New EU driver licenses
Beginning on January 19th, 2013, countries in the European Union will issue new driver licenses. The format, layout, and contents of the new credit-card-size driver licenses will be the same across the entire European Union. There is no chip in the new cards, so that anybody, regardless of technical assistance, can read them. Furthermore, most of the information is designated by simple numbers and letters so that the licenses can be understood across languages.
Important Dates and Validity Periods
Although the new licenses will be issued beginning January 19th, all licenses issued before that date will still be valid. Old licenses will not have to be replaced until January 2033. The new licenses will no longer be valid for a lifetime as is currently the case in some countries. To protect against counterfeiting, the new licenses must be renewed every fifteen years. The renewal of licenses for normal cars and bikes will not require any further medical or practical testing, but licenses for some types of trucks and busses will have extra requirements.
Driver License Classes
The biggest difference between the new licenses and many of the older licenses can be found in the driving classes. There are now seventeen different classes covering all vehicles from bikes to trucks and farm equipment. The most common classes will be the AM, B, and L classes for bicycles, automobiles, and small farm equipment, respectively. Although many of the old classes have been split or combined into new classes on the new licenses, those drivers who still have the old licenses will be able to drive the corresponding automobiles.