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UK driving licence and residence card

Last updated 25 February 2020

By entrusting Gemalto to supply up to 80 million secure documents, the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) aims to enhance security and lower costs.​

Delivering real taxpayer savings

As of 2013, British motorists get the new UK driving licence supplied by Gemalto.​

The United Kingdom’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is a recognised centre of excellence for the issuance of secure national documents like the Driving Licence and Biometric Residence Permit.

The agency had previously replaced paper driver’s licenses with photocard licenses featuring enhanced security in 1998 and move from Teslin​ to polycarbonate in 2006. 

DVLA is now seizing on the EU initiative as an opportunity to make DVLA licenses even more secure through tamper-evident design. 

As part of the UK’s parliamentary structure, DVLA is accountable to the general public. Expectations are therefore high to produce a driver’s license that meets the UK’s stringent quality standards and delivers better value for taxpayers.

The Gemalto secure documents exemplify the next generation of highly secure polycarbonate​ cards. 

uk driving licence

UK resident permit and tachograph card

The Gemalto operating systems included in the Resident Permit and Tachograph cards are among the fastest, most interoperable on the market, enabling significant cost savings both at the personalization stage and in usage. 

UK tachograph card

The UK digital tachograph system encompasses a motion sensor and a controlling vehicle unit installed in lorries and busses and four types of tachograph cards: 

  • a card with photo for commercial drivers to store all individual driving activity over the previous four weeks
  • a card for the company operating the vehicle for fleet management, 
  • a card for approved workshops responsible for installing and calibrating motion sensors, 
  • a card for the authorities performing roadside checks.

50 countries, comprising all of Europe plus Turkey and the CIS states (Russian Commonwealth of Independent States) have the system deployed. ​

UK Residence Card

The UK Residence card provides temporary residence entitlement for non-EU citizens and is valid for 5 years. However, the card won’t be valid after the UK leaves the EU. A new scheme will be available for EU citizens and their family members to apply to stay in the UK after the UK leaves the EU. The card costs £65 for each person.​

It embeds a contactless micro-controller which securely stores biometric data, simplifying residency entitlement verification and also stores ID data for social security and tax affairs. The contactless interface is mandatory and meets the same EU standards as biometric ePassports.​

 The 100% polycarbonate UK cards feature laser-engraved images and visible security patterns to deter tampering. 

But why is polycarbonate so special?

One property unique to polycarbonate document is that it is non-delaminable. It is impossible to separate layers of polycarbonate that have been fused together using temperature and pressure.

During lamination, the constituent molecules in polycarbonate layers fuse together to form a homogeneous mass. The result is a single, solid document. This solid document serves to trap, and thus protect, all the security features that are printed or positioned on its various constituent layers. 

There's more.

Fitted with unique security features such as Gemalto Edge Sealer feature, a laser engraving process applied during the production stage to the edge of the polycarbonate document,  the new ultra-secure UK cards are also benefiting from the durability of polycarbonate for a longer document life are valid 10 years.

Proof of identity in the UK

UK nationals do not have identity cards (more on the UK ID card project).

The UK residence card and the photo driving licence can serve as a proof of name in non-driving contexts (e.g. when opening a bank account) or age (e.g. when buying alcohol, fireworks etc.). 


if you provide your residence card or driving licence as proof of your name you must provide another form of identification for your address, such as a utility bill, according to gov.uk.

​Agreement with Gemalto UK Ltd

According to DVLA, the new contract signed delivers millions of pounds of savings for the UK taxpayer and allows DVLA to issue even more secure driver licenses, and provide the next generation of high-security smart cards for other parts of UK government. 

The agreement has been entered into with Gemalto UK Ltd, the Fareham-based central hub for Gemalto in Britain, which is in charge of managing the entire project.​

Gemalto UK Ltd (Fareham) (Cards)
Concorde Way, Segensworth North Hampshire
PO15 5RX Fareham
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1489 889 600


Gemalto in the United Kingdom

In April 2018, Gemalto has been selected to supply a new generation of British passport. The new blue electronic passport would be gradually introduced from late 2019 and full production would be in place by 2020.

Gemalto UK Ltd is also a major supplier of financial cards and PSD2 compliant solutions to Banks and Fin Techs (Curve card for example).

Gemalto also supplies a number of hardware and software solutions including Card Digitization and Tokenization to Banks and other businesses aimed at fraud prevention, data and transaction protection.

The company is a major supplier to the telecom industry where it supplies SIM cards to many Mobile Network operators and Virtual Mobile Network Operators. Next generation technologizes including On Demand Connectivity, Over the Air Activation of phones and eSIMs are also provided in the United Kingdom.

Gemalto supplies contactless transport cards to a number of transport of authorities in the country.

IPress release

Gemalto Signs Multi-Year Contract with the United Kingdom Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency