How to Get a Czech Driver's License

Eligible for a license exchange or going back to driving school?

Getting a driver's license is an important milestone in life. The process varies in different cultures but many countries have signed an agreement to allow their citizens to skip the hassle of retaking the test.

Your eligibility depends on the Road Traffic Convention that you can find here. Make sure to read the fine print – the US for example is on the list but didn't ratify the agreement. This means that US drivers, and many others, need to go back to school.

Until you have a long-term visa in the Czech Republic it is possible to use an international license – this only works for the first several months of your stay and the exact time depends on your nationality and visa type. The good news is that test isn't difficult to pass, especially if you have experience driving. However it can be quite time consuming and hard to schedule around work.

Czech law requires students to take at least 28 driving lessons that last 45 minutes each. These lessons need to be taken with a professional teacher and cost between 10,000 and 16,000 CZK. Since the classes and test are in Czech, it is important to ask the school if they can provide a translator. This can add quite a bit to the cost but is necessary unless you speak good Czech.

Interpreters are available in a variety of different languages but taking lessons in Czech is, of course, the cheapest. The cost of the actual test is 700 CZK and you need to pay another 500 CZK on a medical checkup that you need to get before starting lessons. This is very similar to the checkup required by most employers and they are basic tests to see if you are physically capable of driving.

Over the past few years there have been many arrests and reforms to the system due to the high number of bribe accusations. The stricter regulations make it harder for experienced drivers to get around taking lessons – according to Czech law the number of years you have been driving is irrelevant if your license was given out by a country that didn't ratify the convention.

The actual test has three parts: the written test, oral technical and the driving test. The tests generally start at 7am in the morning and finish at noon because of the long waiting times. The written test is done at a computer and is exactly the same as a practice test that you can do online. You can find the online sample test in Czech for the B license here.

The test consists of 25 multiple choice questions that are chosen out of a very large amount that is organized into categories. You can find all of the questions online and use this material to study for the test – taking the online quizzes repeatedly is the way that most people study. These questions involve photos of signs or intersections and the answers have to explain what they mean or how to act in the given situation.

If you get one or two questions wrong you won't automatically fail. You need at least 43 out of 50 points to pass and the amount of points per questions varies based on difficulty. If you don't pass this first part of the test, you don't move on to the next round.

The technical test comes second and is one-on-one with the driving examiner who also grades your driving. The questions in this part of the test are more difficult to study for and require great knowledge of all the technical aspects of driving. This includes what items you need to have in the car at all times, what circuit breakers are for and understanding the difference between diesel and regular fuel engines. This part of the test takes around 10 minutes but can vary depending on the examiner.

The driving part of the test is the most important and the easiest to fail. Prepare to be in a full car with your examiner, instructor as well as other learner drivers who are waiting their turn to take the test. It is important to convey to the examiner that you know all the rules – use the correct gear, have your seat belt on, pay attention to all the signs, be extra vigilant around pedestrian crossings and do everything else that your instructor ever mentioned.

At the end of the test you have to park the car and depending on how your driving went, even something small – like forgetting to signal that you are parking even if there is no one behind you – can result in a fail. The good news is that you will find out the results of the test as soon as you park the car. If you fail, you can retake just the driving part of the test within 14 days.

A pass allows you to pick up a stamped application form at the school that you then take to Prague's Town Hall at Jungmannova 35, Prague 1 where you register as a new driver. Depending on how busy it is when you go, it can take up to an hour of waiting time before you can submit your paper work. It is best to have a Czech speaker with you for this part too. It generally takes several weeks before you can pick up your license and begin driving.

You can find a list of driving schools here.

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