Europeans can drive on their license from their home country, but Americans (and Canadians, Australians, Japanese…) must take the practical driving test in order to get a driver’s license in Norway. It could be worse, others from many other countries also must take the written theory test and a few mandatory lessons for night driving and slippery driving. You must do it all within a year of your arrival in Norway (or be subjected to the theory test and/or more mandatory lessons). I’m getting close to reaching one year in Norway (crazy, where does time go!?!?) so this fall it was go time!
Let me tell you, getting a drivers license in Norway is expensive:
$40 for a doctor’s appointment
$1200 for 12 – 45 minute driving lessons so I could learn to drive stick
$295 for the use of the car during the exam (you have to use a driving school car, so effectively you are paying for the driving instructor to have a coffee and chat with other driving instructors when you take the test)
$150 to take the test
$40 for the actual license card
and $10 for the picture to go on the license
Total $1735 – yikes!! But while I am sure I could have found a more exciting way to spend that money, I am thankful it wasn’t a financial burden to me. I am also really thankful to the friends that lent me their time, patience and/or cars as I learned to drive stick. There were some tears and a lot of anxiety but at some point it all started to make sense. Note – now that I’ve learned, I do not think driving a stick is better than driving an automatic, but I spent a lot of money to learn how to do it, so I’ll stick with driving stick shift for at least a while.
Regardless of what it cost, I am beyond happy that I am now a licensed driver in Norway!! While I don’t plan on buying a car anytime soon (if you think getting a license is expensive, imagine how much it costs to buy a car!), having a license – and maybe more importantly now knowing how to drive a stick shift – gives me freedom. Freedom to rent a car on a whim and freedom to join the car share program.
Driving makes me happy. Not driving around town per say, but driving to explore. Whether is be driving to a trailhead for a hike or to someplace I’ve never been – Sweden, islands off the coast of mid-Norway, or even just the far end of the fjord. So while getting my license the second time around isn’t quite as exciting as it was at 16 (although this time around I was able to celebrate my success with a beer!), it is a big step to becoming more and more settled here.
All smiles while getting to drive on my trip to Lanzarote last week!