From 16 September 2013 France started to issue a new format driving license. The famous pink paper style licences will be phased out and a new credit card model will instead be circulated.
Designed to be more secure and to fight the high level of forgeries of the old style certificate, the new driving licence will have a photograph of the holder, references to civil status and the right to drive, it contains an electronic chip which is machine readable.
Holders of the old style license have several years to replace it, in fact until January 2033, and all new issues will be in the replacement card style. The card will be posted out to holders and the old system of having to visit the Préfecture (check with your local town hall for details of your nearest office) to get a licence will be ended saving up to 2.4 million people thousands of hours of queuing each year for new licences and replacements.
EU Expats in France who are using licences from their original issuing country can continue to use them and will receive the new style card if exchanging or replacing them. Expats from outside the EU may need to acquire an international driver’s licence – you can check on your country’s Embassy or Consulate pages for details.
This change responds to instructions for a European directive in 2006 which aims to establish a single model to replace 130 existing formats in the 28 member states of the European Union.
Those who pass their driving test from 16 September 2013 will receive the new-style cards as well as anyone who has lost their original documents or had them stolen. From 2015 there will be a programme in place to issue replacements automatically to holders of the old style licences – some 38 million of them.
The new cards are free but are not valid for life as the pink paper ones were – these are renewable every 15 years.
Read more about driving regulations in France