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Revealed: How much it costs to learn to drive in these 11 countries

Over the years, the cost of learning to drive in the UK has significantly increased, due to rising demand, cost of lessons, petrol prices and car insurance. But how much more - or less - are we paying than those in other countries?
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Uswitch have put together a roundup of 11 countries around the world, looking at how much learning to drive abroad compares with the UK, and which driving licences are valid here..

How much does it cost to obtain a driving licence in these 11 countries around the world?  

United Kingdom 

Annual average salary: £35,031.61 GBP The cost of a provisional driving license in the UK comes in at £34 if you purchase the identity card online, or £43 if you apply by post. A replacement fee will be charged if you lose the licence. According to Gov.co.uk, you can apply for your provisional driving licence at 15 years and 9 months old, but you cannot legally start driving until you’re 17. Unlike other countries, the UK has a ‘pay as you go’ method, meaning that if you fail either test, you will have to pay the full test price again until you obtain a pass. Your theory test is valid for two years, and within this time frame you must pass your practical to avoid paying for a theory test again. The minimum cost you can expect to pay to learn how to drive in the UK is £1,264. With students needing around 45 hours of lessons (according to the RAC) before a practical test, this is the minimum you can expect to pay, and this is without car insurance. Depending on where you live within the UK, driving lesson prices and demand can fluctuate, however legal documents will stay the same price for all parts of the country.

  • Provisional licence: £34 (£43 if done by post) 

  • Replacement: £20 

  • Practical test: £62 

  • Theory test: £23 

  • Driving lesson: £25-£30 per hour  

Minimum cost: £1,244 

Ireland

Annual average salary: €43,832.33 To gain an Irish driver’s licence, you can purchase one of three drivers’ licences, one that lasts for a year, one that lasts for three years, and one that lasts for 10 years. In Ireland,you need to be at least 17 years old to learn how to drive. You will also need a mandatory 12 hours with a RSA approved driving instructor. The average amount you are expected to pay for a driving lesson would be between €30 and €40 per hour, students usually have around 46 hours' worth of driving time, plus extras.

  • 1 year licence: €25 

  • 3 year license: €35 

  • 10 year license: €55

  • Driving lesson: €30-€40 per hour

Minimum cost: €1,495 (£1,272.97)

Norway 

Annual average salary: 494,370.11 NOK Legally you must be 18 to drive in Norway. A Norwegian driving licence will cost you around 30,000 kroner to drive – that is a huge £2,536.82 for a package. In Norway, you will need 17 hours of mandatory lessons – but hourly wages in Norway are a lot higher than the European average. With intensive driving courses, statistics reveal that there are a lot less accidents on the road because the education of driving is so high here. 

  • Cost of package: 30,000kr

Minimum cost: 30,000kr (£2,536.82)

 USA 

Annual average salary: $69,400 You must be at least 16 years old to drive in the USA, however, if you’re learning in some states such as New Jersey, you must be 17. Obtaining a driver’s licence is different depending on where you live within the country. In the USA, depending on what state you live in depends on how much you pay for an American driver's licence. Depending on where you live in the US, also determines how long your driver’s licence is valid for. It will cost you $64.25 to hold a licence in New York, but it is valid for 8 years, costing just $8.03 per year. Whereas in Arizona you will be paying $25, but this licence is valid for 12 years, meaning that you are only paying $2.08 a year. If you measure that against a UK drivers’ licence, we are only paying £3.40 per year to hold our drivers’ licences for the duration of 10 years.

  • Driving licence: between $10 and $89 (depending on which state you live in) 

  • Driving tests: $50-$150 

  • All-inclusive driving licence packages: $200-$1800 

Minimum cost: $200 without all-inclusive packages (£145.21)

Sweden 

Annual average salary: 421,214.71 SEK The average price to obtain a driving licence in Sweden will be around 15,000 kr (£1,266.90). Eye tests, risk training, skid training, theory test and practical driving tests are all mandatory within this price, and you must be 18 years old to drive a car. The learner permit is free and is valid for 5 years.

Minimum cost: 15,000kr (£1,266.90) 

Spain

Annual average salary: €33,659.66

In Spain you must legally be 18 years old to drive a car. The cost of passing a driving test in Spain can be anywhere from €800-1200. The practical driving test is almost double the price than what it is here in the UK. However, driving lessons are slightly cheaper. Although, the theory test is £50 more expensive than in the UK, and Spanish driving tests will also see you pay fees for registration, as well as providing health documents.

