Anger over new licence photo demands
MOTORISTS applying for a driving licence will have to travel to an approved central depot to have their photograph taken.
The move comes in after new regulations came into play this year.
And the cost of a new licence will is also set to increase to €55, more than double the current charge of €25.
From September photographs for the new credit card sized licence can only be taken by Credit Card Systems.
This is a Dublin-based company appointed by the Road Safety Authority to operate the system nationally.
However, it means that applicants will no longer be able to go to their local pharmacy or local photographer because only images taken by Credit Card Systems will be accepted.
It is understood the company will provide more than one official application point in each county but it has yet to announce where these will be.
At the moment, learner permits and driving licence applications go through the motor taxation offices of the local authorities but from September they will be moved to the National Driver Licence Service.
The Irish Pharmacy Union says the change will have a devastating impact on their members with possible job losses.
A spokesman emphasised that the move was not an EU requirement.
"It doesn't make sense that you can get a passport photo taken locally by a pharmacist or photographer or even yourself but now you have to deal with a firm nominated by the RSA to get a driving licence picture taken," he said.
The system is also criticised in the digital era where uploading photos is a simple process.
The union has called on the RSA to reconsider and allow people have their photograph taken wherever they wish.
"This would ensure that consumer choice and a level playing field prevails in the market," they added.
From the end of next week all first-time learner permits and first-time driving licences will be issued as a plastic card the size of a credit card.
The RSA has defended the hike in the licence fee saying the cost of a new licence compared favourably with fees in the UK and in Australia.