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Getting a driving license in the EU

How to drive a car legally in Europe

Rules will vary for each country, but if you want a driving license in the EU and you are a non-EU citizen here are your general options.

This is a US and EU driver’s permit on the road, beep, beep.
  • If you have a driver’s license from any EEA/EU country you can drive anywhere in Europe.
  • If you have a US license you need an International drivers license which would accompany your US driver’s permit. No exam required, only a form/permit you can get at AAA and the National Automobile Club. This will be generally valid if you are on vacation or on a tourist visa. However, generally if you live in Europe for a year or more than you need to get a local permit.
  • If you are concerned about driving on the European road I recommend you get a learners permit. You need to pass the written test or the theoretical part to get a learner’s permit. This permit is good for two years and you can drive as long as there is another licensed driver in the passenger seat.
  • You can exchange your US driving license for an EU drivers license. You can surrender your US drivers license to the driving office in that country and just pass the written exam without the road test. The written exams for EU drivers licenses are low stress and you can study with a computer program, you just need to memorizes the rules. This is great as you do not need a road test to get a driver’s license in the EU (usually). But you will have to speak the language of the country enough to take the drivers test in the language of the country you reside in.

If you are clever you can get a Ukrainian drivers license or another country with a working partnership with the EU and exchange the permit for an EU one. Many Polish guys do this as they have these schools in say Lviv where you are ‘guaranteed’ to pass and they are only we weekend. If you want more information about this method leave a comment.

You can get more information about getting a permit to drive in Europe here and here for information on UK driving license.

The EU motor vehicle exam – is it hard?

The written exams can be passed by anyone, you just have to do the practice test. Further almost all countries offer them in English. Even if not you can figure it out if you do the exam books enough. I have taken so many standardized tests I can tell you they are all the same. I took insurance exams, stockbroker, financial advisor, real estate etc. A European driving exam is no different despite the horror stories you here. Two choices you can eliminate easily and two they try to trick you, you just have to determine what they are asking. They are testing a specific point, and usually guessing is not as good as knowing what they are looking for. My recommendation is do the practice tests over and over until you get over 90%. Then take the written EU exam. You can find these exams online or in a book form. In Poland I bought a book. However, recently when I passed my Real Estate exam I did an online course.

The road exam in Europe is brutal compared to the US exam. Plus in Eastern Europe they use a manual transmission. The road exam for a EU drivers license is notoriously hard. Natives will often fail five times. You can not do one little thing wrong; and it is illegal to bribe the examiner, which was the rule maybe ten years ago in many countries.So I recommend getting a learners permit.

After a driving school go here for the exam.

Getting deported for not having a Driver’s license in Europe

Most of my friends drove on their US license and played dumb when they got caught and most traffic police do not want to deal with an international incident (not really, it is more about paperwork) of giving a US citizen a ticket.  However, now the police are cracking down on foreigners driving in sincere there are a flood of people coming to Europe for a better economic life, many illegally and they will check your visa if caught.

Do not think you will not be stopped. You will eventually. I am an excellent driver and I was going a little over the limit and the police stopped me. They gave me a warning, thank God, but got me on something else, my insurance was expired. I had to go to DMV to prove it was not. This happened less than a Kilometer from my home. They will eventually stop you. So my warning is get a driver’s license, even if you do not have a perfect visa, figure out a way to get a driver’s permit, in some ways it is more important.

They will not deport you for not having a license but if your documents are not in order for a visa, they will, and this is one way Police and immigration will discover this. One American girl I know was deported when on a routine check they discovered she was there with no visa.

Our situation, is in Europe I studied for my Polish drivers test. In the US my wife who is from Poland does not have a US driver’s licenses yet although she has her EU one. We were thinking of getting her a learners permit which means she can drive anywhere as long as I am in the car.  After two years she will have no problem with the road exam. She can drive now but it is always stressful in a new country.  It is cheaper than taking a drivers school course.

EU driver’s license get a new look

There were over 100 variations in Europe for the actual drivers card. The European drivers licensees are now replacing the old style in Europe, because of uniformity. They have the EU flag in the upper left hand corner and the initial of the country. These now have microchips and 3D text, which are designed to counteract people who buy a fake EU drivers license. The European Economic Area has 300 million drivers and a lot of diversity even now there is a good risk of fraud with people who are looking to get a fake EU drivers license.

