The Italian Driving License
Like many things in Italy, getting a license is not a walk in the park. Here is some basic informtion to get one started on the adventure ahead.
The Italian Driving License
Quite possibly, one of the subjects I have discussed the most or spoke to others about is the lovely and amazingly complicated task of getting a driving license in Italy. For those that do not know if you plan to stay in Italy for more than one year, you need an Italian license. As an American, the US driving license is not accepted here in Italy, this does not apply for european citizens.
I may or may not know others that have been living in Italy for several years and have not bothered to get one… Some will continue to get the AAA International License, which is basically the information on your driving license translated into other languages.
If you want to be legal about it all, after one year from the date of residency, one needs to go through the process of passing a 40 question theory exam, in Italian, with the allowance of four errors. After passing the theory, a mandatory number of hours with a driving instructor and then yes, another final driving exam.
Here are some things to know and some ways to save money.
- In Italy, the police randomly stop cars to check your documents. In seven years, I have been stopped about four times from what I can remember.
- The final theory test you will need to take is only in Italian, French, and German. Even if a “scuola guida” states they offer the tests in English, it does not change the fact that the “Motorization” (DMV in Italian) only provides the exam in these three languages. (I procrastinated thinking I could just take the exam in English until I found this out!)
- I recommend doing your theory test as a “privata” (private) and the practical with the school. If you do it this way, you will spend about 600 euros. If you do everything through a school, you can pay more than 1,000 euros.
Let’s go through this process as a private. I will break it down in steps.
- Get the Driver’s handbook that has the English/Italian version plus the book of practice exams. This will take about a week to arrive, or they might have it right there. You can buy this from any “scuola guida”. Tell them you will do the theory as a private; you need to purchase the books from them.
- Download the app to take a practice quiz. Just type in “Patenta Esame” it will give you the app. Take a quiz in Italian and see how you do. The exam is 40 questions, you can only make four errors. Based on your score and your Italian knowledge, you need to estimate how long you need to prepare for this exam. I had zero Italian when starting this process, it took me about six months to prepare. (I also had a small child at home) You should give two months for the paperwork and doctor visits. Once this is all done, you will have to wait about a month for the final theory exam.
- Go to the Motorization to get your forms and a list of all the documents that you need. You need to tell them that you are going to do the theory as a “privata.” Be prepared to make two or three trips to this office before you have everything in order.
- As part of the initial paperwork, you will need to go to the post office with some forms that they will give you. Keep all your receipts of payment!! As well you will need a “bollo” which you can get at a “tabacheria”.
- You need to see a doctor for the eye exam and health checkup. This is part of the paperwork you need to turn into the motorizzation to schedule a date for the theory test. I walked into an Optician office and asked them if they did the exam or knew where I could get one. Luckily there was a place right down the street. The doctor will come in at specific times, and you will be expected to pay about 60 euros.
- Once you have all of your paperwork in order, you can get back to the motorizzation and schedule your theory exam, average waiting time is about a month.
- Keep doing the practice quizzes until you are blue in the face. When you are consistently passing, then you are ready. Don’t bother with going to the actual exam if you are still flunking the practice exam. (That’s what I did and failed).
- On the day of your exam, be there on time. Don’t worry about showing up early. You will have to wait anyways as they usually are running behind. You don’t have to sign in anywhere, they will call your name at the “scheduled” time (both times I went I started the exam forty mins after the scheduled time), you will go into a room to do the test on a computer. Afterward if they sign your paper you passed, if they hand you another paper, you flunked. They are not too chatty there, so you have to ask if you passed or not.
- Once passed on the theory exam, you will have to go back in one week to get the pink paper, which is your permit to start the lessons at the driving school. The lessons are mandatory. Even if you know how to drive, you have to do them.
- The cheapest driving school that I found is in Curno. “Autoscuola Curno di Truconi Aldo.” Check around before you decide, everyone has different prices. Check three places first before picking a school to go to. Aldo is friendly and accommodating, he speaks very basic English. Don’t worry too much about the language if you can drive. There’s not that much to talk about. Plus, he will make himself understood.
- You will do more paperwork, bollos, and copies with the scuola guida, so be prepared for more paperwork. It will be more comfortable as they handle everything with the motorizzation, so it’s much less of a headache.
- Once you have done your required six hours, you will take your final practical exam at the motorizzation. Tell your school that you have something planned for work, so can you please be first. Otherwise, you will end up waiting for a bunch of teenagers to take their exams. The school will prepare you for what to expect from your examiner and how the day will go.
- Once you pass, you get your license that day, and you are finally done!!! Yay!!!
I recommend doing the theory as a “privata” as, from the school, I was signed up with, was going to charge me 100 euro for every time I needed to go to take the theory exam. If you arrange it yourself, you will just end up paying the different standard fees.
Additionally, when filling out the forms, make sure all the documents have the same names and cities on them if they all don’t match precisely, the DMV will make you go back and get the doctor or whomever to fix the form, so all the names and birth cities match precisely. This caused me headaches and others that I know well, so it deserves a special mention with the underline!!
I have never known anyone that said this is easy, I promise that there will be a lot of emotions. However, it is quite a feeling when it is all finally done.