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Retirement Abroad – Driving Licenses

Driving is one of the most common and necessary skills. Whether in cities, towns or rural areas it is usually essential that the average person can drive a vehicle. With retirement abroad it will probably be necessary to obtain a new driving license. To drive legally in most countries it is necessary to attain a minimum standard of expertise. Proof of having reached such a standard is given by the government in the form of a driving license. Normally it is necessary to pass a written, theoretical or oral test to confirm comprehension of road rules, regulations, customs and laws. Then a practical test of driving to ensure that the candidate has the essential physical ability to control a vehicle in day-to-day traffic conditions is administered by approved testing personnel. Pre-test experience is offered by rijschool rotterdam which employ qualified drivers using dual controlled vehicles in which the instructor can assume control quickly in the event of an emergency.

Physical minimums are prescribed for candidate drivers. Good eyesight is important although eyesight corrected by spectacles or contact lenses does not preclude the obtaining of a driving license. Other physical disabilities can be compensated for by the use of mechanical aids or engineering changes to a vehicle which must be customized for a particular driver. The kind of coping compensation that must be observed by a driver with personal problems is usually noted on the driving license.

Age limits are common in most countries and these may vary according to the type of vehicle. On average a driver must be 18 years of age to obtain a license for a motor car but often only 16 years old for a motor cycle license. There are many other variations according to such things as the class of vehicle, the purpose for which it is being driven and the particular country concerned. In some places there is also an upper age limit after which a driver must again take a driving test, sometimes annually, to ensure that ability has not declined with advancing age. Driving licenses are almost always issued for a specific period for a set fee. On expiration renewal is frequently offered simply for payment of a further similar amount of money.

Full information about the conditions which must be fulfilled to obtain a driving license can be obtained from the appropriate government department. The particular title of the authority concerned will be a variation upon the “Traffic Department”, “Road and Transport Authority”, “Vehicle Administration Office” or simply just the “Police Department”. A good first stop for such information in any country is at a police station. It is the police who are normally responsible for enforcing driving rules, regulations and laws. Often details can be found online and in some cases any necessary application forms can be downloaded. It is usually necessary to book appointments and to pay for tests.

Most countries will allow drivers to use the licenses issued in their countries or origin for short periods. Eventually, if permanent residence in a new place is to be established, it will be necessary to obtain a local driver’s license. Some countries will issue a local license on presentation of a valid foreign one. The great barrier to this being universally offered is the major world-wide divide in driving practice. In some places the right side of the road is the correct side on which to drive and in others it is the left side. A country where it is normal to drive on the right side of the road is unlikely to exchange a local license for one from a country that drives on the left. About a quarter of all countries in the world drive on the left.

A driving license is accepted in many circumstances as a primary form of identification provided that it bear a photograph of the licensee. An international driving license is a document issued in many countries by government authorized private motoring organizations. Organizations such as, for example, the American Automobile Touring Alliance are able to issue such licenses in the U.S.A. In the United Kingdom the Automobile Association is the responsible authority for issuing such licenses. In addition to the appropriate fee an international driving license application must be supported by production of a valid local license, photographs and other personal identification. Even though an international driving permit is not strictly necessary for driving legally for short periods in most countries it is a very useful document. The American version is valid in some 150 countries and the information therein is translated into ten languages. It is therefore more than helpful for personal identification purposes almost anywhere.

All over the world the penalties for traffic offences are increasing in financial terms and many now include a detention element. Given the relative simplicity of staying on the right side of the law risking transgression is just not worth it in terms of the inconvenience, the delays to a journey that may ensue and the acquisition of a criminal record. Driving within the law is an important part of successful retirement abroad.

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