My UK driving license expired 2 days before my residency visa arrived. I tried to renew my UK license, but the DVLC or whatever said that, as I’m now living overseas, they wouldn’t renew my license!
So I had to cough up a fair amount of cash (I can’t remember how much at the moment: maybe £100-£150??) – and take 6 instructional lessons of about 90 minutes each over about 10 days, then sit a very easy multiple choice test which I completed in 10 minutes. I also booked one driving lesson.
This is what most of the learner driver cars look like…
I have been driving automatics for most of the time over the last 25 years, but my wife has a manual car in the UK. As I wanted to drive this when we’re in the UK for the summer, this meant that I had to take lessons and pass my test in a manual/stick shift car.
Boy, was that hard!
My instructor gave me HELL! He was a very nice guy, but he constantly criticised my driving during those 30 minutes. I was only planning to take one lesson to get a few tips – after all: I’m a good driver! 🙂
However my guy gave me such strong feedback about the quality of my driving that I decided to book 2 more lessons! I’m glad I did this as you need to know the official way to approach a roundabout, say, if you are going across it regarding which lane to be in, when and how you indicate etc.
The driving test itself was hilarious: around 7.30am about 30 of us piled into a bus, each of us with a numbered ticked. The coach followed a car with 2 officials inside. Person number 1 got out of the coach and into the car and drove off for his *5-minute* driving test which was just round the local area, negotiating roundabouts mainly. After 5 minutes he got out, was passed a certificate from the official in the back seat if he passed, and he was left by the side of the road to get a taxi. Then number 2 person got out of the coach and climbed into the car for his test. I was one of the last on the coach so I watched nearly 30 people before me take their tests. Almost all my fellow passengers were Pakistani or Indian men.
Some drivers drove so badly that their test was over in less than one minute!! They’d drive out into the traffic without looking in their mirror or indicating. One veered across the dotted line into the traffic coming in the opposite direction! It was like watching a comedy sketch on TV! For one of the guys who failed so spectacularly this was his third test. And I believe that you *have* to have 40 30-minute driving lessons if you are starting from scratch, so gosh knows how they can drive so badly after so many lessons
After an hour and a half of going round and round the same area of Al Ain, following this car, it was my turn. My driving instructor of the days before told me to show the official my expired UK driving license and explain that I have been driving in the UK for more than 25 years, which I did. I was very nervous as I was so desperate to be driving a car again, but the official next to me was quite chatty and I soon calmed down, and it was all over after 5 minutes, I got out and was given my certificate. I was now dumped by the side of the road.
However enterprising taxi drivers had been following our coach over the previous 90 minutes, picking up the dumped drivers, so there was one ready to pick me up and take me back home. He was manically happy for me that I’d passed. Back at my place he demanded a fee of 25 AED (£5), which I refused to pay, and gave him 6 AED which would have been about the fee if he had put his meter on. He was furious with me and ranted away, but I just got out and walked off!
I forget how I got the paper certificate transformed into a silver plastic credit card with my photo on it, but it was very straight forward.