Driving licences issued by the EEA-countries display the place of birth of the license holder. Why is this information so important that it needs to be on the driving license?

I've tried to research this topic but all answers boil down to the fact that the directive (Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on driving licences) requires it. No answers are given to why the directive requires place of birth to be displayed on the license.

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    I'm wondering why the officer looking at the driver's license needs to know the place of birth of the driver as it doesn't have any affect on one's right to drive.
    – MrCool
    Dec 25, 2022 at 16:32
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    I don’t know from where the questioner comes, but I’ve always found it strange that American driving licenses apparently have the drivers height and weight. I suppose it’s just different cultural conventions. Dec 25, 2022 at 19:05
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    @NeilTarrant - identifies to help validate that the driver and the driver’s license belong to the same person. Why is there a picture? Same reason. Dec 25, 2022 at 20:00
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    Cultural differences. In many places of Europe birth date plus location is a standard identifier in addition to your name (as others have mentioned, to reduce clashes, especially for people with frequently used names). So, nothing specific to the driving license itself, just a very common item when it comes to identification. The third such item is the maiden name of your mother. It's not only the driving license, my ID card (Hungary) has that data, too.
    – Gábor
    Dec 25, 2022 at 23:43
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    My driver's license (Swedish) doesn't have information about place of birth. According to the Wikipedia article, Norway and Sweden don't include this information, so apparently it is not an absolute requirement. Maybe the directive only provides a format to be used for those countries that want to include that information to improve uniqueness?
    – jkej
    Dec 26, 2022 at 5:30

2 Answers 2


The document 2003/0252 (COD) provides background discussion of rationale for an earlier version of the regulation. Two important considerations regarding the EU licensing scheme are underscored: the desideratum of unique identification, and fraud prevention. The rationale relates to safety – they want to know whether a specific person has been banned from driving for safety reasons, and they are aware that people can make fraudulent claims ("That's not me, that's someone else"). Remember that the right to drive is not absolute, it can be revoked.

An earlier (earliest?) form of the proposal is Document 51988PC0705, submitted 9 Dec. 1988. where the Council of European Communities which contains the skeleton of the present law. Annex 1 gives the earlier required information. The required information is more minimalist, including Surname, other names, place and date of birth, permanent place of residence, and other information on the issuance of the license (where, when valid, who issued). Given this sparse required information, name, place and date of birth will generally uniquely identify the license holder.

It is true that unique identification can be accomplished in various ways, but the reason why the current rule is what it is is because nobody has persuasively argued for an alternative rule that does not include date and place of birth, and date of birth would be independently necessary w.r.t. rules governing minimum age of drivers. Since the requirement was present in 1988, it was just copied from version to version over the decades.

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    Unlike the place of residence, the place of birth never changes, so driving licenses don't need to change when somebody moves.
    – PMF
    Dec 25, 2022 at 19:48
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    @PMF US driver's licenses typically do have the licensee's current address.
    – phoog
    Dec 27, 2022 at 11:47
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    @phoog Thanks, I wasn't sure about this. I don't have any identify document specifying my current address.
    – PMF
    Dec 27, 2022 at 12:43
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    UK driving licenses also show current address.
    – bdsl
    Dec 27, 2022 at 14:38
  • Canada has current address as well
    – Amon
    Dec 30, 2022 at 2:09

Name and date of birth are not sufficiently unique to identify a person. While name, date of birth, and place of birth do not have to be unique, either, it reduces the number of false positives. Also, date of birth is somewhat better known than place of birth for most people.

Motorist: "Sorry, officer, I seem to have lost my wallet. Everything was in there, ID, license, ..."
Cop: "Tell me your name, date and place of birth, and I'll run a query if you
do have a license."

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    For unique identification purposes some countries insert personal number of the license holder into the optional data field 4d) which uniquely identifies the driver. EEA driving licenses are also designed to be valid across the EEA, and if the driver is driving abroad the officer cannot even run a query as they don't have access to databases of an another country. And also the query doesn't need the place of birth to be printed on the license which is the point of my question.
    – MrCool
    Dec 25, 2022 at 16:28
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    @MrCool, almost nobody is going to memorize that number. (In fact, a terrorist in Germany got caught because he had his fake ID card number memorized, IIRC.) You are right regarding cross-border inquiries, but his is about having an additional human-friendly "checksum" on the document.
    – o.m.
    Dec 26, 2022 at 7:39
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    @o.m. I don't know of anyone who has memorised their ID card's number (the document number), but pretty much everyone I know in our little corner of Europe knows their own personal ID code by heart.
    – Celos
    Dec 26, 2022 at 11:30
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    @o.m. it is the same in Bulgaria (somewhere in the middle over EU in regard to the digitalization) and it is like this well before the digitalization even became a thing. You get your government-issued 10-digit ID when born and use it whenever you fill a form. And when one gets spouse or children, memorizes their IDs as well. Not really hard because the first 6 digits are your birthdate. It is guaranteed to be unique over the country population and even has a checksum digit,
    – fraxinus
    Dec 26, 2022 at 17:32
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    @MrCool place of birth is traditionally one of the data points used to identify people. Its importance for that purpose has dwindled with the advent of photographic identify documents over the last century or so, and more recently numeric identifiers and the use of other biometric identifiers. Is your question "why did they start using place of birth" or "why didn't they stop"?
    – phoog
    Dec 27, 2022 at 11:44

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