Can a non-EU citizen visiting the EU actually go to a driving school and get a driver's license? Or will the person be required to be a resident/citizen (of the EU)?

I've found a similar answer for the US but am still unsure about the EU.

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    How long do you plan to stay in the EU country? Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 14:46
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    I am always on the move. So now that I'd be staying in the EU for three months, I thought it'd also be a good use of time to get a license which will be potentially valid (as a tourist; or easier to convert as a resident) as I travel around the world.
    – DaveIdito
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 16:21
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    @DaveIdito if you're three months in one place, then (ignoring the residency issue) that might be barely enough to get through the driver's license process, but usually it takes longer especially if you take into account all the scheduling issues and paperwork processing time. If you expect to be "always on the move" and actually travel through the EU in that time instead of staying the three months in one city, then that would not seem realistic.
    – Peteris
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 19:12
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    If you have an actual permanent residence somewhere (and you probably do even if you don't spend most of your time there, unless you're a stateless individual (and you would probably know if you are such an individual)), then chances are that you can obtain a driver's license there, which will usually be valid most other places in the world, albeit possibly requiring an "international driver's permit" (which is just an appropriately translated driver's license). Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 19:20
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    Do you already have a driver's license for your own country? If so, what country is that?
    – Mast
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 20:43

4 Answers 4


Unlikely. Though you can still go to driving schools at least in some countries.

The EU directive on driving licences provides:

Article 7

  1. Driving licences shall be issued only to those applicants:


(e) who have their normal residence in the territory of the Member State issuing the licence, or can produce evidence that they have been studying there for at least six months

Article 12

For the purpose of this Directive, ‘normal residence’ means the place where a person usually lives, that is for at least 185 days in each calendar year, because of personal and occupational ties, or, in the case of a person with no occupational ties, because of personal ties which show close links between that person and the place where he is living.

However, the normal residence of a person whose occupational ties are in a different place from his personal ties and who consequently lives in turn in different places situated in two or more Member States shall be regarded as being the place of his personal ties, provided that such person returns there regularly. This last condition need not be met where the person is living in a Member State in order to carry out a task of a definite duration. Attendance at a university or school shall not imply transfer of normal residence.

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    I believe they main reason behind this is to prevent "mail order driver's licenses". Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 6:17

I'll answer your question exclusively for Switzerland, as we are part of Europe but not the European Union and not all EU laws apply.

In short: No. According to the "Verkehrszulassungsverordnung"(VZV, Traffic Admission Ordinance) Article 5k for a person to be eligible for a learner permit or the full permit that person's place of residence must be within Switzerland. Place of residence is defined as

Der Wohnsitz einer Person befindet sich an dem Orte, wo sie sich mit der Absicht dauernden Verbleibens aufhält; der Aufenthalt zum Zweck der Ausbildung oder die Unterbringung einer Person in einer Erziehungs- oder Pflegeeinrichtung, einem Spital oder einer Strafanstalt begründet für sich allein keinen Wohnsitz

Under Article 23 A in the "Schweizerisches Zivilgesetzbuch" (Swiss civil code)

Which basically states that the place of residence is the place where the person intends to remain. Although if the stay is for the purpose of education/ training or the accommodation of a person in an educational or care facility, a hospital or a prison does not itself constitute a place of residence.

So in a little longer: No, unless you intend to remain here for one of the many reasons not listed above

  • The question asks about the EU, not Europe.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 15:49
  • @Nobody then why did OP include the europe tag?
    – MindSwipe
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 15:54
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    Maybe because the EU is mostly a true subset of Europe? I even checked the edit history, the question title and body were always about the EU. The tag is easier to get wrong. The question would also be better for the EU, for Europe it would be too broad.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 15:56
  • @Nobody The EU is not a subset of Europe. Parts of it are in the Caribbean, North America (off the mainland), South America and Africa (also off the mainland).
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 16:51
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    @MikeScott "mostly"
    – Nobody
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 17:07

The process in Ireland is as follows:

  1. Pass a Driver Theory Test
  2. Apply for a learner permit
  3. Sign up with an approved driving school for at least 12 hours of practical training
  4. Pass a practical test held by the Road Safety Authority
  5. Apply for your licence.

Steps 2 and 4 are problematic at the moment due to the COVID pandemic. These will reopen soon but with severe backlogs. Allow a minimum of six months to obtain a licence.

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    Is it required to be a resident of Ireland? Other answers seem to suggest that is the case for all EU countries, and it should be clarified.
    – fqq
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 21:24
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    In the UK there are companies which offer "intensive" driving courses which (theoretically) can be completed in about 2 weeks, including the practical test. Of course there is no guarantee of a first-time pass, and whether such a course actually can gives you enough varied experience to be a safe driver is a different question. Block booking of tests by a large driving school can eliminate the delays for booking individual tests, because you get assigned to a test slot that was booked long before you started your driving lessons.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:24
  • You need to provide 'Evidence of residency entitlement'.
    – copper.hat
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 5:00

If you're looking for a driver's license just to drive in Europe as a tourist, there is a much cheaper and easier way: the International Driving Permit. The link is for AAA if you're in the US, but other countries like Canada have the equivalent for an equally low price. Happy travels!

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    The precondition for receiving an International Driving Permit (IDP), is that you have a driver's licence. An IDP can only be used together with your driver's licence, so I'm not sure how this helps the OP. Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 10:47
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    And, these days, an IDP isn't needed in most places (at least for a US licensed driver).
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 14:46
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    An IDP is nothing more than a translation of a driver's license. That's all it is.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 19:10
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    @Fattie That is incorrect. It is an entity in its own right. It holds more value than some other arbitrary translation of a driver's licence. Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 19:32
  • @Asteroidswithwings An IDP is indeed a translation, not only in cases where the original licence is written in non Latin characters but more importantly the driving classes. What in Europe is Class B (car) is, I believe, Class 5 in Canada and Class C in the US. The IDP should show Class B for all 3. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 6:22

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