So you’ve moved to Italy and now you want to get out of the city and see the country! But how exactly do you get an Italian Driver’s License? And how is driving in Italy really? Well for answering questions about driving in Italy for beginners you might want to check out this blog. In this article, I want to tell you a little more about how the Italian Driver’s License works, and what types are available.
When can you get an Italian Driver’s License?
Technically there are different licenses available for different ages. From 16 you are able to drive a lower-power car or a low-power motorino (like a Vespa). But the standard Italian driver’s license – to drive a normal car, is available to those over age 18.
After age 18 you can then obtain your license after passing a theory and practical test.
When do you need a driver’s license in Italy?
Technically after one year of residency in Italy, you then are required to have an Italian driver’s license, rather than an international one. You can convert it if you come from one of these countries. Otherwise, you will need to start from 0.
Different Types of Italian Drivers License
There exist 3 categories of Italian driver’s licenses that are then broken into different levels. Licenses with “A” refer mainly to motos and the like. B refers to cars and small trucks or vans. C refers to larger vehicles like buses or trucks.
Underneath the category, there are three levels of licence: Patente AM, A1 and A2, and finally A.
The Patente AM is the earliest license one can get, at 14 years old. This license lets one drive categories of “ciclomotori” and “quadricicli leggeri”, as long as they can’t go over 45kmh. Basically, these are the lightest of scooters and quads.
As you go up in level you can drive more powerful versions of mopeds and motorcycles. The full license A is for any motorcycle and can be obtained from 2 years old if you are already in possession of an A2 license (for two years), or from 24 years old if not.
Patente B is your most common drivers license, the one that lets you drive your average cars, and smaller vans. This can be obtained from 18 years old, but does come with some restrictions. After you pass the test and get your license, you still are subject to different speed limits and car power/weight ratio for your first year.
This unfortunately is also true even if you have had a license from another country for many years.
Having the patented B allows you to drive the same mopeds under the AM license, however, for any other power or motorcycle, you will have to go back and do the A exam.
Then there is the Patente C which is a professional-level driver’s license for driving large buses or trucks professionally. This also requires a separate process of Autoscuola and tests.
Obtaining your Driver’s License in Italy – Autoscuola
In order to obtain your Italian driver’s license, you don’t actually have to go to an autoscuola. You only need to pass the theory and practical test.
However, the school can help you in a few ways, they can walk you through the very extensive manual of driving rules, taking the time to explain complicated wording. This is especially helpful if you aren’t fluent in Italian, as the language of the guide is confusing even to native speakers!
They can also help you with the paperwork which is extremely useful! As always, applying for the license requires many bills, taxes, and forms, the school will get it all set up for you and book your test appointments.
No need to go to every lesson, but definitely try to attend a few and speak with your instructors to find out if you are ready.
Theory Test – Studying Tips
The hardest part of getting your license in Italy is the theory test. It is tough even for Italians, they aren’t trying to just trick you because of the language. Unfortunately, you also cannot take this test in EN, only IT, FR, or ES.
There are 30 questions, all multiple choice, and you can only get 3 wrong.
You’ll want to study, study, study. Seriously don’t slack off here, because you will need to pay every time. Also, you need to take the test out at the Department of Motors and guess what? It’s rarely EVER in an easy-to-reach spot.
So save yourself the struggle, in the long run, sit down and study your butt off. Here’s what I suggest doing:
- Get the manual, and read through it, just as a reference. Don’t try to memorize every fact, just take it in. Let’s call this active skimming. While reading DO NOT try to translate every concept or word you don’t understand. It doesn’t matter at all what it means in English, it is important to know the EXACT wording in Italian. Do they use the words sempre, spesso, etc? Focus on that, not the overall meaning.
- Download an app to help you – I loved Guida e Vai. Here you can take the tests one chapter at a time. Start that way dedicating on average 2 chapters per week. Go through the quizzes until you get through the majority of the questions. Spend your weekend going through the mistakes you made. Over, and over, until you get them.
I basically allotted a minimum of 1 hour per day to run through tests. You can set time aside, or do them during your commute.
- If you are having a tough time with one chapter, head back to the manual, and read it a little more seriously, especially the sections you are struggling with. Then try the quizzes again.
- I did attend at least one lesson a week at the school, trying to bring all my questions with me so I could clear up areas I had a tough time with.
- Once you get at least 5 chapters, start doing the mixed quizzes with every subject so as to practice a real quiz.
- Finally, about a month before your exam you should ONLY do mixed quizzes with every subject, spending at least 30-40 minutes on quizzes, then another 30-40 on going over errors.
Do I need to take a Language course first?
I do have a number of friends who signed up for an Italian for Driver’s License course, and they said it was great. However, I honestly do not believe you need to spend the extra money on a separate course, just to raise your chances of getting your driver’s license.
Even if you aren’t great at Italian, that isn’t so much the point. These quizzes are not testing your understanding of the concepts or language. They are testing your ability to memorize and reiterate.
If you already know how to drive, 90% of this exam is common sense that you already know. You just need to memorize how the Italian code wants it said.
Personally, I say try it out on your own first with the manual and quizzes, if you find it is extremely stressful not understanding the translation, then sign up for the language course.
After all that, the practical test will be fairly easy since you know how to drive. However, just a teeny tiny thing to note: Your driving test WILL be using a manual car.
So if you do not have any experience with that you’ll need to learn quite a bit. Luckily for this, you do need to do a minimum of hours with an instructor anyway.
Other than that little bit, the practical test goes smoothly, and there aren’t many ways you can mess up. I even accidentally stalled when doing mine, and we just laughed and they passed me, no worries!