own country). Prior to this there were no minimum EU requirements for mopeds.
Driving examiners will have to comply with minimum standards as regards their initial qualification and periodic training. This measure will provide quality control in the new system.
Directive 2006/126/EC on driving licences was adopted by Member States and the European Parliament in 2006. It had to be transposed by Member States by 19 January 2011 and it becomes fully applicable on 19 January 2013.4
At the end of September, the stock of licensed motor vehicles in Malta stood at 314,867, up by 0.2% over the previous quarter, compared to a population of around 425,000.
More information may be found on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE9ZG--lEYE