DRIVERS IN Louth applying for their first learner permit or renewing their driving licence will receive a modern, plastic, credit card sized version as Ireland moves to standardise the licensing system as part of an EU directive.
A spokesperson for Louth County Council said: 'Although the directive officially takes effect on January 19, all driving licence applications submitted from January 12 will receive the new plastic card licence.
'Applications for a licence or learner permit will continue to be made at the local Motor Tax Office but the facility to provide over-thecounter licences will no longer be available after this date. This is because the new format licence will be produced in a specialist facility, because of the card's high-level security features, and posted out to the applicant.
'In addition to the introduction of the new licence, licence delivery will also be centralised when the Road Safety Authority (RSA) becomes the national licensing authority in January. Motor Tax Offices will continue to deliver the service until September 2013; after that, licences will be delivered by the RSA under the banner of the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS).
'As all old paper licences are valid for a maximum of ten years, they will be replaced on a phased basis as they expire, meaning that by 2023, everyone in Ireland should have a new plastic card licence. All other licences will remain valid until their expiry date.
The Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar recently announced that from January 1, a ten year licence will cost €55. A three-year licence will cost €35 and a one-year licence will be €25. The cost of a learner permit is €35.
'Changes to existing licences and permits, for example, if you wish to add a ' new category', will cost €35. Licences for the over 70s will remain free of charge. Under the terms of the directive, a three-year licence will only be available on medical grounds or where a person is 67 years or older.
' The switchover from the production of a paper licence to the production of a plastic card licence will take place between January 12 and 19. Therefore, there will be no facility to issue any licences during that week.
'If your current licence is due to expire during that week, you must submit your renewal application to your local Motor Taxation Office at the earliest opportunity'.