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You are here: FIA Region I News Introduction of 3rd EU Driving Licence Directive welcomed by FIA


Introduction of 3rd EU Driving Licence Directive welcomed by FIA

Press Release
Brussels, 18 January 2013

The introduction of the 3rd EU Driving Licence tomorrow (19 January 2013) will be an important step towards making cross-border travel easier, our roads safer, and counterfeiting of licences more difficult, says FIA Region I Director General, Mr Jacob Bangsgaard.

The new directive comes into effect after many years of negotiation with new credit-card style driving licences set to replace the 100 or more paper and plastic models in use across the EU by more than 300 million drivers (see Notes to the Editor for renewal dates).

Mr Bangsgaard said, “The new licence will not only make it easier to drive cross-border, it will also help to tackle the problem of drivers banned in one member state trying to get a licence in another country.”

The new rules pay particular attention to motorcycle users with the introduction of new vehicle categories, including the creation of a separate category for mopeds, and a system based on progressive access to more powerful bikes based on experience. With the FIA representing more than 8 million motorcycle users in Europe, Mr Bangsgaard commented, “The new categories for motorcycles with standardised minimum ages and progressive access to new categories will help protect some of the most vulnerable users of the road today.”

While welcoming the implementation of the new directive, Mr Bangsgaard said that focus should now turn towards raising the standard of training EU-wide, an area where he says FIA Clubs can play an important role: “The European Commission should now turn its attention to improving the quality of training provided to road users EU-wide, with a special focus on young novice drivers. Our Clubs, many of which have particular expertise in training gained over many years, can play a key role in supporting any such initiative”.

Notes to Editor:

Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Region I office

FIA Region I represents 106 Touring and Motoring Clubs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from its Brussels office, which total more than 36 million members. The FIA represents the interest of these members as motorists, public transport users, pedestrians and tourists.

The FIA’s primary goal is to secure a mobility that is safe, affordable, sustainable and efficient. With these aims in mind the work focuses on Road Safety, Consumer Protection, Environmental Protection, and the promotion of Sustainable Motoring.

For more information, please contact Niall Carty, Communications Manager, FIA Region I: or 02 282 0812

Ten Questions and Answers on the 3rd EU Driving Licence Directive

1. I obtained my drivers’ licence before 2013. When should I renew it?
If your country already has a renewal scheme in place, you will automatically get an EU driver’s licence when it is next renewed. Member States in which no renewal has been mandatory so far, will have to exchange licences obtained before 2013, at the latest by 2033.
2. What does this mean in practice?
One of the following two situations can occur:

• the driving licence expires in 26 years or later: in this case the document has to be replaced within 26 years at the latest ;
• the document expires before this period and will simply be replaced by the new model at the time of expiry.
3. Can I still use my B category licence to drive my caravan abroad next summer?
The Directive foresees two possibilities:
• For motor vehicles of a maximum weight of 3,500 kg, combined with a trailer of maximum 750 kg, the current B category licence will suffice.
• For motor vehicles of a maximum weight of 4,250 kg, combined with a trailer of maximum 750 kg, an additional test or training should be organised by Member States. The training should last a minimum of 7 hours.
4. Will my licence automatically be recognised abroad?
The directive provides for automatic mutual recognition of licences within the EU 27. However, non-EU states are not bound by the directive. Please check before travelling.
5. Do I still need an International Driving Permit (IDP) when I travel?
International recognition of driving licences is governed by the Vienna Convention. You will still need an IDP to drive outside the EU. Moreover, some difficulties arise with licence types AM and A2, which are currently not listed under the IDP categories.
6. Will plastic licence cards be mandatory?
The only licence to be issued at European level will be the plastic credit card type from 2013. Member States are allowed to insert a microchip in the licence (which will include the written information already available).
7. Will the renewal of the new licences be mandatory? And for what period?
The directive introduces a compulsory administrative renewal of all new licences. All new licences for moped, motorcycles, and cars shall have a maximum validity of 10 years or 15 years (at Member States’ discretion). 
8. What medical examinations will be necessary?
The directive requires medical checks to be carried out by Member States on bus and lorry drivers. Licences have to be renewed every five years but the intervals between the examinations are left to Member States to decide. For cars and motorcycles riders, Member States are free to carry out medical examinations at the time of the renewal of the licence. Most Member States which currently have no medical check for drivers have transposed the directive without introducing such examinations.
9. What are the changes for motorcycles categories?
The directive introduces new licence categories (AM, A1 for powered-two wheelers and progressive access to most high-powered vehicles.
• Given the high level of powered-two wheelers involved in accidents, a new licence category AM will be introduced at the European Level for mopeds. It should be obtained after passing a mandatory theory test. Member States may additionally require the passing of a practical test.
• All Member States will have to introduce the A1 category for light motorcycles. The introduction of the power-weight ratio aims at limiting the speed of these vehicles. A1 licences can be obtained from 16 years onwards (alternatively from 17 or 18).
• Category A2 licences will give the possibility to drive motorcycles, with or without a sidecar of a power not exceeding 35 kW and of power-weight ratio not exceeding 0.2 kW/kg.
• Category A encompasses all motorcycles with or without a side car. It is accessible directly from 24 years old. For progressive access, i.e. drivers that hold an A2 licence for 2 years, the minimum age is 20 years.
10. Will there be new rules for driving examiners?
There are no set standards on the training and education of driving examiners, which vary widely throughout the EU. In some Member States examiners have almost no specific education or do not even hold the driving licence for the category they were examining. This will no longer be possible. Basic conditions have been set for entering the profession of driving examiners and introduce minimum standards for their initial qualification as well as regular refresher courses.

Review of access to different licence categories, excluding professional transport


Type of vehicle



Conditions to access




Two– or three wheel vehicles with maximum speed 45km/h


16 years

Theory test


practical test

Member States can make it accessible from 14 years on their territory only.

Member States can raise access age to 18.


Motorcycles <125 cc & < 11 kW power/weight ratio < 0,1 kW/ kg

Motor tricycles < 15 kW/h



16 years

Theory & practical test

Up to 17 or 18 years allowed

Motorcycles < 35 kW & power/weight ratio < 0,2 kW/ kg


18 years

Theory & practical test

Holders of A1 for 2 years: only passing test or complete training

2 years minimum between A1 & A2

If minimum age for A1 is fixed to 17 or 18 years by a Member State, then minimum age for A2 becomes 19 or 20


Motorcycles & motor tricycles with a power exceeding 15 kW


20 years for progressive access (with passing a test or complete a training after 2 years of A2 licence)

24 years for direct access (with theory & practical test)



Quadricycles (optional)


16 years

Theory & practical test



Motor vehicles with a maximum authorised mass of 3,500kg that may be combined with a trailer of less than 750 kg



18 years

Theory & practical test


Motor vehicles with a maximum authorised mass of 4,250kg that may be combined with a trailer of more than 750 kg



+ training

or test of skills

18 years and B licence

Duration of training:

min 7 hours with

 practical component

Combination tractor with trailer not exceeding 3,500 kg



18 years


Motor vehicles of more than 3,500 kg but less than 7,500 kg /Max 8 persons + driver


C1 & C1E

18 years

Theory & practical test


Motor vehicles of more than 3,500 kg combined with a trailer of max 750 kg. Max 8 persons + driver



21 years

Theory & practical test



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