Italian Driving License For English Speaker

How to Get an Italian Driver’s License for English Speakers.# Italian Driving license

Italian Driving license, Telling my new expat bestie getting an Italian Driver’s license is not as simple as turning over her current American Driver’s license, felt like telling my Sister the truth about Santa Claus. The fact that the written exam to get an Italian Driver’s license is not given in English? Lump of coal.

While European countries allow drivers to convert their licenses from one country to the next, the United States and Canada are not so lucky. For us, getting an Italian Driver’s license means heading back to Driver’s Ed school, cramming to pass a notoriously difficult written test, six hours of driving with an instructor, and a practice exam… all in Italian. Plus, the car used to take the driving exam has to be a manual.

Wondering if you have to get an Italian Driver’s license when you come to Italy? That depends.


Is Your Current Driver’s Licenses Valid in Italy? # Italian Driving license

European drivers have valid Driver’s Licenses in Italy. An American just visiting Italy? Don’t worry, you can drive legally in Italy with an international driving permit with a sworn translation. Thankfully the process (for Americans) is pretty painless and can be done with AAA’s $20 International Driver’s Permit service. 

Driving in Italy for the first time? Be sure to get advice ahead of time from your local Embassy or Consulates office in Italy. The US Embassy provides information about driving in Italy, restricted ZTL zones, and how to handle traffic violation in Italy.

Speaking of traffic violations, if you are a new resident in Italy who needs to get an Italian Driver’s license stat, here are three reasons not to solely rely on information in expat forums. One, you don’t have much time. After declaring residency in Italy, the clock starts ticking. The Italian government allows new residents one year to hand over their current driver’s license and test for an Italian one. Welcome to Italy my friend! Tick tock.

Two, there is always a rebel expat who swears up and down they have been driving in Italy for years with their old Driver’s license and “never had a problem.” Don’t fall for it! While COVID has increased road checks, open borders in Europe mean police regularly pull cars over to check IDs and vehicle registration. With or without a traffic violation.

In the first eleven months of living in Italy, we’ve been pulled over three times. Each time we were driving legally, no violations. Still, as standard practice our IDs were checked, our vehicle registration was confirmed and we were free to go. While the stops were brief and cordial I’d consider this a word to the wise.

The third reason to verify information found on blogs, forums and Facebook groups? Laws change. Historically the Italian Driver’s license exam was available in English. Unfortunately this is no longer the case. Depending on where you look, you also find conflicting information about Drivers Ed classes being either optional, highly recommended, or mandatory.# Italian Driving license


Italian Driving license

The easiest and most efficient way to get your driver’s license is to go through the autoscuola. If you live near the DMV, you can try to DIY the permit exam and do all the necessary paperwork yourself and save some money, but I’d only recommend this if you’re up for the headaches. You can read about how former American expat Diane Zahuranec did it herself on her blog Once Upon a Time in Italy.# Italian Driving license

Most people, however, go through the autoscuola. It costs between 600-700 euros and this price includes theory classes, driving lessons, all requisite taxes and stamps, a medical exam  (basically an eye test with lots of stamps and signatures) and both the theory (permit) and practical (driving) tests. The school will take care of all the paperwork and bureaucracy with the DMV.# Italian Driving license


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