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International vision and renewal standard for driver's licensure: A proposal

1 January 2003


Purpose of the research:

Globalization is the natural result of the increasingly common phenomenon of international business and travel. As we globalize and people cross borders more easily, standards of one country may not match those of another country. For instance, to get an international driver's license, one only needs to apply for it at their local responsible department. The international license is issued based upon the standards and rules applying to driver's licensure of that country. Standards can and do vary widely from country to country.

Specifically, there is no international vision and renewal standard. Different countries have widely differing requirements. Sometimes these vary between states or provinces within a country.

The purpose of this research is to compare different vision and renewal requirements a person needs to get a driver's license in various countries (USA, Canada, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland). Furthermore, this paper will propose an international vision and renewal standard for driver's licensure.


A questionnaire was designed to collect the information needed about vision and renewal requirements for a driver's license in each country. To get this information, it was necessary to contact different departments via e-mail. The official e-mail addresses for the correct departments were found by searching and/or a search engine for each country.


Surprisingly, results were quite different between different states within a country. To get a better overview, it was necessary to define one standard for each country. Only then was it possible to make a comparison between countries and suggest an international vision and renewal regulation for driver's licensure.

The fields that were researched for each state and country were:

- Visual acuity for each / both eyes with or without correction
- Visual acuity if one eye is blind ad the requirement for the other eye with or without correction
- The absolute minimum of visual acuity needed to get a driver's license
- What horizontal visual field is required, if any
- If color vision is tested
- If bioptic / telescopic lenses are allowed
- If there is a possibility of a restricted license, such as only day-time driving, speed limitation, etc.
- How often a driver is required to renew the license
- If and when the applicant must have a vision screening
- If the driver can renew the license by mail in or only in person


The most common requirements of the countries that were researched were:

- Visual acuity of 20 / 40 or better for an unrestricted license
- Visual acuity of 20 / 40 with or without correction if one eye is blind
- Absolute minimum visual acuity 20 / 40 or better for a restricted license
- Horizontal visual field of 140o for both eyes
- Color vision is not tested
- Bioptic / telescopic lenses are not allowed
- Driving restrictions are allowed (e.g.: only day time driving, driving below a certain speed, driving with extra outside mirrors, etc.)
- Renewal interval of: 5 years (standard); 80 years+ every 2 years
- Vision screening only for every new driver
- Renewal format in person


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