The photocard driving licence explained
All driving licences issued by Driver & Vehicle Agency are now issued in a new format (from 19 January 2013). Old format licences will still be valid and will be updated gradually as they are renewed and replaced.
The new licence is very similar to the previous licence that was issued since July 2011, but there are a number of key differences, these are:
- the introduction of new Moped and Motorcycle categories i.e. AM and A2
- a full category table on the back of the Photocard displaying all Entitlement types
- categories the holder cannot drive will be scored through making it clear which are valid for driving and which are not
- the ‘field descriptors’ have been changed from the bottom left hand corner of the back of the photocard, they now appear on the right hand side
- the current photocard has the words ‘European Union Model’ in the background writing in the band along the top, while the older version has ‘European Community Model’.
Why photocard licences?
Photocard licences were introduced as a result of an EU directive requiring all member states to issue driving licences in a card format which contains the licence holder's image and signature. There are numerous benefits that photocard driving licences offer, including:
- allows member state licence holders freedom to move around many European countries
- a more secure format which reduces the opportunity for misrepresentation
- ensuring that the person obtaining a provisional licence, taking the test and obtaining a full driving licence is one and the same
- a reduction in impersonation at driving tests
- ensuring that the person obtaining the licence is old enough to do so
- to minimise the chances of a person holding more than one licence, either by accident or design
Front of the new licence
Your personal details (1, 2 and 3)
Fields 1, 2 and 3 of your photocard licence record your surname, first names, date and place of birth.
Date of licence issue, photo expiry, issuing authority (4)
The date shown in 4a is the date the photocard was issued; 4b shows the date the photocard must be renewed. The authority that issued the licence is shown in 4c (in Northern Ireland this is the DVA).
Driver number (5)
Your unique eight digit NI driver number.
Holder’s photograph (6 – Not numbered, found on left side of card)
The new photocard licence has a black and white photo. This is because the laser technology used to burn the image onto the card producing a black and white photo is more secure. A colour photo will still need to be provided with your application to be stored on your driver record.
Holder’s signature (7)
This is digitally reproduced and burned into the photocard from the signature you provided on the application form.
Holder’s address (8)
This shows the driver’s permanent address in Northern Ireland.
Entitlement categories (9)
The letters in capitals show the categories of entitlement covered by the European Community Directive. National categories are shown in smaller letters.
Back of new licence
Pictogram Entitlement categories (9)
These illustrations are representations of types of vehicles in those categories shown.
Valid from (10)
The earliest date from which a driving category is valid from
Valid to (11)
The date until which a driving category is valid to
Information codes/Restrictions (12)
The code numbers printed in this area indicate what (if any) restrictions the entitlement is subject to
Not used (13)
Other security features
The driving licence also has tactile (raised) surfaces, tactile engraved text, changing colours, as well as complex background designs.
Paper counterpart driving licence
The most obvious difference in the paper counterpart is the colour; it has changed from multicoloured peach and pale blue to green and pink. The paper counterpart will show the vehicles you are entitled to drive as a learner, driving offences and other relevant information. It will also have a section where you can notify DVA of a change of address.
The previous NI photocard driving licence explained
The previous photocard driving licence issued from 1 April 1999 until 30 June 2011 has a number of differences from new version and will remain valid until the date of expiry shown at section 4b.
- the photocard driving licence is a flexible plastic credit-card style European Communities model photocard
- 'driving licence' is translated into the languages of EC member states, appears in white in curved lines, and the line pattern varies based on number of member states at time of issue
- on the back there is a key on the left to explain the numbered items on the photocard and a table, with pictograms (9) of licence categories with space for 'valid from' (10) and 'valid until' (11) and information codes for the different categories (12)
- the DVLNI logo repeats on the entire back of the card
- the paper counterpart driving licence completes the document. The counterpart displays the DVLNI key logo at top left of heading and must be carried with the photocard
- the paper counterpart is made of multicolored peach and pale blue paper with small DVLNI key pattern repeating at the top and large key logos on right
Validation/ security features
- the card has a gold overlay, which covers 60 per cent of front and 100 per cent of back; this displays 'DVLNI' when the licence is tilted
- the Agency logo links the photo and ghost image; color intensity of the logo may vary
- microprinting surrounds the four sides of the UK flag on the top left
- a UV feature shows royal coat of arms on the front of the card
- on the back of the card, inverted triangles enclose the DVLNI logo and shows as fluorescent green under UV light