THE long-awaited new style driving licences will finally be introduced in the new year as a standardised European licence comes in.
The credit-card sized licence will be more durable and have different security features.
Experts say that the move to a card which fits easily in a wallet will help to combat fraud and forgery.
New applicants for a learner permit or full licence will be given the more modern plastic card version from January 19.
Motorists will not be forced to swap their current driving licence for the new one, but will get one when renewing their current licence, whenever it expires.
Because the current Irish licence is valid for 10 years, it could be 2023 before the new credit-card style licence is in universal usage here.
Other changes in the licensing system are also coming into effect which will make the Road Safety Authority (RSA) the body responsible for processing driving licence applications.
Under the new regime, there will be a central unit in the RSA overseeing the driving licensing system, with other elements being provided by contractors.
There will be a period of transition for part of 2013, during which the local authorities will continue to perform some driving licensing functions.