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France late for licence changes

France has put off new credit card-style licences as reform to EU driving rules gets under way

A NEW credit card-style European driving licence came in across Europe from the weekend – apart from in France where it has been put off until September.

Changes to licence categories and some changes to requirements for passing driving tests for certain road users came into force – and a national driving instructors’ union has called for strikes this week, saying the government has not helped them prepare sufficiently.

The introduction of the new licences, which contain a chip, has been put off until September 16 due to computer problems.

These licences will be the same in all EU states and will need to be renewed every 15 years to update the photograph.

Information on the chip is intended to help police make sure the licence is authentic and up-to-date and will provide some details on the holder – categories held, whether the person uses glasses for driving etc.

At first the only people to receive the new-style licence will be new drivers and people who have had their licences stolen.

People needing one before September 16 will be given a “transitional” paper document similar to the current licences but showing the new categories. They will be replaced next year by new credit card licences.

Holders of old licences will, however, not need to change them until 2033. People who drive on UK licences will also be able to continue using them as the UK is also not requiring existing holders to change.

The changes do not concern people who drive ordinary cars for typical purposes, though there are minor changes with regard to those who tow caravans (who may be able to tow heavier loads after a short course) and there are some changes to rules concerning HGV drivers, drivers of low-powered micro-cars, and some riders of two-wheelers (eg. concerning age and experience needed for riding larger bikes).

Photo: Agence Nationale des Titres Sécurisés

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