European nations have harmonized the laws regarding drivers regulations and testing. There are variances but they are going to make everything look the same.

A driving course to get a driver’s license in the EU is about 700 dollars and well worth the investment if you are going to hang around the EU. You can even get it in English, for a 20% premium.

By Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

117 replies on “Getting a driving license in the EU”

can i take the tese on online so i and see i pass it

It depends on what country you are taking your driver’s license in. There are many practice tests, but you have to know your country and look it up.

eudriverlicence.com

Has anyone heard of these guys – is this real or a scam??

I have a driving license from Vanuatu island I wish to convert this
into a Eu drivers license Vanuatu is a former British commonwealth
country and I have got an international drivers license now.

Please inform how to proceed.

Best regards
Jan Lundgren

How long have you been living in the EU and what is visa or EU passport do you have? Which EU country are you from as this makes a difference. You have to be a citizen or have a green card in most countries to convert your drivers license and of course live in the EU.

I am an Australian living in the u.k for an extended 6month holiday i have a learner licenses in Australia and would like to know how that would convert into a British system and if it was possible for me to get my full licenses.

Jack you can convert your Australian driving license if you are a legal resident not a vacationer and if you have a license not a permit and if you take a drivers test.

I have a UK driving license and want to change it to a Dutch driving since I will be living indefinitely here. Do I need to take the test and theory? Or is it jut the case of exchanging it?

You can use your UK driving license in the Netherlands for ten years because it is an EU country, other countries that are not in the EU like the USA you can use for six months, but double check when you get there.

Jack I have just been though this with the DVLA and actually applied for a UK provisional licence, equivelent of learner licence of Australia.
Answer no they won’t give you a Uk Provissional unless you have been a resident 185 days on english land with proper address. So even if you are working in the uk on a Visa you still are not a resident.

I actually lost money on the $100 AUD I spent on my credit card when I finally got a refund on the application.

Germany won’t recognise any non EU european union licence at all, retesting and a expensive exercise I still haven found a Country that will even consider it

I want to come to the UK next year 2010 and have a eu driving licence and drive , but so far no country will allow a non european to get a Drivers licence.

i am still lokking and trying

So answer yes you can come to the uk and be a torist and not work and not drive, or you can come to the uk be a redident for 185 days work but not have a drivers licence, then after 185 days you can apply for a Learner licence, Provisional, Brillant, what do we have in australia drivers from all diferent country driving on our roads with no licences at all, but we arn’t allowed top drive in the UK

Hi all,
I am an Indian having an Indian driving licence.What are the possibilities to get a EU driving licence?

Thanks

If you have legal residence in the EU , such as citizenship or green card and you want to take the driving exam then there is no reason you can not get one. But to have one, just to have one makes no sense if you have an Indian drivers license.

I am Australian citizen and coming to Poland. What is the procedure for getting Polish driving licence.

You can take the written test in English to get a drivers license, however, you have to give up your Australian drivers license. Or you cold take the written and road exam and not have to give up your Australian divers license. Or you can just drive on your Australian drivers license as Poland and Australia have a treaty, like an international drivers license treaty. Or you can go to Ukraine get a Ukrainian drivers license and convert it to Polish for a small fee. The reason people do this is the Polish road test is very hard.
I would use my Australian license unless you are going to live in the EU long term.

Hi I am a dual citizen of Australia and Italy. I have Italian citizenship and passport. I also have Australian citizenship and passport.I reside in Australia and have a full Australian drivers license.
I want to obtain an EU drivers license or an Italian drivers license while I go over there.
what is the procedure to do this?
your help is greatly appreciated.

If you do not want to trade in your Australian divers license you need to get a learners permit and take a written and road exam like everyone else. Every city has a motor vehicles office, just got there and start the paper work.

I am an Australian with legality in Spain as I’m married to a Spanish girl,I have had an Aussie License for car and motorbike for 15 years, do i really have to give up my oz License to obtain a Spanish one? I’m happy to take a written exam but don’t want to take a driving one as they drive on other side of the road and i know how hard civil servants are on foreigners here, it’s certain that I’ll fail 3 or 4 times just cause I have an accent.

