New Chipped Driving Licence Delayed

France will delay the planned mid-January introduction of a renewable micro-chipped national driving licence until September due to “IT problems and delays” says Atlantico.

The new credit card sized chipped licence has been delayed (Credit: Police Nationale)

EU member states have agreed to introduce a new European driving licence from January 19 that will see the current unlimited validity documents available in France come to an end and a range of tough licence renewal conditions introduced.

However according to the Atlantico website the European driving licence in the format of a credit card that came into force on Saturday January 19, 2013 in most EU countries has been delayed for France.

Unlike existing French licences that are issued to their holders for life, the upgraded licence has to be renewed every 15 years in France (and at different periods ranging between 10 and 15 years in other member states). The new credit card-style, micro-chipped licence will only be introduced in France from September 16 reportedly because of “technical and IT issues”.

Drivers will have to renew their upgraded card every 15 years at a fee. The existing 42 million licensed drivers will have to swap their current-for-life document for a new electronic chipped one by 2033 and pay for the privilege, as we reported here earlier.

According to Atlantico the new licence which will be standardised across the EU, offers more security — thanks to an embedded microchip and optical stripe –  and is designed to make it harder to falsify and more readily processed by police whose vehicles will be equipped with chip and optical readers.

The national licence data base (FNPC) will be upgraded and replaced by a new drivers’ licence management application called FAETON designed to improve the security and speed of delivery of permits to the motorist.

The Ministry of the Interior set aside a 31.9 million euro budget for the new procedures — 24 million for R&D and nearly 8 million for services related to FAETON.

Motorists can expect in some cases to be required to undertake physical or mental aptitude tests when applying for a  licence renewal and although the criteria for a  decision have not been set out they are likely to relate to age.

Professional drivers , i.e. those driving public or heavy duty transport for a living, are required to take a mandatory medical exam each time they renew licences which in turn will be valid for five years only.

One of the biggest changes with the new cards will be the  tougher scooter and motorcycle regime. Would-be scooter riders will have to pass a theory test and aptitude tests may also be required. Motorcycle owners can either attain eligibility for a licence at  24 (presently 21) after passing both a theoretical and a practical exam; or can have access from age 20 but only after at least two years of unblemished scooter driving. A  14-year-old must now also apply for a licence to ride a buzz-bike of under 50cc engine capacity. They must undertake both road code theory tests and seven hours of training from a registered driving school. Driving schools will be connected to the local prefectures under the new FAETON scheme so that the driving school attendance record is digitally incorporated in the new chipped licence.

If a motorist moves from one EU member state to another, in principle, there is no need to exchange a driving licence for a local one since all licences are mutually recognised across the EU.

However, should an EU national move to another EU country and establish residency there, he/she must exchange the licence for a local one once the current permit expires.

Motorists holding a driving licence for life who establish residence in another EU country may be required to exchange their licence for a local one after two years of residency. This then makes the resident subject to the same rules regarding validity periods, medical checks and renewals, as nationals of that country.

Story: Ken Pottinger


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