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The young driver index

Learning to drive is a right of passage, but the different things drivers need to do  differ by country.

Between the cost of driving lessons, theory tests and practical examinations, it’s not always as easy as it looks. And even after you pass, the cost of car insurance for new drivers is a challenge in itself.

So, where in the world is it easiest to learn to drive? Let’s take a look.

Image of two men looking at a vehicle that’s parked incorrectly in a parking bay

Passing your driving test and getting behind the wheel is the kind of freedom that many teenagers dream about.

But, depending on what country you live in, the legal driving age, difficulty of exams, and the cost of learning to drive can vary significantly.

So when it comes to getting their licence, where do young drivers have the smoothest start? And what countries put the most obstacles in their path?

Using 11 scoring factors, including minimum lesson requirements and theory test difficulty, we ranked the best countries in the world for learning to drive.


The best countries for new drivers

A graphic to show that Estonia scored 70.5, the USA scored 70.4, and Turkey scored 70.2 in the Young Driver Index

Estonia - 70.5/100

With no minimum driving lesson requirement and a typical lesson costing just £22, Estonia topped our index as the best country for young drivers.

Taking a driving exam costs just £58, and licence application fees are £23, making Estonia among the more affordable nations for learning to drive. And with the theory exam requiring just 26 correct answers to pass, fast learners could find themselves passing their test sooner than expected.

USA - 70.4/100

Although laws and regulations vary from state to state, the minimum age for driving unsupervised in the United States is usually 16. However, younger drivers are likely subject to a curfew between 10 pm and 5 am. And although this rule might annoy some teenagers, the USA still ranks highly in our index.

In most states, exam costs are included in the driving permit application fee. This costs just £16 on average. However, applicants have to pay an additional fee if they need to resit either exam.

With a low age barrier, cheap fees, and no first aid training or medical requirements, the US is the second best country for young drivers.

Turkey - 70.2/100

Following the initial licence application cost of roughly £50, learners in Turkey only pay £9 to sit both their theory and practical examinations. Bargain!

But Turkey does have more rules when it comes to practical learning. To earn a Turkish driving licence, motorists have to complete 44 hours of mandatory training that includes:

  • First aid
  • Car maintenance
  • Traffic etiquette

That’s a lot different to learners in Estonia, for example. But due to the overall low cost of learning to drive, Turkey still secures a top position in our list.


The 25 easiest countries to learn to drive

Rank Country Score
United States
New Zealand
United Kingdom
Czech Republic

The cheapest countries for learning to drive

Graphic to show that Hungary, France and Turkey are the cheapest countries for learning to drive, based on the costs of practical exams, theory tests, licence costs and driving lessons.]


Between the strict theory course, intensive practical training, first aid lessons and medical examinations, Hungary ranks 21st on the young driver index. Despite this, the overall costs when learning to drive in Hungry are relatively cheap. That’s why Hungary comes 1st in our list of cheapest countries.

Driving lessons are usually sold as packages that also include your licence costs, but individual lessons typically cost around £20.


Before learning to drive in France, aspiring motorists must register with a driving school. And like Hungary, driving schools generally sell lessons in packages.

The cost of applying for your licence and exam fees are usually included and packages start with a mandatory minimum of 20 hours. Larger packages are also available and individual lessons cost an average of £37.


While the initial application fees are among some of the more expensive in our study, driving lessons can cost just £11 an hour.

Learners also have to pay a small processing fee to sit their practical and theory exams, setting them back roughly £9.


The most expensive countries for learning to drive

Graphic to show that Ireland, The Netherlands and Finland are the most expensive countries for learning to drive, based on the costs of practical exams, theory tests, licence costs and driving lessons.


With licence application and exam fees totalling £192, Ireland is the most expensive place for young drivers to get started.

However, at £33 the cost of a driving lesson is slightly cheaper than the global average.

Despite a 12-hour minimum training requirement, learners need to hold their permit for at least 6 months before they can sit their practical test.

The Netherlands

At £107, the Netherlands has the most expensive driving test of any country included in our study.

The Dutch theory exam is also among one of the most expensive at £32, and licence application fees are almost twice the international average.


Finland's exam fees and driving lesson costs are among some of the most expensive in the world.

However, a standard driving licence also qualifies learners to drive a tractor or motorised sleigh. So, although it may be a bit bizarre to some non-locals,  it could also be viewed as a bit of a bargain.

Due to hazardous weather conditions in Finland, learners are taught how to drive on slippery surfaces. This falls under Finland’s mandatory 18 hours of training for all learner drivers.


Countries with the most difficult theory test

A graphic to show that Finland, Sweden and The Netherlands are the most difficult countries to pass a car theory test.]

Finland - 70 questions, 83% correct to pass

Consisting of 70 questions, Finish motorists need to answer at least 58 correctly in order to pass their theory test.

To add an extra level of difficulty, each of the exams' 3 sections has its own individual pass mark. So failing just one section means failing the whole thing.

Sweden - 70 questions, 74% correct to pass

In order to pass the Swedish theory test, or Kunskapsprov, applicants need to answer 52  of 70 questions correctly.

In Sweden, both driving exams are typically taken on the same day. And even if you fail the theory test, you’re still allowed to proceed to the practical section.

The Netherlands - 65 questions, 74% correct to pass

The Dutch theory test consists of 65 questions across 3 categories, with a pass mark of 74%. This means you have to answer at least 48 correctly in order to pass.

The test features the usual questions on road rules and hazards. But it also has an  insights section, which asks drivers to apply their knowledge and make decisions for specific driving scenarios.


Countries with the least difficult theory test

Graphic to show that the Czech Republic, Iceland and Lithuania are the countries with the least difficult theory test for new drivers

Czech Republic- 25 questions, 86% correct to pass

While the Czech theory test has just 25 questions, the ones you have to answer on the day are chosen from a list of 800.

Thankfully, the full list is available on the Ministry of Transport website along with practice tests, so drivers can test their knowledge beforehand.

Iceland - 30 questions, 77% correct to pass

Divided into 2 parts, the Icelandic driver knowledge exam consists of 30 questions and examinees have 45 minutes to complete it.

In order to pass, participants must have no more than 2 errors in the first section and 5 errors in the second.

Lithuania - 30 questions, 80% correct to pass

The Lithuanian theory exam tests learners' knowledge across 9 categories, including vehicle knowledge and when to give way to other road users.

Examinees have just 30 minutes to answer 30 questions and have to get 24 correct in order to pass.


Louise Thomas, car insurance expert at Confused.com said;

“It's an exciting time when first getting your licence. But as the latest research shows, it might be easier for some learners than others.

“And when you do finally pass your test, you might find that running a car can also be expensive. But although some costs can be high, there are also always ways to keep costs down. This is great news for new drivers who just want to enjoy being behind the wheel.

“For example, car insurance prices in the UK do have a reputation of being higher than average for new drivers. But it doesn’t mean that new drivers have to pay  more than they should when they finally pass their test. Shopping around and comparing quotes between insurers help drivers find the best deals. Other options such as adding a named driver, or opting for a black box policy could also help with costs.

“Learning to drive is a challenge in itself, but the price you pay for car insurance doesn’t have to be. There’s enough to worry about as a new driver, but hopefully not having to worry about overpaying for car insurance can make that final step a little easier.”