You can take the test in a village where they have a different view of foreigners. Look all over Spain for the right place to take the test. In college my friends would always sign up with the easiest teachers, and they got As in school without trying. Do the same in Spain. Also double check Spanish law as it might be different than I stated slightly. Some people in Poland go to Lviv, Ukraine and they get their drivers licenses for about 300 USD (they take a course) and its a full normal driving license – and after you pay the money you will pass the test. Then for about 20 Euro they convert it to a EU drivers license.

Hi

Do you know the situation for Australians in Austria?

I have recently moved to Austria and whilst I know in Germany I would be required to retake both the written and practical exams if I wanted to drive after 6 months, is this the same for Austria?
I can’t seem to find anything on the net..I wondered if they might have an license exchange, I have no issue with giving up my Australian license if so…

I think it is the same, but I do not know specifically. If you are staying just for a few months then, no need to give it up use your Australian license, but if you are staying for several years then you might want to switch. You can generally drive with your home countries license for a while, and even after that if you get stopped I know a lot of people who play naive.

eudriverlicence.com scam
along with drivingliberty.com/eu/en/index.html again SCAM

They take you money and then you hear nothing

I need a european driving licence to drive and work in europe
B, C1, C

This is from the DVLA website

you will not be able to drive a lorry, minibus or bus in Great Britain (GB) if you have a full, valid driving licence from a Designated Country

you can drive a car and or motorcycle, provided your licence remains, valid for up to 12 months from the day you become resident in GB

you can exchange your car or motorcycle licence for a British one, but if you haven’t exchanged it before the end of the 12 months, you will need to stop driving

Hi Mark Biernat,

I have an Ukrainan driving licence but I dont live in poland. Also, I dont live in Ukraine. Currently I live in the UK. Would it be possible to change it to any Europenian countries driving licence? I asked Polish authority and they said that I have to live in Poland for 185 days. So I can not do that. What can I do to change my Ukrainan license to any Europian or EEC country without living there? Thanks.

You have to live legally in the country you want the drivers license for 180 days in most countries. I may be wrong but this is usually the case. You could take the full exam and get a licences but it cost more and is hard.

I have friends in different parts from Europe, is it possible that I say that I have been living for more than 180 days in the place of one of them?, the invoices of electricity or water of course are not gonna be at my name, but usually is always at one name all the bills, being that lives more people.

You can do whatever you like but I would just be honest as really people check things. I remember the police checked my neighbors and everything. But it is your choice.

I have Bulgarian driving license, and i want to exchange it for an UK one. I heard that i must show DVLA some proof of address in order to apply for UK license. What this this mean? Phone bill, or rent bill to my name on UK address?
Thank you

I think drivers license can be proven by wage and address statements. Anything that has legal weight, not simply a note. What is your resident address and are you paying bills from that address is the question.

What proof do the UK need of living there for the 185 days in order to change my Australian license over to a UK one. I have a full Australian license not a provisional one. Thanks

I think it will be no problem if you have passport stamps or mail comming to your home or even paychecks or school registration. There are many things that will prove this. You just need paper documents. I think your passport is a good start to get proof of residence for your UK driving license.

Thanks Mark, I will really have to look into it, as I have come and gone in and out of UK for the past 5 years, have done contract work, and think I was paid direct deposit into my bank account. Share the place that I live in and therefore have paid cash for bills. Has anyone contacted the DVLA to find out exactly what they require.Cheers and thanks

You need something on paper to show you lived in the UK. I would try to contact them and I am curious of your result, if you find the information out could you write it here?

Thanks Mark will do. Also wonder what they require in Poland for me convert over there from full Australian license. Do I have to prove I have lived there for 185 days also.

Does anyone know

Cheers And thanks

In Poland you need a Dowód Osobisty card or something like that for a visa holder. Why? You can only live in Poland for 3 months with no visa. After that you have to leave the EU. Therefore, they will require you Polish ID card to get a drivers license in Poland. If you are an Australian citizen you can use that for a while under and international drivers license. Why all these question about changing your drivers license are you living legally in the EU for a year or so?

