The Road Safety Authority has said that new plastic, credit card-sized driving licences released today will be easier to carry and more secure.

New and renewed licences will cost €55.

The RSA said its National Driving Licence Service started producing driving licences and learner permits in the new format last Saturday.

The move is part of a European Union directive to upgrade and standardise licences across the union.

All paper driving licences remain valid until their expiry date.

The new plastic licence, which contains a microchip, will be issued to those who apply for a new or renewed one.

Applications are still handled by motor taxation offices, but the RSA said this will be transferred to the National Driving Licence Service by September.

However, motor taxation offices will no longer issue driving licences over the counter.