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European Commission to use Biometric Smart Card Licenses from 2013


Changes are being made in the issuance of driving licenses in European Commission (EC) member countries.

The EC is paving the way for the use of smart card licenses, which will store personal data, license holder’s photo, any endorsements and iris and fingerprint biometrics as agreed by the EC.

The use of the smart card will limit the number of different license models that are in circulation and enhance protection against fraud.

This move is supported by European legislation called Third European Driving License Directive which was agreed in December 2006 and will take effect from January 2013.

The directive requires member countries to adopt a common format license, to harmonize categories for vehicles and set common standards of competence and fitness to drive. It sets categories for vehicles, introduces minimum requirements for initial qualification, training of driving examiners and validity of driving license.

The UK Government has been non-committal about when to start using the smart card. But changes will be made with the removal of drivers’ addresses in the photo card starting 2013 and getting rid of paper counterpart of licenses from 2015. Whenever there are changes in the address, the driver need not return their license to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The UK still has to decide whether or when to add the chip in the driver’s license. Several events led to the government being silent on the matter. It has been criticized in its plan to use identity cards with fear around using cards with personal information stored in it.

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