I am an American with a US driving license married to a Dutch woman and have lived in Holland for 20 years. I now need to get a Dutch drivers license. The course and test are over 1000 euros. Is there any lesser course to take to get the license? Thanks in advance for your answer.

I think that is about that it cost to get a drivers license as the course are not free. Do you want to work for free? However, the good news is I think you can trade you US drivers license in for a Dutch one and just take the written test. It should not be that expensive.

I’m an American that has been living in the UK for 4 years. I drove for the 1st year that I was here on my American license and then stopped cause the law is that you have to get a UK license and that means taking written and practical tests and learning the maneuvers and doing exactly what they want would be hard and expensive. I am now married to a Polish guy and have permanent residence here in the UK. Is it possible for me to get a Polish one? Or one from any country? I do not want to have to go through the process of lessons and tests.

If you have a Polish visa, in Poland you can give up your American drivers license and take written test in English. Or you can go to Lviv Ukraine pay for a course and you will pass it and get a Ukrainian drivers license and then trade it in for a Polish one.
My brother and his family all passed the UK drivers test and it was very hard so I know where you are coming from. See if you can trade in your American license in the UK like you can in Poland. If you can do that, an if you go back to the USA it is very easy to get a US drivers license as you and I both know.

Let me know how you do with all this as I have the intention of trading in my American drivers license for a Polish one as I live in the EU now.

Hi, I have an American Texas driving license and I live in Spain (recently has become a resident). Is there anyway that I can convert my Texas license to Spanish one? Is there any agreement between The State of Texas and Spain? If I do need to have the Theory test, is there anywhere in Spain that I could do it in English? I just can’t believe that after so many years of driving I might have to go through it all again. Please any advise

No agreement with Texas or the USA but basically most countries allow you to trade in your drivers license for a written test. In Spain you have to take the test in Spanish and you can not trade in your license as I understand it. But Spanish is a very easy language. It should only take a few months of hard study.
I think driving a stick rather than an automatic is a concern. Living in the Poland I dislike driving a manual as I was raised on an automatic, however, its easy now (but I do not like it). But if you can take the test with an automatic I think the only issue is the language. But you can do it.

Hello,
I am a Swedish citizen but since 5 years back I live and work in the US (Pennsylvania). I am currently in the process of getting a job in Germany.

My question is do I need to change my PA license with a German license or can I drive with the US license for a extended time.

Also, if I would change the license would all the levels be transfered (Car and Motorcycle). If not is there a way of maybe getting this done in a different EU country.

I just do not want to spend 2000+ eur to get the motorcycle license again. But if I can drive with my american license for a while that would be ok.

Thank you.

In my personal experience if you have an American drivers license the police in Europe are very lax about inforcing any law on the books. However, if you are an EU citizen, living in the EU, you can also drive of course on your Swedish license if you have one.
But the reality is I think after about a year you should get a German license, but six months or less I think you do not need one, so it depends on how long you will live in Germany. Many of my friends just use their US license, however, this is not by the book.
Another alternative is some Germans go to Poland or even Ukraine and get a cheaper driver’s licence and then then trade it in for a German.

I have a US driver license (Florida isued) and live in Spain. I hold dual citizenship US/Spanish. What are my chances of getting a Spanish (or any EU license for that matter) without having to take any written or practical tests? Are there any other countries in Europe which allow you to exchange/convert your US license for a national one? I honestly refuse to go through the driving school here and pay a ridiculous amount of money for a license. In fact, since I already hold a US license, I am guaranteed that I will fail the test at least 4-5 times. Thats the way it is here.

You have to take a drivers test in every country I know in the EU without exception. The USA is the same way. However, I think you can somehow take a test in Ukraine and it is cheaper and easier than you can trade it in for an EU license, however, call the office in Spain, Poland has a law like this.

Help! I am 16.5 years old living in Adelaide and just passed the Australian driving test. I am moving to UK in the next few months. Can I use my Aussie license to drive in the UK, and can I get a UK license without taking another test.

