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The Community driving licence

1. The Community model driving licence

Since the entry into force of Directive 91/439/EEC on 1 July 1996, the "Community model" driving licence established by Directive 80/1263/EEC has been adapted to take account of the harmonisation of categories and sub-categories and to facilitate the comprehension of licences within and outside the Community. Member States have to use this Community model as a basis for the national driving licence.
Annex I of Directive 91/439/EEC lists the information which has to be included in the Community model licence, such as the name of the competent authority which issues the licence, categories of vehicle, period of validity, etc.
It is also sets out the conditions under which drivers are entitled to drive.

2. Format

The periods of validity of driving licences have not yet been harmonised by Community legislation, but Directive 91/439/EEC establishes the principle of mutual recognition of licences. This means that a very large number of different driving licences (more than 80 models) that are still valid, are circulating in the countries of the European Union and of the European Economic Area. The majority do not respect the Community model. This number is, of course, expected to decrease over the years, since all driving licences issued since 1 January 1983 are in conformity with the Community model.

There are two kinds of Community model driving licences; the "paper" model and the "plastic card" model.

With regard to the "paper" model, directive 80/1263/EEC harmonised the format of driving licences in order to facilitate their control by national authorities.
Adaptations have subsequently been made by Directive 91/439/EEC.
Those licences comprise six parts and are pink in colour. These provisions, for practical reasons, concern only licences issued after the entry into force of the Community legislation.

With regard to the "plastic card" model, Directive 96/47/EEC of 23 July 1996 (OJ N° L 235, 17 September 1996, p 1) amends Directive 91/439/EEC to enable Member States to issue licences in a format similar to that of credit cards.


last update: 03-02-2009