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Road safety: driving licences

Road safety: driving licences

Clearer rules on EU driving licences ensure greater freedom of movement to EU drivers, reinforce road safety and help reduce fraud.


Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on driving licences (Recast).



It introduced a new European driving licence. It recasts Directive 91/439/EEC - which it repeals.


The directive:

  • reduces the scope for fraud: the new licence has a microchip, incorporating the information printed on the card. It introduces a validity period for car and motorcycle licence of 10-15 years to allow for regular update on the protection features and the holders. It sets up a new electronic network to ease communication between national authorities for licence checks;
  • helps to improve road safety: it introduces a new category of licence for mopeds and requires a mandatory theory test beforehand and a graduated access to heavier motorcycles. It further specifies testing requirements. Professional drivers must have medical checks every 5 years. Requirements are laid down for the qualification and training of driving examiners.

Licences issued by EU countries must be mutually recognised. The following are the driving licence categories:

  • category AM - for 2- and 3-wheel vehicles with a maximum design speed of not more than 45 km/h, as well as light quadricycles;
  • category A1 - for light motorcycles with a cylinder capacity not more than 125 cubic centimetres and a power less than 11 kW;
  • category A2 - for motorcycles with a power of under 35 kW;
  • category A - for heavy motorcycles without power restrictions;
  • category B - for passenger vehicles weighing up to 3,500 kg and not more than 8 passengers;
  • category BE - for a vehicle of category B towing a heavy trailer of under 3,500 kg;
  • category B1 (optional) - for quadricycles;
  • category C1 - for goods vehicles between 3,500-7,500 kg and for up to 8 passengers;
  • category C1E - for a vehicle of category C1 or B towing a heavy trailer; with a combined mass up to 12,000 kg;
  • category C - for goods vehicles weighing more than 3,500 kg; and not more than 8 passengers;
  • category CE - for a vehicle of category C towing a heavy trailer;
  • category D1 - for a passenger vehicle constructed for fewer than 16 passengers and no longer than 8 m;
  • category D1E - for a vehicle of category D1 towing a heavy trailer;
  • category D - for passenger vehicles for more than 8 passengers;
  • category DE - for a vehicle of category D towing a heavy trailer;
  • light trailers up to 750 kg may be towed with categories B, C1, C, D1 and D.

A table of equivalences between these categories and those set out in licences issued in EU countries prior to this Directive are contained in Decision 2014/209/EU.

Licences must state the conditions subject to which the driver is authorised to drive. If driving is authorised only for certain types of vehicle or for adapted vehicles, then this should be indicated by a code in the licence.

The issue of licences is also subject to conditions:

  • licences for categories C1, C, D1 and D: only to drivers already entitled to drive category B vehicles;
  • licences for categories BE, C1E, CE, D1E and DE: only to drivers already entitled to drive category B, C1, C, D1 and D vehicles respectively.

The minimum age for the issue of driving licences is:

  • 16 years for categories AM, A1 (light motorcycles) and B1 (motor-powered tricycles and quadricycles);
  • 18 years for categories A2, B, BE and C1;
  • 21 years for categories C, CE, D1 and D1E;
  • 24 years for categories D and DE.

EU countries may raise or lower the minimum age, within given limits, for certain categories.

EU countries must ensure that licence applicants possess the knowledge and skills and exhibit the behaviour required for driving a motor vehicle. In general, the tests to this effect must involve:

  • a theory test;
  • a test of skills and behaviour.

Examiners for the skills and behaviour test must have minimum competences. They are under a quality assurance regime and have to undergo periodic training.


From 19 January 2007.

For more information, see the European Commission’s EU driving licence website.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/126/EC



OJ L 403, 30.12.2006, pp. 18-60

Amending acts

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2009/113/EC



OJ L 223, 26.8.2009, pp. 31-35

Directive 2011/94/EU



OJ L 314, 29.11.2011, pp. 31-34

Directive 2012/36/EU



OJ L 321, 20.11.2012, pp. 54-58

Directive 2013/22/EU



OJ L 158, 10.6.2013, pp. 356-361,

Directive 2013/47/EU



OJ L 261, 3.10.2013, pp. 29-29.

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2006/126/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Commission Regulation (EU) No 383/2012 of 4 May 2012 laying down technical requirements with regard to driving licences which include a storage medium (microchip) (OJ L 120, 5.5.2012, pp. 1-11).

Commission Decision 2014/209/EU of 20 March 2014 on equivalences between categories of driving licences (OJl L 120, 23.4.2014, pp. 1-89)

Commission Regulation (EU) No 575/2014 of 27 May 2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 383/2012 laying down technical requirements with regard to driving licences which include a storage medium (microchip) (OJ L 159, 28.5.2014, pp. 47-49).

last update 24.04.2015