Drivers will not be forced to change their licences to plastic cards. Nguyen Van Quyen, deputy director general of the Vietnam Directorate for Road, told Dat Viet (Viet Land) newspaper.

* Currently printed on paper, new plastic licences will be issued beginning March 1, 2014 with the simple explanation "To avoid fraudulent use and to meet international integration requirements". Will you please elaborate?

Existing licences are easily altered or forged. That's why the Ministry of Transport (MoT) has decided to use PVC plastic, with advanced technology in the hope of maintaining maximum confidentiality.

To meet the requirements of international integration, Vietnamese and English will be used.

This will enable Vietnamese nationals going abroad, or foreign nationals entering Vietnam, to use licences issued by their own country's authorities or change them to the country where they are residing.

More importantly, when Vietnam signs an international treaty on the usage of driver's licences, Vietnamese nationals will be allowed to use Vietnamese licences abroad.

* Among the existing 32 million licences, how many owners are able to use them abroad? And how many countries have agreed to reciprocal recognition?

We have not conducted any specific survey. At present, Vietnam is not a signatory to the 1949 United Nations Convention on road traffic, covering acceptance of the International Driving Permit. However, Vietnam has diplomatic relations with many countries and many accept our driver's licence.

* What will happen to people who do not want to change the driver's licence? Will they be fined?

The ministry has adopted a road map until 2014, as all car drivers have to change their licences. However, for motorbike riders, the change-over will be from 2015-20.

* For a permanent licence, people are not obliged to change to plastic unless they want to or their licence are torn or lost. What about the case of those who have just received their licences?

In such a case, their licences remain valid. I want to say again, only people whose driver's licences expire in 2014 must have their licences changed. For other cases, it is up to the drivers to decide. The cost of a plastic driver licence is 135,000 VND (6.5 USD) and the cost will be paid by the driver.

* Does the MoT anticipate a situation in which there will be different treatments between old and new driver's licences by the traffic police? If that happens, how will it be treated by the ministry?

We have not thought of such a situation. However, if it happens, the jurisdiction will be on the management agency.

* What are the differences between the new licences and the existing ones apart from material quality and technology?

There are quite a few differences between the old and the new licences.

In addition to the registration number (the series number), they will also contain one additional number that will further identify the legal driver.

Security is high thanks to the use of advanced technology. This helps rule out the possibility of making forgeries or editing information contained on the card.

And finally, all the data appearing on the licence can be retrieved from the national database.

This will enable law enforcement officers check if the licence is authentic.-VNA