Driving licences are set to become digital next year with motorists able to show a version of the document on their smartphone, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has announced.

This will be in addition to the current plastic photocard licence, rather than replacing it, meaning drivers without smartphones need not fear the innovation.

Digital licences are part of the DVLA's plans, unveiled yesterday, to allow people to share and confirm their driver details with "trusted" third parties – which could possibly make the process of hiring a car easier.

A test system will be in place by September this year, with the full digital service likely to be developed between April and March 2018.

The agency's business plan states: "During 2017/18 we will be developing a quick, easy and secure service to allow customers to view a representation of their driving licence on their smartphone.

"The driver will be in control of their data and this can be used to share and validate driver information with trusted third parties through a secure website.

"This service will not replace the full driving licence [and] will only be available to driving licence holders who have authenticated themselves on Gov.uk through the existing driving licence service. [It] will be available 24/7, wherever the driver has a web connection."