Driver's license prices—how much does getting your license cost?
Are you a student—or already working—and looking to get your driver's license? Check out our guide to getting that precious permit without breaking the bank.
8 min read
Are you a student—or already working—and looking to get your driver's license? Now might be the time to join the nearly 2 million people in France who are getting licensed to hit the road every year. And if the price is what’s holding you back, check out our guide to getting that precious permit without breaking the bank.
Getting your driver's license as a student
There are many perks that come with having a driver's license, especially for your professional future. Here’s a few ways a driver’s license can help you land a job:
- Expand your search, beyond places with public transportation
- Work flexible hours, if a job requires it
- Stand out from the competition, show you’re self-reliant
Beyond the work-related benefits, getting a driver’s license also means taking vacations or weekend trips whenever and wherever you want—even to secluded places!
Looking to buy a car? See how much you should budget to buy and maintain a car.
How much does it cost to take the driving test?
Let's move on to the thorny question—how much does getting a category B driver's license for cars cost? First, you’ll have to pass 20 hours of driving training, then you’ll have to pass the Highway Code course, and finally a separate practical driving exam. And according to the French Interior Ministry, the average cost of lessons in order to pass your test is €1,800, which includes the costs of the Highway Code theory test. However, this national average is not without regional variances. For example, the costs are much lower in the Territoire de Belfort and the Nord, averaging €1,480, compared to over €2,000 in the Paris region. So, getting your driver's license in the provinces is generally less expensive.
To give you a clearer picture of costs associated with obtaining your driver’s license see the breakdown below.
Pay in seconds, not days
How much does The Highway Code course cost?
The Highway Code course price is divided into two parts—the fee for the training hours and the test fee. For drivers who take lessons at a driving school, the average price for taking the Code test is €300, which includes administrative fees for paperwork and registration. If you take it independently and register yourself, it will cost you €30.
How much do driving lessons cost?
Hourly prices for driving lessons are not regulated, with regional variations as well as differences between driving schools. These training hours account for the bulk of your driving license budget, so make sure you choose a school that offers a price that suits your budget.
The average price for 20 hours of classes (the minimum required) is €1,000, with regional variations ranging from €900 to €1,300.
However, many people are not ready after only 20 hours of driving, so budget for around 35 hours behind the wheel instead. An average of 40% of test takers fail the first time around, which means heading back to driving school to hone your skills. However, the cost of these extra lessons varies from school to school. The average cost of each extra hour is €42.80, but can climb to €60 in the Paris region!
How much does the practical exam cost?
Good news—since December 2015, the cost of the practical driving test is free. Driving schools can no longer charge for this service.
Tips for keeping costs down
Learning to drive is not cheap, but these tips will help you keep your costs down:
- Use online comparison services. We recommend using UFC Que Choisir association’s interactive map, which allows you to compare the pass rate statistics of the schools around you. Although this tool doesn't factor in prices, it will help you pick a school with the best chances of getting your driver's license quickly—so you can save time and money.
- Opt for accompanied driving. Starting at age 15, you can practice driving when accompanied by an adult. And according to the 2019 Ministry of the Interior's figures, the average driving test pass rate was 74.9% for those learning through accompanied driving—compared to the national average of 58.2%. Practicing with an accompanied driver can limit the number of extra driving school lessons you have to take and give you plenty of time to feel natural on your big day.
- Consider supervised driving instead of extra lessons. Based on the same principle as accompanied driving, supervised driving allows anyone who has completed a minimum number of hours of driving—or who fails the final test—to practice with a trusted supervisor. Unlike accompanied driving where you have a minimum number of kilometers (3000) and a fixed time period (1 year) required before taking the final exam, with supervised driving you get some freedom. In fact, you can practice on your own terms and decide when you’re ready before taking, or re-taking, the exam.
- Get your driver's license for €1 per day. If you're between 15 and 25 years old, you can finance your license through the "Permis à 1 euro par jour" program offered by the government and lending institutions. How does it work? The state pays the price of the license (up to €1,200) as well as the interest rates. The recipient then has to repay the state €30 each month.
- As an apprentice, you can apply for €500 in state aid. Since 2019, apprentices over 18 who are learning to drive are eligible to receive €500 in state aid. Learn more about this program from the Ministry of Labor.
To help you afford the costs of getting a license, learn how to save money quickly.
Besides these tips, there's another way to save money when it comes to getting your driver's license—online driving schools.
Online driving schools—take your driving test on the Internet
Since 2015, a new kind of driving school has launched—online driving schools. How does it work? Highway Code preparation courses are taught online, and then learners choose their instructor and driving lesson times.
However, unlike traditional schools, candidates are responsible for completing all the administrative steps required to take their tests as independent candidates (see next paragraph).
One of the main reasons for choosing an online driving school is the reduced cost. Expect to pay between €30 and €60 for the Highway Code preparation course, and an average of €700 for the 20 hours of driving needed. Besides, online driving schools are ideal for those with busy schedules or who can't travel to a driving school to cram for their code exam.
How to take the Highway Code test?
To take the Highway Code test, you must be at least 16 years old, or even 15 years old if you intend to be an accompanied driver. To pass, you have to get at least 35 of the 40 questions right. After passing the Highway Code test, you have five years and five chances to complete your driver's license.
If you're enrolled in a driving school, the school will handle the paperwork to register for the Highway Code test.
For those wishing to take the Highway Code test as an independent candidate (if you've opted for an online school, for example) you must first apply for an NEPH registration number (Numéro d'Enregistrement Préfectoral Harmonisé) on the ANTS website (Agence Nationale des Titres Securisés). This number will allow you to book a test session at a center near you. Test dates are assigned in about ten days.
How to get a driver's license?
The following conditions must be met before taking the practical test for the category B driver's license:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must have your School Road Safety Certificate (ASSR) and the level two School Road Safety Certificate (ASSR2)
- You must have completed at least 20 hours of driving training
- You must have passed the Highway Code test
The practical test lasts about 30 minutes, including 25 minutes of driving. Two of seven skilled maneuvers must be performed, as well as a technical inspection of the vehicle (the inspection is temporarily suspended until December 31, 2021). Finally, there’s the oral exam where you’ll have to answer road safety and first aid questions.
To get your license as an independent candidate, you must apply to the local prefecture. It takes about two months to get a date. If you're enrolled in a driving school, this center will take care of all the procedures for you.
However, should you fail the test, the second date may take several months to be arranged. The health crisis has also extended these waiting times in many French regions. Therefore, make sure you're well prepared before you take the first test!
Well, are you ready to get your license and hit the road?
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