France issues new driving licences

France is now issuing new driving licences in line with the standard EU plastic cards to replace the old and less secure paper model.

All applications for driving licences from 16 September will have an electronic chip. The old paper models will be phased out gradually until the final date for their expiry in 2033.

The new licences are being supplied by Gemalto, a leader in digital security, headquartered in Amsterdam. The company is supplying the French Imprimerie Nationale, the public printing office, with its Sealys electronic embedded software that allows the licences to be scanned and checked by contactless readers. Gemalto already supplies France with its epassports and epermits software.

The Sealys system can also be upgraded to function as a smart card to track insurance and vehicle registration details.

It is estimated that at present about 5 to 10 per cent of French driving licences are fraudulent. The news system should make counterfeiting impossible.