• New investigation from Veygo by Admiral reveals cost of learning to drive round the world
  • Malta is cheapest place to learn to drive and take a test
  • Hong Kong most expensive place to learn costing over £3,000 – more twice the price of the UK.
  • Some countries allow young drivers to start learning at 14 or 15
  • Eye tests, medical certificates and green L plates await those who pass

A new investigation from  learner driver insurance specialist Veygo by Admiral has revealed the cost of learning to drive is wildly different depending on where in the world you live, but Brits don’t have it too bad.

With costs ranging from just over £300 in Malta to over £3,000 in Hong Kong it seems some young drivers’ dreams of getting behind the wheel come at a significantly different price.

Looking at the cost of getting a provisional licence, driving lessons with an authorised instructor and the price of sitting your theory and practical tests, right through to converting it to a full licence, Veygo found startling differences.

Paying the price for expertise

The UK ranked fifth cheapest place for learner drivers to get a lesson with an expert, with the average cost of a lesson £24 – better value than in Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, USA and Hong Kong

Learner drivers in Malta got the best value, with the average cost of a driving lesson with a qualified instructor coming in at £13.

On the other end of the scale, at over four times more expensive than the UK, the most expensive cost per lesson faced learner drivers in Hong Kong with the average cost coming in at £97 a lesson.

Although some countries adopt the same approach as the UK and allow learner drivers to choose between professional lessons or to learn with a suitably qualified driver, places like Italy and Hong Kong only allow lessons with licenced instructors, making high prices unavoidable for those who want to get on the road.

Average cost for a single instructed driving lesson:

Rank                                 Country                           Average cost of a single lesson in £
1                                           Malta                                                        13
2                                       Barbados                                                     15
3                                         Canada                                                      18
4                                          Spain                                                        22
5                                            UK                                                           24
6                                     Singapore                                                     30
7                                   New Zealand                                                  31
8                                        Ireland                                                       35
9                                      Australia                                                      35
10                                      France                                                        40
11                                    Germany                                                      44
12                                     Sweden                                                       68
13                                        USA                                                          86
14                                 Hong Kong                                                    97
15                                        Italy                       N/A – only blocks of multiple lessons available

Young drivers behind the wheel

Some countries including the USA (state dependent), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Barbados, Ireland and Sweden all allow drivers to start the formal learning process and sit tests at the age of 16.

Our French neighbours allow young drivers to start at just 15, although like British teenagers they need to be 17 before they can legally take their test.

Other countries including Spain, Italy, Singapore, Malta and Hong Kong require drivers to be 18 before they can start learning, putting the UK firmly in the middle of the pack.

Driving around the World

Veygo’s investigation revealed Hong Kong to be the most expensive place for drivers to learn overall, with a combination of the most expensive ‘rate’ per hour and a recommended 30 lessons before attempting a test.

What’s more, there is a standard wait of six to nine months to sit the test in Hong Kong and hefty charges to re-sit, adding to the pressure for those keen to get the green light.

Germany was the most expensive place for learner drivers in Europe, and the second most expensive worldwide. Despite being £1,000 cheaper than Hong Kong, the average overall cost for learner drivers came in at £2,164 thanks to a recommended 40-50 lessons of tuition before learners are test ready, as well as a £364 price tag to sit the test.

The USA ranked the third most expensive place to learn to drive. And while rules vary by state, the USA had the second highest average charge for a single lesson at £86 meaning any young Americans dreaming of a Route 66 road trip will need a hefty budget to get there.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale a single lesson in Malta costs just £13 on average. Whilst they don’t have a set number of recommended lessons required, an assumption of 20 lessons, a cheap cost for provisional license and a total test cost under £50 means Malta offers a much more modest price tag for learner drivers looking to get their license.

Life after you get your licence

While passing your driving test is a mark of freedom in the UK and around the world, in some countries new drivers face strict rules and regulations even after they have a full licence.

In Spain for example, drivers MUST display a green L plate for the first year after passing their test.

And while Maltese drivers are faced with the lowest costs when learning to drive, they need to exercise extra caution once they’ve passed. In Malta, new drivers remain on a ‘provisional’ licence for a full three years after passing their test and need to keep it clean in order to progress to a full license.

Newly qualified drivers in Sweden need to have a mandatory eye test which will set them back the equivalent of £17, and German drivers need both an emergency medical aid certificate and an eye test.

Accidents around the world

EU data on young driver accidents1 shows that Germany had the highest proportion of young drivers in all young person road fatalities in 2015. 74% of road fatalities involving young people occurred when the young driver was behind the wheel.

Young driver accidents in Europe

Country                                Number of young people fatalities in 2015                                      % involving young driver
Germany                                                          473                                                                                                  74%
France                                                              619                                                                                                   71%
Italy                                                                  379                                                                                                   69%
Sweden                                                             25                                                                                                    68%
UK                                                                    309                                                                                                   67%
Spain                                                                144                                                                                                   58%
Malta                                                                  4                                                                                                     25%

Jean-Baptiste Limare, head of Veygo by Admiral said: “Learning to drive can be an expensive business but UK learners are relatively lucky in that they can choose to learn with a parent or friend if they have the required experience which can help to reduce the costs, even if those lessons are mixed with official tuition from a registered driving instructor.

“Combining lessons with an official instructor has other benefits too, 90% of our own customers say that additional private practice helped them pass their driving test.”

“Costs vary vastly across the globe and despite being the 5th most expensive place to learn, the UK is still less than half the cost of Hong Kong. UK learners are also fortunate in their ability to schedule additional tests if things don’t go so well first time, without long waiting times. Test centre rates are publicly available so choosing a centre with a better pass rate may also help young drivers pass first time.”

Regardless of where in the world you learn to drive, here are Admiral’s top tips for young drivers:

  1. Know the theory – read, understand and learn the rules of the road based on the highway code or equivalent
  2. Ask your friends, family and other drivers to test you on your knowledge
  3. Start revising and practicing your theory knowledge in plenty of time for the test – depending where in the world you live a re-test could involve a long wait as well as an additional BIG expense
  4. If you can legally mix instructor led tuition with support from an authorised adult – for example a parent – this could help reduce your tuition costs
  5. If the rules of the road mean all your lessons are with an official driving school, plan and prepare for each one – ensure you are on time, ready, and alert; pick a time of day for your lessons where you can guarantee attendance and make notes afterwards on advice given that you can read through before the next session
  6. Stay calm, avoid distractions and don’t panic!