The photocard driving licence explained
All driving licences issued by Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) are now issued in EU format - a plastic photocard and a paper counterpart. Old format style licences are still valid and will be updated gradually as they are renewed and replaced.
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 many benefits that photocard driving licences offer, including:
- allowing 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 cut in impersonation at driving tests
- ensuring that the person obtaining the licence is old enough to do so
- minimising the chances of a person holding more than one licence, either by accident or design
Front of the 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 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 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 show what, if any, restrictions there are
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.
Previously issued NI photocard driving licence
Photocard driving licences have been issued since 1 April 1999. All licence types stay valid until their date of expiry shown at section 4b.