The format of the Hong Kong driving licence has undergone evolutionary changes over the years. It has been issued in the form of a printed book with a beige hard cover until the early 1970s (Figure 1). The book was of an identity card size comprising 38 pages, with bilingual specifications. The licence specifications, including the licence number, name and residential address of the licence holder, were manually written on the book. The official receipts of the licence fees together with the photograph and signature of the licensee were included as part of driving licence. The renewal records of the licence and the provisional driving licence, the precedent of the learner's driving licence, were also incorporated as part of the book of Hong Kong Driving Licence.
In early 1970s, the Department introduced first generation of Vehicles And Drivers Licensing Integrated Data (VALID) System which is a computer based information system for registration and licensing of vehicles and drivers by maintaining the databases of vehicle records and driving licence records. Since then replaced by a computerized process. The specifications of the driving licence were computer-printed and the licences were issued in the form of a laminated card of credit card size (Figure 2, 3, 4 & 5). The specifications included the licensee's name, identity number, driving entitlements, date of issue, etc. The vehicle class codes and the restriction codes were listed for reference at the back of the card. In the 1970s and 1980s, the photograph of the licence holders remained on the card of licence. On the other hand, all the specifications, except the licensee's name in Chinese, were pre-printed or printed by computers. Over the years, the VALID System has undergone a number of enhancements. The VALID I evolved to the VALID II in 1976 and then the VALID III which is the current system since 1991 and is a complete re-design and redevelopment of the system. With VALID III, the Chinese characters of the licensee's name can be printed by the computer onto the licence. Moreover, the photograph of the licence holder is no longer required to be put on the driving licence card.