Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
Skip Navigation
  • DfT
  • Directgov
  • Business Link
  • Think Road Safety
  • Personalised Registrations
  • Download and Install Browsealoud
Last Updated: 22/02/2011

Press Release 24: DVLA consultation on smart card provisional driving licences

Release Date: 19/10/2007

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has launched a public consultation on proposals for a trial of smart card provisional driving licences. The trial is scheduled to begin early in 2008 and will last up to 12 months.


The trial will investigate the concept of using an electronic chip embedded into a provisional driving licence to improve its security and to combat the increase in the number of experienced drivers fraudulently taking driving tests on behalf of learners.


The trial will be restricted to Wales and only Welsh Bi-lingual Provisional Driving Licences will be chipped. Just under 30,000, licences will be involved, which will ensure the trial is manageable both in size and geography. The cards will pass out of circulation as each learner driver passes a driving test and their provisional licence is replaced with a full licence.


The data contained on the read-only chip will be the data currently shown on the photocard licence, including an improved quality colour photograph as the new format driving licence incorporates a black and white version of the photograph.


As part of the trial card readers will be provided to the Driving Standards Agency, to allow them to access a larger, higher quality photograph of the learner driver presenting for a driving test, and also to Welsh police forces to help them with roadside checks. They will also be available in Welsh DVLA Local Offices for drivers to access the chip data if they wish to inspect the information held.


The consultation will seek to establish public opinions on potential wider uses of smart card driving licences, for example, the ability for a driver to access electronic services offered by DVLA on a chip and pin basis, or use by a driver to authorise access to the driver record for car hire and insurance purposes.


The consultation document can be viewed at


 - Ends -  


Notes for editors: European legislation is preparing the way for the introduction of smart card driving licences across the European Union (EU). Although the specification of the chip is still to be determined, the technology is similar to the chip used in bank debit and credit cards.


In the UK, before you can learn to drive a car, moped or motorcycle on the road, you must apply for a provisional driving licence. The provisional driving licence issued by DVLA looks the same as the full driving licence but is green in colour and shows the letter "L" in red in the top left-hand corner (‘LD’ on Welsh Bi-lingual Provisional driving licences).


The chip will be an electronic microprocessor embedded in the driving licence card, to form a ‘smartcard’.


The Third Directive (Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on Driving Licences) provides member states of the European Community with the option of placing a chip on the full driving licence. The specification for the chip must be formally agreed and published by the EU Commission before countries can take up this option.DVLA has several years to implement most of its provisions into UK law and practice.


Once data is transferred onto a chip it cannot be modified unless the security provides access to do so. If changes a required a new licence has to be issued.


In this trial DVLA will not allow for any modification of data on the card once it has been issued.


To access the information from the smart card, a reader is needed. There are two ways for a reader to communicate with a smart card – either by inserting it in the reader (contact card) or by communicating with the reader by radio frequencies (contactless card). It is proposed that cards used in this proof of concept trial will allow both types of readers to be tested.


All press enquiries should be directed to:


DVLA Press Office 01792 782318