New National Driving Licence Service Centres will take over the processing of driving licences from motor tax offices from Tuesday.

Under the new system, both first-time applicants and those renewing licences will have to attend in person.

However, the RSA said once a person comes to a centre once, they should not have to attend again.

Photographs of applicants will now be taken at these centres and signatures will be digitally captured, which is aimed at eliminating illegal drivers and fraudulent licences.

The fact there are 34 centres, fewer than the number of motor tax offices, has come in for some criticism.

However, RSA Communications Officer Brian Farrell says each county has at least one centre and that 95% of the population will be within 50km of one of the centres.

They will be open Monday-to-Friday, 9am-5pm including lunchtime, and Saturdays 9am-2pm.

Applicants can attend any centre in the country and licences can be renewed up to three months in advance.

The Irish Pharmacy Union says the new centres could have a devastating impact on its members.

It says they have invested considerable sums of money in photographic equipment.

Tadhg Foley of Photo Professionals Ireland says up to 500 jobs in the industry could be under threat because the new system no longer requires people to bring photos with them.