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The Cost of Learning to Drive Around the World

With UK driving lessons and tests starting up again after a few months in the layby, many learners will be weighing up the costs involved.

It might help soften the blow, however, to consider the fees in light of what drivers around the world are paying. Or harshen it, depending on where you look…

Looking at 20 of the world’s strongest economies by GDP, from the UK to Australia and back again, we’ve calculated the average cost of lessons, tests and any additional fees to see if there’s a correlation.

Switzerland is the world’s most expensive for learning to drive

The Swiss figures are about as dizzying as a trip up the Alps. With the dearest lessons and tests in our research, the total cost of learning to drive in Switzerland is £3,805 – nearly £1,000 more expensive than France in second position.

In light of that, the UK’s total of £1,199 doesn’t seem quite as unreasonable. The hourly rate of lessons, £24, is also right in the middle of the set, and only five countries have fairer additional costs – just £34 for a provisional licence application.

But, the likes of South Korea, Poland and India’s learners pay less than £500 all in. Despite being one of the world’s up-and-coming superpowers, India still offers one of the most frugal methods of nabbing a licence.

In fact, none of the fees we found topped single digits. Each lesson costs only £4 – a sixth of our cost – and the tests are paid for with change from a tenner (£6).

Understanding the difference in cost

Widely regarded as one of the world’s most eco-conscious countries, it’s perhaps little surprise that Switzerland deters drivers with excessive costs.

Putting it into context, you could learn to drive in India, Thailand, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey with the money the Swiss are charging and still have nearly half a grand spare.

That said, the USA comes in at less than half the cost, despite its repeated bestseller being the heavy-duty Ford F-Series – a two-tonne pickup truck that’s about as environmentally friendly as you imagine.

Our research shows the grass isn’t always greener, and that UK drivers might be getting a better deal than they first thought.

How to save on the cost of driving lessons

If travelling across the world to pass your test isn’t practical, there are other ways to drive down the cost of learning:

  • Private practice: in addition to lessons, private tuition with relatives or friends can help keep you up to speed. Just make sure they fit the criteria to avoid a fine and points on your provisional licence – they need to do it without charging, be over 21, be qualified to drive the type of vehicle they’re supervising in, and also have had a full driving licence for three years.
  • Choose the right instructor: to keep the costs down, it might be tempting to go for the cheapest instructor you find, but this could be worse in the long run. Paying a bit more will generally get you a better instructor who may help you learn more in a shorter time.
  • Weekday lessons: as with a lot of things, midweek driving lessons can be cheaper than those at the weekend. If you can afford the time Monday to Friday, look into it and work out the overall costs – multiply the savings per lesson by 45, the average number of hours needed.
  • Intensive courses: a lot of driving schools also offer intensive courses that demand a lump sum but aim to have you ready for a test in a much shorter time. Compared to buying lessons in smaller chunks, there can be some substantial savings. Some of the schools will even organise the theory and practical tests on your behalf.
  • Extra reading: Putting the revision in can help cut costs on the tests as well. We recommend the Official DVSA Theory Test Kit app, which covers all theory test questions, hazard perception clips and includes a copy of The Highway Code. It’s also made by the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency that sets the actual tests.

More automotive insight and features on the Car Lease Special Offers blog.

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