If you are going to live in the UK with a legal residence for over a year you should get a UK driving license. Its the rule, however, if you are going to live there for 184 days, you do not need one. To get one, simply take the written test and they send your Ausie license back to Australia. Or you can take the driving and the written and keep your Austrailian driving license.

Hi if I exchange my UK licence for a Spainish one do they inform the DVLA?

If you apply for a new one in Spain no, you can have two driver’s licenses. If you exchange your UK drivers license for a Spanish one, they take the license and send it back to the UK to the issuing authority. This is my understanding.

How can I obtain a EU or UK driving license for b class and then get entitlements to learn C1 and c class While I am a visitor to the European Union.

I have a drivers license Australian (Queensland) C class (vehicles up to 4.5 ton)I need a c1 license 3.5 ton to 7.5 ton then a HGV how can I get this.

I am not prepared to surrender my Australian license
There has to me a way and mutual respect give to a native country drivers license.

I wish I knew. But if you do not want to surrender your drivers license to the EU country in question, then the only way to get a license is to take the full written and road test. There is no other way that I know. There are no upgrades between classes nor simply respecting other drivers licenses that are not EU. You can drive while visiting for a short time on an international drivers license.
But when a country issues a drivers license it is considered a privilege not a right under the law.

need some advise.
I am german citizen have a full licence since 1984, after i moved to London in 1999 i exchanged my german licence in 2000 and got a UK one.
After 5 years living in London i moved to Northern Ireland as Northern Ireland is part of the UK i didn’t bother to change my Licence again.
Now i lost my Licence (someone broke into my car where i kept it) I wrote to the DVLNI and ask for replacement, i have been told they have no record of me !!?? I then wrote to the DVL in England and have been told that i have to apply in Northern ireland for replacement as i am now resident here.
All i have is just a copy of my old German Licence which i made before i changed it. How do i get a new Licence ??

I am sorry for all the trouble you had but I think if you live in Northern Ireland this is where you need to apply. However, they do have a record of you. 100% there is no way they do not. Go to an office in person. I can not believe it.

Why not apply for a provisional UK license,(you don’t need to pass a test for this just fill in an application form in N. Ireland where you are, that way you are in the system and not driving without a license entirely. Do this while the dvla take a closer look at their records. If you are stopped without a license than your insurance is not valid so it is a big mess legally. The penalty is high for this, and could get a prison term.

Wow – I contacted DVA in Northern Ireland regarding my lost DL and it seems like I am not registered ? even I exchanged my German licence to a GB one (i thought NI is part of UK) and therefore they should have my records on file. Germany can’t help me as well as i am NOT resident in Germany anymore and i changed my DL years ago. GB wont help me because i live in NI, so what should i do ? All i have is just a copy from my original (old) German DL lets see what happen if i got stopped by Police?
Looking NOT forward to this

Easy take a drivers test in the place where you live. I have to take one in Poland even thought I have been driving in the USA for many years.
Ride a bike or a scooter to work. I have not had a car for many years, I sold it when I lived in Boston and have not regretted it. Now I live in Europe and it is easier to not have a car as there are trains and trams that go everywhere.

I an an American and have lived in Krakow for several years as well, and have recently moved to Malta.

1. I appreciate all your posts, the info on this page has saved me a lot of time and Money,

2. Your 100% right about the Public transportation in europe being so much better than the US. I didnt even bother having a car in Poland, but in Malta it’s almost mandatory.

Anyway, Just wanted to say thanx.

Chad, thanks, Krakow is really a great place to live and me not having a car, even with a family is very nice. A car is nothing but a depreciating asset. Money out the window. Further, public transport is getting better and better in Euope as there are a lot of EU plans to expand it.

We briefly had a car but sold it as it took twice as long to go thought the narrow streets and find parking as just hopping on a tram to the center.

Further, cars pollute a lot more than electric trollies, on which I can read a book.

In the USA in many places a car is a must.

I hope you are enjoying the warm sunny island of Malta. Wil you come back to Krakow or are you there for good?

I live in the Cayman Island and Have a CI Driving ?Licence. Can I drive on this when visiting UK

I think yes, you can even get an International drivers license to make it official for like 10 dollars.

