Reader question: I converted my UK driving licence to a French one, which has the same expiry date as my UK one – when I reach 70. Why is this number shown on the back of my driving licence, is it normal for licences to be changed when you reach 70 in France?
The number 70 on the back of your licence does not have anything to do with your age or the expiry date of the licence – this is just a coincidence.
The back of a French driving licence has a space on the right-hand side for additional information relating to the driver.
This can include information about the driver’s medical state (for example, if they must wear glasses or hearing aids when driving) or if their licence limits them to only driving automatic vehicles.
The number 70 simply means that your French driving licence has been issued after being exchanged for a licence from another country.
You can find a full list of the numerical codes for licences and their meaning here.
The British government’s website does state, however, that a UK paper licence issued before January 2021 is only valid until the driver is 70 years old, at which point it must be exchanged for a plastic one.
When do I need to renew my driving licence in France?
UK driving licences are valid until the driver is 70 years old – at which point, if you live in the UK, it must be renewed every three years and a medical examination may be required.
More recent UK (photocard) licences, moreover, are only issued for a total validity period of 10 years.
If you move to France, it is important therefore to apply to exchange a British licence for a French one before it expires, whether at age 70 or otherwise, as you cannot renew a UK licence as a resident of France.
In France, you do not need to retake a test to keep your licence, but if you have certain medical conditions you may need to undergo a medical examination before receiving your licence.
The debate over whether medical tests should be introduced for drivers who are merely elderly has recently reignited after a serious accident involving a dozen people in northern France.
Driving licences in France do occasionally need to be updated even if there is no specific age at which it must be done.
The more modern credit-card style plastic licences must be renewed after 15 years, and the older pink cardboard licences must be renewed and exchanged for a plastic one before January 19, 2033.
There are no checks on the driver as part of the renewal, it is just a question of updating the photo and (if necessary) the home address.
Licence renewals are are made online via the website of the Agence nationale des titres sécurisés (ANTS).