The digital driving licence is one of those topics that cyclically return to the fore, thanks to statements by some politician or the arrival of a national or European circular with the result always the same: nothing done. Now, however, it seems that - finally - we are there.

In recent days, there has been renewed talk of digitising the driving licence, so that it can be 'dematerialised' by storing it on one's smartphone. How will it work?

Digital driving licence, how it works

At present, it is not possible to digitise one's documents: the physical version must be shown with each request. It matters little if you have a countersigned copy. Exceptions to this are, of course, any reports of loss. With the pandemic, however, something has changed. Remember the Green Pass, compulsory for access to various facilities, means of transport and more? You could have either a paper version or a QR code on your smartphone, to be framed at each request by the authorities.

It is precisely on this principle that the digital driving licence will be based, which will be integrated within the IO app, the application for interacting with the public administration, local or national, with the possibility of receiving notifications, making payments and consulting documents. According to statistics, it has currently been downloaded more than 37 million times, a sign of how strong the Italians' desire for digitalisation is.

La patente di guida statunitense sull'iPhone

On the app, which will thus be transformed into an IT Wallet (digital wallet), as explained at a hearing by the Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers with responsibility for technological innovation Alessio Butti, it will be possible to upload one's driving licence - along with health and disability cards - throughout the year.

The technical committee is said to have already carried out various tests, both of operation and compatibility. According to Butti, the electronic driving licence can also be stored in a private IT Wallet, probably referring to third-party software such as Apple Wallet or Google Wallet, systems for iOS and Android that allow to store tickets, credit cards and more (depending on the country of residence).

In the event of a check, it will thus be enough to show the QR code on one's smartphone, without fear of having forgotten one's wallet - and therefore documents - at home. The only precaution will of course be to have a charged battery, otherwise the digitisation will be of little use. When scanned, the police will be able to access all the relevant information, such as points left, any suspensions, etc., without having to resort to another terminal to enter the data manually. 

As mentioned, there is no exact timeline yet. The first tests for the public should start before long, with the opening to all expected in summer 2024.