  • Driving test: €123

  • Driving lesson: €25

  • Theory exam: €92

  • School registration fees: €59

  • Health documents: €25

Minimum cost: 1,334.53€ (£1,124) 

France 

Annual average salary: €49,500

To drive in France, you must legally be 18 years old. Like Spain, driving in France costs around €1,200. Extra lessons outside of the 20 normal hours of lessons taken, however, will be slightly more expensive in France than it would be in Spain or the UK, depending on what region of the country you are in. If you fail your driving test, you must wait a full three months and start the process over. A French driving licence is valid for 15 years, you do not have to pay money for the actual test, but you must pay administrative fees when joining motor schools.

  • Driving lessons: €30-50 per lesson 

Minimum cost:1,200 (£1,010) 

Germany

Annual average salary: €47,616.30

The legal driving age in Germany is 18. The cost of a driver’s licence in Germany will cost anything from €1,500 to €3,000 with just over €2,000 making it the norm for the cost of everything. This is one of the higher prices you pay to pass the driving test. It will take you between 3-5 months to get your driver's licence depending on what region you are taking your test, and the waiting times behind that. 

  • Driving lessons: €45-70 per lesson

  • Practical test: €91,75

  • Theory test: €22,49 

Minimum cost: €1,500 (£1,263.49) 

Italy

Annual average salary: €33,462.09 The Italian drivers licence is one of the cheaper licences to obtain. You do have to be 18 years old, and it will cost you between €800- €850 all inclusive, however, there is a catch. This might look inexpensive to have everything included, but you must have everything done within a 6-month timeframe from passing a theory exam – if you do not, you will have to pay for it all again. 

Minimum cost: €800 (£673.91) 

Portugal

Annual average salary: €25,170.32 Obtaining your driving licence in Portugal is cheaper than many other European countries, around 400€ to be exact. You can only have 3 wrong answers in your theory test in Portugal, otherwise you will have to retake it. Once you have passed the driving test, you must pay a €30 issuing fee for your licence. You have to be 18 years old to drive in Portugal.

  • Issuing fee: €30

  • Packaged driving license: €400

Minimum cost: €430 (£361.78) 

Thailand

Annual average salary: 1,160,000 THB

To learn how to drive in Thailand, you must be 18 years old. Thailand’s driving licences cost around £11. You will just need a medical certificate that is no more than a month old, your ID card and proof of residency. If you haven’t taken any lessons in a car before, you will be tested on your reaction time, eyesight, multiple choice test and a practical. Driving lessons will be between 3,000-4,000THB for 10 hours of lessons.

  • Driving licence: 305THB (£6.00) for 2 years or 605THB (£13.00) for 5 years

  • Practical test: 50-200THB (£1-£4)

  • Driving test: 3,000-4,000 THB for 10 hours (£66)

  • Theory test: 3,500 – 4,000THB (£76 - £84)

  • Driving lessons (per 10 hours): 3,500 – 4,000THB

Minimum cost: 6,855THB (£152.84)

Foreign driving licenses which you can use in the UK

If you are a foreign national either from Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland or Zimbabwe, you can exchange your licence for a UK licence if you become a resident. 

If you are just visiting from the EU, you can use your EU licence without needing an International Driving Permit. UK residents who own an EU licence can exchange for a UK one, and they won’t need to do a retest. 

If you do not check ahead of driving in the UK and if your licence is not valid, you may encounter a fine up to £5000. 

Florence Codjoe, Car insurance Expert at Uswitch added:

“Learning to drive abroad is somewhat easier in different countries, but it can also be somewhat harder. ‘The main thing to remember is that if you decide to take your driving test abroad, or start learning to drive in a different country, you have to obey their rules of the road.

When it comes to driving, everyone is different. Even though there are minimum costs for driving in different countries, don’t stop learning until you are fully confident to take your test. If you are driving abroad at any time, make sure your driving licence, MOT, and car insurance are valid in the country that you’re driving in, and check if you need an international driving permit.”

If you’re thinking of driving abroad, make sure you check your car insurance policy and whether you’re covered. To be able to drive your friends and family's cars, make sure you have a multicar insurance policy and are named for the car you're driving.

Methodology & Sources