WHAT??? Win an Italian Driver’s License? Is there some kind of lottery in Italy for getting the Italian driver’s license?
I know, these may be the exact line of thoughts right now running in your mind, Correct?
Yes, it is almost like a lottery, the race. And you will agree on this once you get into this phase of getting the Italian driver’s license.
Patente, or Italian driver’s license is one of the many ghosts that haunt the foreigners on Italian soil, especially the ones from non-EU countries.
Add to that, the theory exams for the driving tests are NOT available in English. You need to take those tests in the Italian language.
So, this guide is to help you understand the behind the scenes and motivate you to take the exam, and finally win your Italian driver’s license!
Be aware of the Law
If you are in the main cities like Milan, Public transport systems are very good and you can very well manage without your car.
But if you want to explore the Italian village and towns, then you definitely need a car. If you are those who came from the other countries in EU, you are lucky. You can simply exchange your license for the Italian one.
In case you are one of those unlucky souls like me, who came from non-EU countries – welcome to the new struggle. As per Italian law of the land, you are allowed to drive in Italy with your home country driver’s license for the first year of your relocation.
And this one-year relaxation is given for you to be proficient in Italian and manage to get the Italian driver’s license. So, it is more of a buffer time for you to get yourselves equipped with the required license.
“Oh, I heard from my friend that he/she is driving in Italy for more than a year now with their home country license?” Is this what you say?
Let me make one thing clear. You may come across many people on the social media groups and forums who claim to be driving more than a year in Italy with their home country license. But just because they have been lucky of not being caught does not mean you can do the same.
Autoscuola, Your Friendly Neighbour
First and foremost, believe that you can make it. And I will summarize the procedures and also the tips & tricks which worked for me. Follow it, enhance it, and continue your sincere efforts to get your Italian Driver’s license.
For people like us who relocated to Italy, there are actually two parts to getting the Italian driver’s license.
- Getting to know the basic Italian language
- Learning the lessons for the Driver’s test
To get to know the basic Italian language, there is plenty of non-profit organization that conducts such classes. Also, there are many classes been conducted by the respective Comune themselves which are totally free. Get yourselves registered and follow their sessions to learn basic Italian.
Next is to learn the driving lessons and approach the Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile for taking your tests. Pass the exam and get the driver’s license. And it may cost a lot lesser than going through Autoscuola to get your license. But by now I am sure you are familiar with the Italian bureaucracy.
So, most people, including the locals, go through the “Autoscuola” or the driving school for getting their driver’s license. It will cost around 600 euros for the regular driver’s lesson. And if you are very new to driving and need additional hours of driving, then each additional hour will cost you around 30 euros.
For sure, it is expensive, but that is how it works. Believe me, forget doing all those DIY stuff, and head to the Autoscuola (No I am not representing any schools here!)
Theory lessons and Online Tests
Once you register yourself in the Autoscuola, you can start your lessons and practice test right from the school.
The lesson starts with the very basic. Remember these are the same tests be it a kid who just completed his/her 18th birthday or anyone who may have held a driver’s license and drove for years outside the EU.
So it starts with the very definition of “what are roads” etc. There are 25 chapters that will have to be covered for the exam. It will teach you on the different signs, speed limits, civil and other responsibilities, basic first aids and also some basic maintenance of the vehicle etc.
The exam will be conducted online with 40 different questions. Each question will be a multiple choice question (True/False) and you need to choose the right ones.
To pass the exam you are allowed to have a max of 4 errors. Anything more, welcome back to the test!
Do not think that the knowledge of the Italian language will help here. Because even the locals will find it difficult due to the tricky questions being asked in tests. So, practice is the only way out.
The classes in the autoscuola are to help you be familiar with the kind of tricky words used in the questions during the exam. Concentrate on them and keep practicing the sample tests.
There is no limit to the number of classes you can attend. Once you are confident of taking the exam, you can inform the instructor that you are ready and book a slot for the exam.
And once you pass the exam, you will be handed over with the “Foglio Rosa” which is more of a “Learner’s License” or “Preliminary License” to learn driving on the roads.
Driving lessons and Practical tests
With the Foglio rosa, you are allowed to learn driving along with the instructor on the Italian roads. There are compulsory classes that you need to take up – like driving in the night, driving on the Autostrada etc.
Also, you need to take up at least a minimum of 6 hours of driving lessons by law. Even if you are familiar with the driving, I would recommend you to blindly follow the instructor’s advice. Because the instructors know what is expected in the exam for a PASS and make sure you learn what is required by law.
It could be as simple as how you hold the steering wheel or how you stop & get out of the car, but you must follow his instruction.
And you have 6 months time to learn and appear for the driving test in the Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile.
Let me tell you an interesting thing about the practice tests.
The day you pass your theory test, your Italian Driver’s license is ready. I mean, when you appear for the practical driving tests, you will be actually handed over with your driver’s license. You will see it, feel it and in cloud nine only to know that it is not yet yours.
Yes, you will see it and confirm, but if you did not pass the test you will also see for yourselves with your own eyes on how your license is destroyed!!!
The license will only be handed over after you successfully clear the test.
If you succeded, then Congratulations!!! Party time.
Dreams have to wait
If you have been dreaming of flying on those Red Ferraris on the roads of Italy, it has to wait for at least another 3 years after you get your Italian driver’s license.
Yes, welcome to the club of Neo-Patente!
Till the completion of 3 years, you are not allowed to drive above 100kmph even on those Autostradas.
In the first year, you are not allowed to drive any cars above 55Kw of power per ton.
This Neo Patente status is for ALL new Italian driver’s license holders irrespective of whether you have been driving for decades in your home country.
Yes, this may sound weird, but that is how it works in Italy.
In this digital era, there are plenty of free resources you can get on the internet for learning for the Italian driver’s license.
One of the sites that I used almost every day is QuizPatente.
This site is a real treasure for people looking to pass the Italian Driver’s license test. It has all the chapters with details and pictures to help you visualize the signs, streets etc.
The good news is, you also have a mobile app that you can take everywhere. So, you can practice it anywhere & anytime when you are free.
And one of the best help you can get from this site is the online sample tests. They actually simulate the real tests on your computer so you will get familiarized with the way questions are to be asked in the real exam.
Remember, the questions in the exam are more to trick you. So, the more you practice these tests, the more chances for you to clear the exam easily.
Been There, Done That.
Before you ask me, here is my own experience in winning me a Driver’s license.
Due to the Italian language difficulties, initially, I bought almost 3 different multi-lingual books for the driver’s test. One fine day I figured out that it was these books that made me look at the test with fear.
The translation from Italian was really not up to the mark, plus you need to face the exam in Italian. So, there is no excuse for you to skip the Italian books.
Once I found the QuizPatente app on my mobile, that’s it. I use to practice it every day. And all my travel time on Milan’s public transport, I use to study and take up sample tests in this app right on my mobile.
I joined the autoscuola, and started to practice for the test using this app. I sincerely did this for 2 months, and finally appeared for the exam.
Result? I passed out with zero errors in the theory test.
So, all I can say is – if I can pass, you can too. Just practice and put all your effort.
Newbies, if you are looking for a license, let me know through comments if you have any questions on how to take the exam. Feel free to comment, and I will be more than happy to answer your questions.
Experts, do not forget to comment on your experience in winning yourself an Italian driver’s license.