I am from India and been a resident in germany for more than little over 6 months.I have my Indian Driving licence and International Driving permit. Can I drive in Germany without a German driving licence? Will that be a problem if I am stopped by the Police on the road?

I think up to a year it is OK, but you have to check as the Germans are really legalistic. In other European countries they do not care that much as long as you have some drivers license.

Hi, Am in Indian currently residing in Poland with a residence permit. Do I need to get a Polish Driving license or can I use my Indian Driving Licence +IDL.

I think legally you need to eventually get a Polish drivers license if it is over a year. But many people do not and just drive on their current license.

Easy Take a Driving test WHY

If you are licensed in one country You should be licensed in another and therefore able to do a drivers licence exchange

This UK 185 days residency is for the governments DMV.
Money making Scam by the governments

HI,

I am a Hungarian citizen, now a resident in Belgium. I have my normal driving license – B – but during the summer period I passed my exam for a motorcycle – A. However, in Hungary they do not issue my driving license, since I am not a resident any more. Can I ask The Belgian authorities to do it for me, since Hungary is a full member of the Eu now?

thanks
ildiko

I do not know the rules in this case but if you find out let me know. If you are are have a valid EU license it is valid all over the EU. In regards to residency I think if you live for a long time in one country you might wan to get a license in your country of residence, or should in theory but in practice I do not know anyone that does. They use their old license as long as it is valid and not expired.

Hi

I have been residing in Finland, and i have an international permit (with a non Eu national DL). But i need to obtain an EU DL for Im settling in. But its a fortune to get it in Finland ( the exam) can i do the examination in any other EU country that wouldn’t cost as much?

If I have a US driving License, and living as a full time student in UK for a year and driving for the entire year, can I exchange my US driving license for UK license?

I think yes, no problem but you might need to take the written test. My brother’s family lived in the UK and all took the UK driving test and they said it was hard by the way.

Mark, I also live in Poland and I am brazilian. You mention that my international driving license is valid just for one year. But does this one year period get renewed when I leave the country for a given period (let’s say two months) and entry in Poland again? Thanks for your answer and all the blog posts here!

I think you would be OK. I personally and others have driven like this. The law is unclear when it comes to practice. If you get a violation they might tell you, you should get a Polish licences but that is it.
If you want to get technical, if you are living legally and as your home, based on your visa status you can change your Brazilan license for like 75 pln after you pass only the written test.
Some people get a Ukrainian licenses in a ‘special course’ in Lvov and then change it in so they do not lose their country’s licenses. You could take the road test but you do not want to do that. It is a pain.
The written can be taken in many languages and you can even use a translator, who might know the examin, hint, hint.
But I believe just study and in a week or you can pass the written with a computer program. They even have 3d ones where you drive about Poland.

Your welcome. I think the best is to keep your Brazilian if you are in Poland for only a year or so. However, if you are here for the long-term, trade it in for a Polish driver’s licences or take a ‘special drivers course in Ukraine’, I even hear they have a 100% pass rate. You can read about it, they are real courses.

I am a resident of the Netherlands with USA Driving License. I came accross an agent in the internet call and they promissed they can change my foreign drivers license into an EU drivers License(Poland,Hungary or Cyprus etc) for the cost of 400 Euro. Mark, please, may I know if this is true? or they are just trying to steal money?

Thanks.

I do not believe it, at least not legally. Why? I live in Poland and I am an US citizen with an US driver license. What you have to do is take a test of Polish driving laws and then you have to get a medical exam and one more thing, you must have a visa status in Poland. My visa status is I am a Polish citizen. If you do not have a status in any of these countries it is not possible.
They would have to explain to be how they get around the law before I give them money. I know that Poles go to Ukraine and get a driver’s license and exchange this for a Polish one, but this is a different story.

I can not comment on the Netherlands, but I converted a US licence to a German one without any issues at all.
I think that what this “agent” is referring to is dealing with all the paper work that goes with it.
The main thing that you need to do is to get an official translation of your drivers licence and give this with the original licence to the traffic department.
Check the internet, but many US states have what are called receprical agreement, this means that one government recognizes the validity of the others licence.
The whole process is quite painless, and takes just a couple of weeks to complete.

