More countries in the European Union are getting on board with the concept of an electronic driver’s license. Based on European Directive 383/2012, which advocates for adding a smart secure element to driver’s licenses, six EU member states have completed the tender procedure, and another six have shown interest in it.
A European eLicense will be a step toward streamlining the current driver’s license systems into a single card. Eurosmart, an European association that represents the smart card industry for multi-sector applications, says that there are 110 different driver’s licenses in use in Europe. These licenses feature different languages, materials and information and the association feels that migrating to one standard chip card will be simpler for the EU.
Eurosmart also states that eLicenses that contain a smart chip and secure element enable for better cross-checking of information printed on the license itself, would add to the concept of unifying information across Europe and would have multi-application capabilities that could add additional features and uses.
The EU’s specs on eLicenses do deviate from international ISO standards, specifically 18013, but the deviations are due to the EU seeking involvement from transport ministries and accessing biometric information, which can tie the eLicense to an ePassport. Interoperability with the ISO standard has been tested, and there are multiple suppliers that can provide the materials required.
Additionally, EU directives have limited the license validity period, particularly for commercial and professional drivers. Although citizens can have licenses for 10 to 15 years, commercial driver’s licenses are only valid for five years in hopes of keeping the driver’s information current in order to maintain reliable authentication.
Europe trending toward eLicenses should not be a surprise, seeing as how it’s jumped on the eID bandwagon. According to Acuity Market Intelligence, the adoption rate of eIDs among European countries is higher than any other region in the world.