Driver’s License is always the correct spelling to indicate official identification and clearance for operating a vehicle in the United States. While the name of this varies slightly between English-speaking countries, in all cases, you would never use “drivers license.”
So, for the sake of this discussion and simplicity, we’ll talk about the American use of the word. However, it’s also important to understand how other countries frame this so you can be appropriate about it when necessary.
The Driver’s License
In American English, the correct spelling is “driver’s license.” This is because you are being specific in someone’s ownership of the document to operate a car, truck, or other automobiles. Therefore, this is a singular noun.
“Drivers License” implies a plural form where many people share the same license, which would never happen in the United States. However, you can indicate plural licenses, which would be “drivers’ licenses.” Ergo, you still require the apostrophe (‘) but “license” will never be singular.
- Singular: My sister just got her driver’s license and she already wrecked the car.
- Singular: If you drink alcohol and drive, the government will take your driver’s license away.
- Plural: They brought their drivers’ licenses to get into the club.
Driver’s License in Other Countries
Australia, New Zealand, and the UK also have licenses and documentation that certify an individual has clearance to operate a vehicle on the road. However, there are different names for these, albeit slight with the main one using a ‘c’ in place of the ‘s’ in American English.
- Canada: “driver’s licence”
- UK/Great Britain: “driving licence”
- Australia; New Zealand: “driver licence”
The best way to remember the American English spelling is to commit the apostrophe to memory along with memorizing “driver’s license” as a singular possessive noun. The only time it will be plural is if you are talking about licenses of many people.
In any other English-speaking country, you will use a ‘c’ in “license,” replacing the ‘s.’ America is the only one that uses “driver’s license.” In Canada, it’s similar to the USA but the spelling of “licence” changes. Around the UK it will be “driving” and in Australia or New Zealand it will be “driver.”
If you end up making a mistake when spelling “driver’s license” in the USA, don’t worry. Most people get this wrong in any case. The apostrophe is necessary before the “s” because we are talking about one driver that is in possession of one license.
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