Getting an Italian Driver's License
by Italy or Bust!, a member of Expats in Italy.
Step One. I went to the local autoscuola in Chianciano Terme for information about the process. The owner of the school gave to me the 3 bolletini that were required (see below) and the application form from the motorizzazione. The bolletini were already filled out with the correct C/Cn as follows:
C/Cn 9001 Euro 15,00
C/Cn 4028 Euro 14,62
C/Cn 4028 Euro 14,62
Yes, two were identical. I really don’t know for certain what each bolletino pays for—but I got the impression that the two for Euro 14,62 were for the two exams: theory and practical. Perhaps the other one helps to pay for the examiner for the driving test. Not sure.
I took these bolletini to the post office and paid them (each one was increased in price by Euro 1,80 at the post office) for a total of Euro 49,64.
Step Two. I went to have passport style photos made. I think I needed 3 altogether.
Step Three. I went to ACI to have the medical exam. The cost in San Quirico d’Orcia was Euro 60,00. I understand there is not a consistent price, and in fact, my friend had hers made just up the road in Buonconvento and only paid Euro 50,00. The medical exam is primarily an eyesight test, but the medical examiner also asked other questions about my health to determine, sort of, if I am in proper physical condition to be a safe driver. Other than the eye test, there was no actual physical exam of my body. I believe they used one of my photos to attach to the medical certificate.
Step Four. I drove to the motorizzazione office in Siena to make application to take the theory test. I needed the following:
a. The completed application
b. Receipts from the post office showing payment of the bolletini
c. The medical certificate PLUS TWO COPIES.
d. My original Permesso di Soggiorno, PLUS TWO COPIES.
e. My original Carta d’Identità PLUS TWO COPIES.
f. Two passport photos
I did not need to provide any copies of my Texas driver license. Please note that I had to show both the PdiS and the Cd'I and provide two copies of each. They will not make copies for you; you must bring all the required copies yourself.
She told me to return in no less than 20 days to obtain a date and time for the exam. No, we could not call for this date and time. No, they would not call me on the phone. No, they will not send anything in the mail. I was obligated to come back in person.
Step Four. Twenty days later I appeared again in person to obtain the date and time. This was in July, and as is common for many things, August was NOT to be a good month to take the exam. Ferragosto, you know. So, time was lost because of the month of August. The woman gave us documents showing the date and time of the exam and told us to bring them with us on exam day.
Step Five. Take the theory exam at the Motorizzazione Office. As I entered the computer lab where the test was given, the proctor requested to see the documents that I received in Step Four. He checked my Carta d’Identita’ and he also looked at my Permesso di Soggiorno. He noted that it was only a copy—which was no problem, because I had the original with me—but before I could get it out, he said, “No, no, va bene.” I recommend that you have your original PdiS as well as your Cd’I.
I took the exam in British English on a touch-screen computer. The software used for the exam uses the exact same format as the software you can download from the web for free called WEBpatente. I found it VERY comforting to be completely familiar with the format. I recommend highly that you practice with the exams from this site.
The exam is computer-generated, and each test-taker in the room has a different test. The database used for test questions is vast. The test has 10 main subjects, each one with 3 true/false questions, for a total of 30 questions. You may miss no more than 4 to pass the test. The software is easy to use; you may skip questions and come back to them. You may answer questions and come back and review and change your answer if you would like. But once you “touch” the “Confirm” button, the test is over.
I was told at the end of the exam that I passed. (Be aware that they post all the test scores by name on the outside of the test room. I found that rather shocking. Of course I looked at these lists while I was waiting and I saw that a full third of the people taking the exam that day had failed the exam, maybe more!)
The proctor signed and stamped the documents that were given to us the day we set up the exam date and time, and told us the next thing we needed to do was go to autoscuola.
Note: I was not told of any opportunity to take the theory test orally. This was done in the past, but perhaps before they started offering the computerized test in English. I do not know if this is still a possibility—I did not ask.
Another Note: I did not take autoscuola lessons for the theory exam. I purchased a book that was written in Italian and British English to study, and also purchased a CD that included hundreds of practice exams. In addition, I downloaded the WEBpatente software that includes many practice exams. By taking these tests, and looking through the manual to see why I missed questions, I learned where the pitfalls were. The translation for many, many, MANY questions is terrible and sometimes completely wrong.
Step Five. The very next day we went to the autoscuola and gave our freshly stamped motorrizzazione documents to the instructor. He scheduled us for our first driving lesson that took place within 3 days. We took a second lesson a week later.
Step Six. The instructor scheduled our driving exam for us and it took place 11 days after we passed the theory exam. I have read that the driving test takes place 30 days or more after the theory exam—but this was not true for us.
The autoscuola costs for the driving exam and for driving lessons were as follows:
Euro 250,00 fee for the exam (in essence, to rent the car and for the instructor’s time)
Euro 20,00 per driving lesson (each lesson was 45 minutes in length)
Total cost for me was Euro 290,00
Step Seven. Take the driving exam. You must present to the examiner your foglia rosa, original Permesso di Soggiorno, and carta d’identità. Our instructor said it would be a nice gesture to present her with our calling card when we met her—it presents a good first impression. Nice touch.
The exam is given using the autoscuola car (not your own private car, as we do in the USA). The autoscuola instructor rides shotgun, and the examiner rides in the back. In our situation, the instructor directed our path and actions (drive straight, turn here, make a 3-point turn here, go through this round-about, parallel park here, etc.). In our case, the examiner did not give us any instructions—only our instructor. The exam took no more than 10-12 minutes.
If you pass, you will be given the license immediately (you will sign for it in three places, including on the patente with a special pen) which is in plastic with your photo—similar to the license given in the USA. If you fail, the license is shredded (hopefully later, out of your presence, otherwise this would be very cruel, unnecessary punishment), and of course, you must arrange for another exam at a later date.
It is a wonderful feeling to receive the patente right then, on the spot!!!!!
Total cost for getting my driver’s license:
Textbook and CD: Euro 25,00
Bolletini Euro 49,64
Medical exam Euro 60,00
Autoscuola Euro 290,00
Total Euro 424,64
Sense of relief Priceless!!!!!