From January 19, applicants for new driving licences will be issued with credit card sized licences.
As part of the standardised European licence new the credit-card sized licence will be more durable and have different security features.
Experts say that the move to a card which fits easily in a wallet will help to combat fraud and forgery.
New applicants for a learner permit or full licence will be given the more modern plastic card version from January 19. Motorists will not be forced to swap their current driving licence for the new one, but will get one when renewing their current licence, whenever it expires.
Because the current Irish licence is valid for 10 years, it could be 2023 before the new credit-card style licence is in universal usage here.
Other changes in the licensing system are also coming into effect which will make the Road Safety Authority (RSA) the body responsible for processing driving licence applications.
There will be a period of transition for part of 2013, during which the local authorities will continue to perform some driving licensing functions.