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We’ve covered plenty of different topics when it comes to vehicles, from new technologies to classic restoration and everything in between, Whether you love off-road trucks or track ready racers, one thing unites every auto enthusiast, the need for a driver’s license. Reading this, it’s likely you are in Canada or the United States, and these countries share similar methods for licensing their drivers. Both require learners permits (referred to as G1 or G2 licenses in Canada) and driving with a fully licensed driver before being able to drive on their own. Does every other country operate the same way? Today we’ll look at global procedures for getting ready to hit the open road.

For the sake of keeping it simple, we’ll look at what it takes to get a license to operate a regular passenger vehicle. Licensing for commercial or special vehicles are even more unique to each country, and vary on they type of vehicle, the intended use, etc. What we are looking at is what it takes for a fellow enthusiast to get behind the wheel and drive.
Europe

EU License

Prior to 2013, over 110 different licenses were given out in the EU and other areas, depending on which country you lived in. In 2013 legislation passed that allowed for a single license to be granted across the EU and surrounding area. This means that someone living in the UK will receive the same license as someone living in Germany or Norway. This standardized system is said to eliminate fraud and allows for a faster transition between borders.

The European Driver’s License is one of the most similar to what we have in North America, but slightly more strict. Young drivers will first receive their “B” license when applying over the age of 18. At this stage, all young drivers must attend first aid courses and an eyesight test, to be ready to act should they find themselves in an accident. Upon passing a basic theoretical exam, young drivers will receive their “B” license, which is valid for 2 years. This license allows young people to drive a vehicle, but only when accompanied by someone 23 or older who has a license for at least 3 years. Before attending a road test, young drivers in the EU must also take a 10 hour course on road traffic.

After the theoretical and practical exams have passed, drivers receive a conditional license to drive on their own. This includes a probationary period of 3 years. If the driver is not responsible for any major traffic violations after these 3 years, and attends an additional 2 days of driver training, then a full unrestricted license can be granted.
Japan

While most countries have developed a system of tiered licensing, Japan is important as it points out how different this legislation can be. Most countries will allow you to convert an existing foreign drivers license into a domestic one, with an expedited set of testing. Statistically, Americans have had a 35% success rate in passing this exam. Japan has a much higher population density than the US, meaning major urban centres will be much more populated and infrastructure will be more intensive. Where foreigners normally fail the Japanese driving test is during the practical exam.

The fee for an English speaking driver to become licensed in Japan is roughly $4000, more expensive than many peoples first cars. Despite the high foreign failure rate, the standard licensing procedure involves a basic part theory, part practical exam, which is far less intensive than that of the EU. Foreigners who opt instead to simply be licensed new rather than convert their license have a 90-100% success rate.

Russian Meteor

As with most developed countries, Russia also uses the same tiered system with practical and theoretical exams. Russia is unique in that it was one of the first countries in the world to offer driver’s licenses in 1900, eight years before the Ford Model T appeared.

Russia’s license structure is nearly identical to the EU’s with the exception of one major caveat, the banning of people with certain “conditions” from holding a license. While the report has gone around that transgendered people were banned from driving in Russia, this was later found to be a hoax. Other medical conditions or disorders, such as gambling addictions, do meet Russia’s criteria for banned disorders to get behind the wheel.

For fans of viral videos, it may seem that the majority of dashcam videos, such as the dozens of cameras that captured a falling meteor in 2013, are Russian. While not required to obtain a license, the majority of Russians feel it completely necessary for everyday driving. With the high amount of insurance fraud and dangerous roads, dashcams provide peace of mind for Russian drivers.

License To Thrill

The list could go on with developed countries, but the fact is most are very similar with tiered licenses combined with theoretical and practical exams. Not all countries offer this system however, and in many places it is much, much easier to receive a drivers license.

Egypt

With bustling markets and ancient wonders of the world, Egypt has so much more to offer than getting stuck in traffic. Perhaps that’s why the driver’s exam is so simple. In about two hours, you can become fully licensed in Egypt. Applicants can opt to skip the theoretical exam, and jump straight into the practical. This exam consists of driving a vehicle forwards for about 15 metres, then in reverse for the same distance. If you’re 18 and have $50, you can get licensed in Egypt. There have been reports that Egypt along with India (who has a similar set of licensing rules) plans to overhaul their licensing system to reflect the country’s growth.

Pakistan

For $1 and a short road course created with pylons, you can have a license in Pakistan. After 42 days, you can upgrade to a permanent license. This blogger wishes he had more content to put here, but it’s really that simple. For less than the price of a cheeseburger, you can be driving in Pakistan.
Less Reputable Countries

It might seem that Egypt and Pakistan have it easy, but there is still a basic practical test required. In some countries in the world, no practical test is needed. A simple bribe to the right person can result in becoming licensed. This results in children as young as 12 driving their parents vehicles without any training whatsoever.

Driving A Passion

it may seem like the places that offer quick, easy solutions to getting a license need to be overhauled, but that may not really be the case. The US Interstate Highway System is considered to be a modern wonder of the world, and we take for granted just how much driving we do in North America compared to the rest of the world. Some places don’t have strict driving rules because not enough people can be bothered to do it. The love of cars tends to outweigh the love of driving in many places. Fortunately, we can enjoy both with clear skies and open roads.

We have tons of helpful tips on our blog, be sure to give them a read!