France

Obtaining a License in France

With our daughter, Stephanie, turning 16 years old, we decided to start looking at what it would take for her to get a drivers license in France. It is a very different process from other countries.

We discover the first thing we need in this process is patience. Though a student can start the process is 16 years old, the entire process will take around 18 months to complete. A student has to first pass a highway code test which typically takes a couple of months to do. They will take a series of mock tests until they score well and are able to take the real one. The catch is, you don’t want to rush this step, because each time you fell you have to pay again. This step must be completed before ever sitting behind the wheel of a car.

Once the student passes the test, they began taking driving lessons. They are required to take at least 20 hours worth, costing quite a bit of money. The instructor takes the learner out and works through a list of lessons and tasks the student will need to become a competent driver. The longer it takes the driver to catch on to concepts, the more costly it becomes.

The good thing is, though, that the final test is filled very rarely because the instructor will not sign off on the paperwork until the student is ready to move on. Many times, the instructor will require the new driver to take extra hours of lessons, which, of course, will cost you more money.

When at the driving school, you must have designated accompanying drivers, those who are experienced and have had a license for a minimum of three years. This is when you also let your insurance company know about the new driver.

The French learning drivers during their first year must keep a record of all trips they make, notate in the distance, the weather, etc. There will also be a couple intermediate tests throughout the first year to monitor the drivers progress.

Once the learner has finish this step, they will take one last test at the driving school before they can drive on their own. Regardless, they must be 18 years old before they can get a drivers license.

As you can see, the process is quite different than it is in the states. I suppose it’s a great way to learn the skills necessary for driving, though.