Driving Abroad Can be an Unusual Trip

We all learned to drive in slightly different ways. Many got their learner’s permit when they turned 16 while mom and dad spent time coaching from the passenger’s seat. Later, a driver’s education program had likely had them navigating orange cones at low speed in a high school parking lot. While that guidance taught many young drivers crucial lessons on how to become a good driver, the cost, education and tests necessary to get a license can vary greatly in other countries.

Driving in the Land of the Rising Sun

In densely populated countries like Japan, for example, getting a driver’s license can be an extremely costly process that also takes a considerable amount of time. You can start the process by enrolling somewhere like the Koyama Driving School. The school will simplify the process, but taking the class can also cost you close to 400,000 yen (about $4,800 USD). However, you can save more than half of that money by going through the process yourself.

If you decide that enrolling in a driving school is too expensive, you’ll start by getting your provisional driver’s license, which is like a learner’s permit in the United States. That means you’ll go to a test center to take written and practical tests, which a comprehensive driving course would allow you to bypass. After you pass those tests, you’ll need to practice driving with someone who has a full driver’s license.

Once you’ve jumped through these hoops, you’ll need to take a full theory test, followed by a practical road test with an examiner from a driving test center. Finally, you’ll be able to get your full driver’s license after you take a first aid course and a final driving theory course at a driving school. The process in Japan is certainly more costly and time consuming than it is in America, but Japan isn’t the only country that requires a stringent examination.

If You Want to Drive the Autobahn, You’ll Have to Study

When you think of driving in Germany, you might imagine yourself pushing the limits of an exotic sports car on the autobahn. But the fact is that when it comes to getting your license, Germany is one of the toughest countries in the world. Parents send their kids to a Fahrschule (driving school) in Germany, which guides them through the process.

After prospective drivers have completed driving school and a required first aid course, there’s a written test on traffic laws. Don’t worry, there’s a book to study from, Fahren lernen Lehrbuch, which lists all the possible questions and answers. The book is a vital part of the process, since the test has a high rate of failure. Just like the SATs, you’ll need to buckle down to make sure you get a good test score. If you fail three times, you have to go back to driving school and start all over.

To Get Licensed in India, You’ll Need a Guide

If you plan to drive in India, the first thing you’ll need to do is get your learner’s license (permit), which is a required step to getting your permanent license. You’ll start by going to the Regional Transport Office (RTO), where you’ll need to bring a number of documents with you. These include proof of age and residence, a declaration of medical fitness and two passport-sized photos. You’ll also pay a fee of about 60 rupees ($1.15 USD).

Not unlike the DMV in America, submitting this information at the RTO can be a time-consuming task. Some applicants say you can expect to spend a couple hours waiting in line to get your paperwork verified. Once that’s done, you’ll take a written learner’s test. If you pass, the RTO will issue your learner’s license, which is valid for six months. After you’ve got your learner’s license, you can enroll in a driving school, many of which charge you based on the type of car you wish to drive. Most driving schools provide eight lessons, which last about 15 minutes per day at a cost of roughly 2,700 to 3,000 rupees.

Once you’re versed in the rules of the road and have had your learner’s license at least 30 days, you’ll head back to the RTO and pay 390 rupees to take a driving test. If you pass, you’ll get your permanent driver’s license.

Regardless of where or how you learned to drive, we should all strive to keep the roads safe. The next time you get behind the wheel, remember that no matter how frustrating your last experience was at the DMV, it could be even more challenging in other parts of the world.