A new electronic permit for French drivers


​​​​​​​​​​[ French version]

Fighting document fraud

The driver's license is replacing the traditional paper document from 16 September 2013. 

The new document will help combat fraud while maintaining robust protection of personal information. 

An estimated 5 to 10% counterfeit driving licenses are believed to be in circulation in France.

A new electronic permit for French drivers
(Photo: copyright Imprimerie Nationale)

A secure polycarbonate document

The Gemalto driver's l​​icense, ISO 18013 and compliant with the EU directive, securely stores the personal details printed on the permit, allowing the police to quickly and efficiently authenticate the identity of the holder.

Imprimerie Nationale who designed the system, and produces the cards, also selected Gemalto Issuance solution to personalize the new eDocument in-house.

Aims of the French modernization program

  1. Improve road safety
  2. Ensure more effective application of the law​
  3. Eradicate identity fraud
  4. Strengthen public trust in the driving license
  5. Modernize the administrative process

​Improving road safety 

Driving licenses have evolved from a means of generating​ venue to fund road infrastructure to become the proof of a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
As such they have become fundamental to ensuring public safety on roads. As underlined by the European Commission in January 2013: “fake driving licenses are a license to kill” and tackling fraud is central in improving road safety.

Until now, the French driving license has been the most commonly forged document in the country, according to experts. 
Out of 38 million driving licenses in circulation in France, more than 3 million are counterfeit (source: “L’usurpation d’Identité”, Guy de Felcourt, CNRS éditions​ - July 2011). 

Of these 3 million:
  •  700,000 are used for driving, threatening the safety of road users, 
  • more than 2 million are used as identity documents, used in welfare fraud in particular. ​

​Slashing fraud

According to the same source, document fraud represents a cost of at least €5 billion for the French state.
In addition to its old design (dating from 1954), this administrative document had another weakness: no
expiry date. However the new license, which remains free for the holder, is valid for a limited period of 15 years.
Finally, the European Directive of 2006 (2006/126/EC) gave member states until January 19, 2013, to make the switch to a credit-card format license. Since this date, driving categories and license format have been harmonized across the European Union.

The replacement of the pink three-section French license began on September 16, 2013.

Public trust and modernization of processes


The experience gained by Gemalto through talking to customers and learning from its project teams working on major electronic driving license programs worldwide shows the importance of upstream processes, in particular:​

  • the quality of registration (enrolment) 
  • and identity checks (documents). 

In all cases, Gemalto recommends a secure, “face-to-face” registration process and the presentation of several identity documents to guarantee that the person receiving the card is the right person. 

In the document issuance chain, there is a real risk that false credentials may be used to obtain valid identity documents. Each year in France, for example, more than 20 million documents are used to apply for administrative services (mainly bills as proof of address, bank details and tax assessments).

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