Swedes in US also face driving licence hassle

Getting a driving licence in Sweden involves jumping through endless hoops for the second time, but Swedes going to the other side of the Pond also need to start from scratch. However, the time and cost are only a fraction and the difficulty level is much lower.

Åsa Andersson Harding recently moved to Massachusetts with her American husband. Massachusetts law requires Åsa to successfully pass the written and driving test. The limit of validity of her Swedish licence is also one year. Åsa recounts the first stage of her experience.

“I went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to ask about the tests. There was some misunderstanding and they sent me to a computer terminal to take the test. I hadn’t prepared for it, but thought it would be good experience. I was surprised that when I got 15 questions right –and I don’t know how many I had got wrong – I got the message that I had passed. Test over.”

With the written test complete, Åsa now only needs to take the practical driving test. Their Volvo XC90, however, is not an acceptable test car, as the parking brake is on the floor. Test cars in Massachusetts now require a central console handbrake.

“I guess we’ll have to rent a car” Åsa told the Local. “That’s probably going to be the hardest part of getting the licence.” Rumour has it that the driving test doesn’t require more than driving around the block.

EU driving licences are valid indefinitely in Sweden. However, both Switzerland and Japan have agreements which allow an exchange of licences. Hans Mattsson from the Swedish National Road Administration (Vägverket) explained that Switzerland complies with EU standards for earning a driving licence. However, when asked why Japanese licences are exchangeable he replied, “That’s a very good question. I’ve been trying to get an answer to that for six years.”

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius