New credit-card style driving licence revealed

Thursday 01 March 2012 14.54
The plastic credit-card style licence is to be introduced for all new licences issued from next January
The plastic credit-card style licence is to be introduced for all new licences issued from next January

The design for the new Irish driving licence has been revealed.

The plastic credit-card style licence, which will replace the familiar paper one, is to be introduced for all new licences issued from next January.

The design will be the same as the one used for driving licences in Finland, and is the same pink tone as the existing full Irish licence.

It will feature the driver's name and date of birth, their photo, signature and any restrictions or endorsements such as the need to wear glasses and any penalty points accrued.

European law requires all member states to introduce a plastic card model by next January, and the Irish one will come into force on 19 January 2013.

The European legislation includes an option to feature the driver's address on the licence but the Department of Transport opted not to do this for security and logistical reasons.

Later versions of the card are likely to include a micro-chip which could be used to store other information.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said consideration was given to incorporating the new Public Services Card into the new driving licence but the European legislation did not allow for that.

Mr Varadkar also said he was holding talks with airlines about their accepting the new style licence as valid identification for air travel.

Currently, Ryanair does not accept Irish driving licences as identification and Aer Lingus only accepts them for flights within Ireland or to the UK.

Once this new form of licence is introduced, the old paper style will no longer be issued, but they will be still valid. However, any driver can trade in their old model for the new one before their renewal date for a fee which has yet to be decided.

The new licences will be issued centrally by the Road Safety Authority rather than by individual motor taxation offices as is currently the case.

However, people will still be able to purchase the licence in person at motor tax offices and perhaps even at post offices.

The Minister said this would mean only about 60 people would be required to issue the new licences rather than the 200 currently needed for the paper ones.

He said this would allow those extra staff to be redeployed to other frontline service areas.

A tender process is currently under way to find a company to develop and operate a Plastic Card Delivery Unit which will produce the polycarbonate driving licences and learner permits.