Driving tests from around the world

Curious about driving test from around the world? Find out what other countries expect from learner drivers and what you’ll need to do if you’re a UK driver planning to hit the road abroad

Written by Verity Hogan
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If you’ve ever sweated nervously while navigating your three-point turn or held your breath while clicking on hazard perception, you won’t be surprised to hear that the UK has one of the world’s toughest driving tests. But that doesn’t mean other countries have it easy! Driving might be a universal skill, but international driving tests can vary a lot.

Driving tests from around the world: the differences

Both the practical and theory elements of a driving test vary a lot depending on the country you’re learning in. Spain, for example, has a highway code that’s about three times longer than the UK’s, while Lithuanian law mandates that video surveillance watches over every exam vehicle. But if you want to avoid driving tests altogether, you might want to make a move to Mexico. In Mexico City you’re not legally required to take any theory or practical driving tests. All you need to do is sign a document confirming that you can drive and you’re good to go!


Driving test medicals

For UK driving tests, you don’t need to take a medical exam to get your driving licence, but this is a legal requirement in at least 21 different countries. In Brazil, you’ll need to pass a psychological behaviour exam before being let loose on the road; in Cameroon, new drivers have to get a mental and physical fitness certificate from a qualified doctor; and in Thailand, you’re required to take a peripheral vision and colour blindness test before getting your licence.

Do you need an international driving permit?

While the pandemic might mean international travel is a distant dream for the moment, hopefully international road trips will be back on the agenda soon. So, if you are thinking of driving abroad at some point, you’ll want to check whether you need an international driving permit (IDP) or not.

You’ll need an IDP to drive in most countries in the world

An IDP is a requirement in many countries but you won’t need one if you’re driving in an EU member state, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, or Liechtenstein. The only exception is if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man or you have a paper driving licence.

Fortunately, an IDP won’t set you back too much. If you’re a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland, are at least 18 years old and have a full driving licence, you can get one over the counter at the Post Office for just £5.50.

How long does an IDP last?

This all depends on which one you get. A 1926 or 1949 permit is valid for 12 months, but the 1968 permit is valid for three years of until your UK driving licence expires (whichever is sooner).

Verity Hogan

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