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Driver's license

A driver's license (UK: driving licence; US: driver license) is an official document which states that a person has the necessary qualifications to drive a motorized vehicle, such as a motorcycle, car, truck, or a bus.

In most European countries a person has to be at least seventeen or eighteen years old to drive a car.

In the United States and Canada, the driving age is determined by the state or province, with the most common age being sixteen. Most states and provinces also have restricted driver's licenses (also called learner's permits), which allow a person to drive provided they are accompanied by a licensed driver. There has also been a trend toward "graduated driver's licenses", in which new (especially young) drivers are gradually allowed more driving privileges instead of being given complete driving privilege all at once. Learner's permits are granted by some states to drivers as young as fourteen.

In the United Kingdom, the driving age for a car or van is seventeen, while a moped or restricted-power motorcycle can be ridden at sixteen. Until a driving test has been passed (which consists of two sections: a theory-based test and a supervised driving examination) a driver will hold a Provisional License, and must display learner plates ( a large red L on a white background) on the front and back of the vehicle. They must also be accompanied by an adult with a valid driving licence.

In the United States and Canada, persons who drive commercially (especially truckers and taxi drivers) are required to have special licenses, sometimes called chauffeur's licenses. In the United Kingdom, one must hold a Passenger Service Vehicle (PSV) license to drive a bus carrying more than eight passengers, or a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) license to drive a lorry (truck) licensed to carry a weight greater than 3500 Kg. The cost of taking the series of tests and examinations to obtain these licenses usually means that that the employer subsidizes his or her drivers.

The holder of a licence from any EU member country can drive in any other EU country. Most countries worldwide will also recognise the licences of citizens of foreign states wishing to drive as visitors. All EU member countries now issue licences in a standard format, regardless of the language of the licence. The International Driving Permit (IDP) (sometimes erroneously called the International Drivers' Licence) is a booklet which is an authorised translation of a driver's home licence into many languages (especially languages with different scripts such as Cyrillic, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc.), and is typically obtained from the Automobile Association or equivalent organisation in the drivers home country. The IDP has no validity except when used in conjunction with the driver's own licence.

Because the United States and Canada have no national identification cards and because of the widespread use of cars, drivers' licenses are typically used in both countries as a form of identification. Most state and provincial driver's license bureaus also issue identification cards for nondrivers.

Many European countries require drivers to carry ID cards as well as their licence. Citizens of the UK, which has no national ID card may have to carry their passports instead when travelling in these countries.

Under the US Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the various states are encouraged to set up programs through which licensed drivers can make organ donations for the purpose of transplant by a notation on their license.

For information on driving and especially on safe driving see Driving.