European driving license: validity and driving license exchange

Since January 2013 European driving licenses are issued in the same format and design. The so-called EU driving license is intended to improve traffic safety within the European Union and is valid for 15 years. In order to maximize the standardization in the European Union, all driver's licenses without a validity date (issued until 2013) need to be exchanged until 2033.

Purpose of EU driving license

The European driving license guideline has the purpose to ban the 110 different driver license types within the European Union. In addition, it enables to expand driving bans, speeding or other traffic offenses beyond the borders.

With an effective date the topicality of the photo and the name, as well as the state of the art (smart card) can be ensured. The standardization of the driving license also minimizes driving license falsification, as all the cards are registered in one system and should not be duplicated at least at EU level.

How does the Driving License look like?

The EU driving license, like the ID card, contains information about you and your driver's license. The data are marked with numbers on the check card and displayed in a similar way in every European country so that easier identification is possible during checks. Specifically, the information consists of name (1st / 2nd), date of birth / place (3rd), date of issue (4a.), Expiration date (4b.), Issuing authority (4c.), Driver's license number (5.), Image of the holder (6.), signature of the holder (7.), license classes (9.), date of acquisition of the respective class (10.), validity of fixed-term classes (11.) and restrictions (12.) together.

Exchange obligation for all EU citizens

By 2033, all old driving licenses within the EU will lose their validity or should be exchanged for a new EU driving license. In Germany the exchange of approximately 15 million paper driver's licenses and around 28 million check card driver's licenses must be changed. In order to avoid delays and chaos the law (Annex 8e to the driver's license ordinance) has now come into force to introduce the graduated plan.

The early switch-over deadlines are intended to protect authorities against masses of documents at the end of the deadline and to avoid long waiting times for citizens.

Step plan in detail

The graduated plan is divided into the first section by age of the driving license owners.

Birth Year

Conversion Deadline

Before 1953 19.1.2033








1971-or later


In the second section a graduation for all driving licenses with the issue date after 1.1.1999 was made.

Exhibition Year

Conversion Deadline















Driving test and special rules for the driver's license

The EU exchange obligation only refers to the driver's license as a document of proof - so when you exchange your car driving license (class B) or motorcycle license (class A) no new examination must be taken.

For driving license classes C, CE, D and DE, a health examination and an ophthalmological certificate for the extension of the driving license must be issued from the age of 50 years. Basically, these license classes have a validity period of five years.

Costs and penalties

The exchange must take place at the driving license authority of the current domicile and costs 25 €. An ID card or passport, biometric passport photo and the current driver's license are required. Paper license holders also require an index card from the authority that originally completed the license. If you do not change your residence, you will not need an index card transcript.

For driving license classes C and CE, costs of around € 150 are expected every five years, since a wide range of preliminary examinations are necessary for an extension.

If you do not exchange your old driving license on time a penalty of €10 has to be expected. In the case of an expired driver's license of the classes C and CE the penalties can be a lot higher: high fines or imprisonments of up to one year are possible.