I have a Ukrainian drivers license and I am relocating to Poland to live with my wife,how long can I use my Ukrainian drivers license in Poland? Do I need to get a Polish license or my Ukrainian one is valid for long time in Poland.

You can use it for like 6 months but do not quote me. Then with a Ukrainian license you can just convert it for Polish drivers license for like 50 pln after you pass a Polish written test.

Can you advise please about converting Ukraine licence to Polish one?

Hi Mark,

I have a question about getting a Dutch drivers license. I’m a dual citizen (Australia and the Netherlands) and have only been living here in the Netherlands for a few months but desperately need a Dutch license. Can I exchange my Australian License for a Dutch License without doing the practical exam and only the theoretical part? I understand from your earlier posts that this seems possible with an American in the same position. Thanks Mark.

I think Australia and The Netherlands do not have an agreement so you will have to take a Dutch road, test, written test and get a statement of health. At least this is my understanding of Dutch law, maybe I am wrong. But if you live for more than six months in Holland and you want to dive this is what you have to do.
I wish I could tell you better news and if you are clever there are legal ways to make it easier.

Hi Mark,

My partner, who is an American, has been living in the Netherlands for over 10 years and has never exchanged his Florida DL for a Dutch one. He tried the test and failed due to foolish reasons (as is the case with everyone). He apparently was told that as long as he doesn’t own a car that he can continue to use his American license. This strikes me as very odd as everyone else that I know has had to “convert” their licenses within 185 days of living here. Do you know what the real story is?

Thanks!

The real story is legally if he wants to drive he needs to convert it or take a road test and hold both. Look I understand what he feels, that is he does not want to give up his US. So I would recommend keep trying and not get frustrated as these European drivers tests are harder than American ones and many people take it like five times or more. I know one girl who took it seven times.
My friends who are Americans just use their US drivers licenses if they drive from time to time and if they get caught they ‘play dumb’ to the police. Since they are American they get away with a lot believe me. They have never had a problem. So if you want to follow the letter of the law, he needs a Dutch one, but he has gotten away with it for a long time, and that is evidence to the contrary. But have he keep trying to get one if he intends to stay and live in the EU.

I have seen that Spain does not have an agreement with America (PA particularly), but have seen that France and Germany do. I live in Spain and am a resident here. I have been driving and living here for 3 yrs (illegal I know), and am starting to feel like I am pushing my luck. But I am 36 yrs old and have been driving for 20 yrs, the thought of having to pay nearly 1000€ and maybe not pass the tests makes my stomach turn. It is possible to obtain a French or German licence by exchange (I plan to stay here, so I don’t care to give up my US licence) even though I live in Spain (maybe I could go on vacation there for a week?) Or do you have any other options. I am getting desperate.

If you plan to live there why not convert it? I was about to do this in Poland but the last-minute am moving back to the USA after about 8 years.
I am 48 and have no problem taking a drivers test. I do not care it is fun. But on the other hand, I understand about the 1000 Euro and I understand that some European tests are too hard. So look at every option. I do not have the answer for you. I do know Polish guys go to Ukraine for the weekend and pay for a driver school and come back with a Ukrainian driver’s license which they can legally change for about 12 dollars for a Polish EU one. It is all legal and a loophole. I would look for special cases like this in the Spanish law as I am sure there are clever people who know ways around it. I believe in legal loopholes. Poles are masters at this, but I think the Spanish have people in the know about this type of thing also. I mean from my understanding you pay something to the Ukrainian driver’s school and they make sure you pass. But on the other hand Poland has a social treaty with Ukraine because of the proximity. But I am sure Spain has something. Maybe with the Philippines for example and you could do it by mail? As long as it is all legal.
The USA is so easy to get a driver’s license that I would not worry about surrendering my US license if you do not want to take the road test.
If you are worried about driving a stick, it is easy, just take a class if you need to.

Hi Mark
I am a Canadian citizen from Ontario and have applied to live in the Netherlands. I know I will have to get a Netherlands Drivers License within 185 days after I live here. If I would have lived in the province of Quebec I could just get it transfered. I have driven with a clear driving record for 39 years. Could I give up my Ontario License and just do the written test here in the Netherlands or will I have to do the written and driving test. Thanks

Québec is no problem as you know. However, since you are not from Quebec or the EU, you have to go to Dutch Drivers license must be initiated at the Gemeentehuis [City Hall] and do the whole nine yards. I am sorry it is no fun, but unless I read the law wrong, I think this is the rule. But if you go to a drivers school can not imagine it would be a problem. I just bought a book with all the practice exams.

