I've got a Polish driver's license, it's older style, so it has unlimited validity. I'm supposed to exchange that for a newer one, with 15 years validity, but officially I have until 2033 to do that.

On the other hand, I've heard that some countries do not accept unlimited validity and apply their rules. If the document was issued more than 10 years ago is it still valid in EU? Does it matter in that case, that I'm a resident of the Netherlands?

  • 2
    Might be better on Travel.SE, since it's about validity during a short trip rather than validity for moving/living there?
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 20, 2014 at 10:34
  • @Gagravarr: Ok, I'm going to remove US part...
    – vartec
    Jun 20, 2014 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


Under article 2(1) of directive 2006/126/EC, EU countries have to recognize each other's licenses. Article 2(2) specifies that a country may require you to exchange it for a local license but not earlier than two years after taking up residence in that country. This also implies that they have to recognize it in all other situations, e.g. if you are merely traveling.

As far as the Netherlands is concerned, you do have to exchange your license if it was issued more than 10 years ago and you have been living in the Netherlands for more than two years. If you had a new license, it seems you could use it until it expires (i.e. for 15 years and not merely 10).

Even if you are a Dutch resident and your license is not valid there anymore, I see no reason why it would not be valid in other EU countries (e.g. on a visit to a third country). After all, the directive does not say anything about the validity of the license itself but only about the conditions under which a member state has to recognize it. In any case, law enforcement outside of the Netherlands is extremely unlikely to know or care about Dutch rules so the only scenario in which this could play a role is if you got involved in an accident or something like that.

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