Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Step Closer to that UK Driver's License

Scott and I are both one step closer to obtaining our UK Driving Licenses....Scott passed his theory test last week and I passed my theory test today! Woo hoo!!! We are glad to be finished with that portion of the test but still have the practical exam looming over our heads. 

Obtaining a UK Driver's License as an American is not an easy task. If you come from Canada, anywhere in the EU, Singapore, Australia, or frankly anywhere else in the world - and move to the UK, all you need to do is turn in your current driving license and you will receive a new UK driver's license. No test required, no major paperwork to complete - just trade one in for the other. 

However, if you come from America and do not posses a license from any of these other countries (many people we know here do have such licenses since they were expats in other countries first), you may drive for ONE ENTIRE year on your US driver's license and then by the end of that year you must obtain a UK Driver's License. I am not complaining about having this year to drive without the hassle of obtaining a rule book or taking these tests, but I do question the fact that they allow you to drive for a full YEAR before needing to test your knowledge of the rules of the road. A tad dangerous maybe for the other drivers we might cut off in those roundabouts or scare when we accidentally pull out onto the wrong side of the road over here???

The process of course has not been simple to obtain a license. First, you must surrender your US passport (for up to 15 business/working days) to apply for and obtain a "provisional license." Then, after receiving the provisional license, you can sign up and then take this theory (written) test. After those two items are successfully completed you must sign up for and take your practical exam. After all three steps are successfully completed, you are then about 150 GBP less rich (probably plus another 150GBP for driving lessons per person!) and are also a licensed driver in the UK until the age of 70. Yes, that's correct - you take the test once and basically have a license with no renewal needed until the age of 70. 

I missed my first time slot to take my theory test due to the swine flu. Of course the driving agency would not simply let me reschedule my test over the phone. If I wanted to reschedule my test and not loose my money, they said I would have to post them a letter explaining my situation and then they would post me a response back and reschedule me another test in approximately 4-6 weeks (their choice of day and time). I am still amazed everyone POSTS letters over here to get things done. Save time and money and use the phone or the Internet!!!  So, I chose to loose my 30 GBP fee for that first test time and signed up for another test and paid another 30 GBP so I did not infect all other test takers at the driving agency with the swine flu.....

I passed my test today and after I got home tonight, I immediately called the driving instructor to book in more lessons for both Scott and myself so we can be prepared for the practical part of our driving exam. After booking the lessons, I decided to go online and schedule my practical exam time slot, since the driving centre advised me it could take up to 6 weeks to get a time slot. 

I should have known it wouldn't be that simple. I logged into the website and as I tried to book a practical exam, I received this message:


30 July to 4 August

For essential IT maintenance work to take place we need to close down DSA's driving test booking systems. From 5.15pm Thursday 30 July to 8.00am Tuesday 4 August, online services to book or amend practical tests will be unavailable. Theory Test services will be available as normal. Please be aware that the Contact Centre will only be able to offer a limited service during the closedown period. Please call 0300 200 11 22 for general enquiries only. DSA apologise for any inconvenience caused.

GO FIGURE! Ahh, I am just so happy to add this bit to my repertoire of great customer service experiences over here .... Hopefully someday I will become a UK Licensed Driver.

1 comment:

Iota said...

I agree with you. It seems odd that you can drive for a year without taking the test. Surely a driver would be at his/her most dangerous during his/her first year?