You have to take both the written and driving test if you are a US citizen.

Not true at all. Most EU countries have a treaty with the USA. All you need to do is take the written and give them your US driver’s licences. I am a dual EU and US citizen and been though this many times. You can have the option to do both but it depends on you. You will retain your US state driver’s licenses if you do.

I am also a dual EU and US (from one of the 14 reciprocity treaty US states) national, and I need to trade my US licence for an EU, but some EU counties have a new law that I must have had that “license issued on behalf of the (US)State in question, while you had your normal residence (more than 6 months in a row) in this specific country”. I think this means I would need to prove I’ve lived in the US lately, which I haven’t. Are there any EU countries where this isn’t stipulated for direct exchange?

I wouldn’t mind getting the name of one of those Ukrainian schools if this isn’t possible.

Hi Mark,

I just found your site when searching for EU driving licences.
I would like to know if you can help with a question.
I live in the UK for some years and I hold a Brazilian driving licence. I failed UK road test three times. I gave up. It is so expensive and time-consuming. You mentioned about getting a Ukrainian driving licence and then exchanging for a Polish one. If I do that, can I exchange the Polish one for a UK one ? Do I need to reside in Poland in order to exchange the Ukrainian Driving license ?

Thanks a lot,

Marcello

I am with you. Those European road tests are impossible and I do not think the roads are any safer. I know Poland has a huge problem with highway accidents and their road test is hard to say the least. People gt in accidents mostly because they get lose focus for a second and miscalculates stop times or dilute their awareness not crossing the ‘I’ and dotting the ‘T’. on their road test. That being said Poles do this but you need to have a Polish resident status to get a Polish driver licences. I am sure there are ways around it.

I’m a Turkish citizen holding a Montana drivers licence since 2004 and driving in Poland with my licence since 2006..
My license expires on the 2nd of may but as you know the American way of it which appears on my license looks like 02/05/2012 and unfortunately it means 5th of february in Poland.
My question is about if I got a chance to exchange the American one to a Polish one even though I m not an American citizen and the exchanging process of it.. Do you think I may be able to make it in 4 months?
How does it work? I just go to an urzad and apply for a test and right after passing it do my files sent to mt and get checked by montana DMV if it s real or how?
I had that `playing dumb` thing till now but now it gets serious and i dont have no clue about what to do.

They know about the dates so that is not the issue. The issue is can you pass the Polish drivers test which is written. You can practice online or buy a book in Empik. I think you can do it but you have study and learn by heart all the questions as they are tricky, not like the US drivers test.

Passing a driver´s test in the EU is one of hardest things I can think off. I study at collage in Sweden and have great grades but passing the driver´s test has proven to be the hardest thing I´ve ever tried to do! You need to take a theory test consisting of 65 questions, you need 52 to pass. Now the questions are very hard, very hard. The questions are so complicated to the point where it feels like they want you to fail.

After passing that you do the practical test which costs $150 (converted from swedish crowns)each time. Now this is the hardest part for many, it is not uncommon to fail even 5 or 6 times! They just have too strong demands for something as vitial as a driver´s licence. I´ve passed the theory part and am trying to pass the actual driving, failed at it twice already. I know how to drive but they want you to be perfect in every regards as a driver. Sweden is a great country to study in but getting your licence here is awful!

It is cruel they make it so hard to pass the drivers test. I know people who have taken it seven times. I do not think it makes the roads safer, statistically in the US the states that are easy have no different accident records. Rather I think it is a way to generate revenue.
What about finding a way around the system. Many Polish people take it in Lviv Ukraine then convert the license to a Polish one. It is all a legal loophole. But do not give up.

Hi Mark,

I am already living in London on a UK Visa I have my Australian drivers license. Many European countries require a IDP now for hiring cars.

How do I obtain an International Drivers Permit?

Thanks

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