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Ten things for foreigners to know when learning to drive in Denmark

Foreign residents from outside the EU are sometimes required to learn and take a driving test in Denmark – even if they can already drive. We asked driving instructors and foreign drivers in Denmark for their best advice.

Ten things for foreigners to know when learning to drive in Denmark
We asked foreign drivers and driving instructors for their tips on learning to drive in Denmark. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Do a bit of homework

A bit of home study and focus on technical aspects – which may be different from other countries where you have driving experience – can set you on your way, according to both an instructor and a testee.

“Starting from attending the theory classes, a consistent focus on the technical instructions when you are driving with your instructor is extremely important”, Martin Kremmling, a driving instructor from Næstved, told The Local.

“I found the driving licence handbook very helpful, especially when I had to understand the uniquely Danish technical and theoretical aspects of driving,” Kiama Chola, a Kenyan expat who previously held an American driving licence, said.

Rosa Camero, a Mexican native who had driven for almost two decades prior to moving to Denmark, said it was like starting from scratch. “What helped me pass my theory test was taking online tests every single day,” she said.

Prepare yourself psychologically 

Getting started on your journey to getting a driving licence in Denmark requires preparing oneself psychologically.

“When you are behind the wheel of a car, your mental strength is what will help you in driving safely and efficiently,” says Kremmling.

Learn to drive from the passenger’s seat

Unlike in many other countries, Denmark does not allow a learner’s permit that allows students to continue practising their driving with a parent or someone with a valid driver’s licence. Therefore, many students have to pay to drive with their instructors

“Understandably, the process of getting a driver’s licence in Denmark is expensive. But, a student can learn by just being a passenger,” says Kremmling.

“If you can sit in the passenger’s seat and see how the driver prepares and manoeuvres, it will go a long way in helping when you are behind the steering wheel”.

Maya Pandya, an Indian native who moved to Denmark, agrees.

“It helped me to observe and learn while sitting next to my husband as he drove, especially changing speeds from the highways to city limits, and at the roundabouts,” she said.

Find the driving school and the language of instruction that is best for you

“I had to find the right school and instructor before investing my time and money in getting my driver’s licence,” Hina Akram, who moved from Pakistan to Copenhagen, told The Local.

Akram chose Urdu to be the language of instruction and tests. While this was helpful in overcoming the language barrier, she notes that some terms don’t have exact translations from Danish.

Some Danish schools offer driving instructions in various languages – this will often be stated on the school’s website, or you can call them to find out. When taking the practical test, if a foreign language is chosen, a translator will have to be hired at an extra fee of around 1,000 kroner.

READ ALSO: What to know about taking the Danish driving test as a foreigner

Communication is key

Open communication is key to success, according to some who learned to drive in Denmark after moving here.

“My first driving school and instructor were not a good fit for me, as I could not fully understand them. It changed when I changed my school and instructor, whom I could understand and ask any question, no matter how silly it may have sounded,” Chola says.

Driving instructor Deniz Cicek said he modifies his teaching based on his student’s level of manoeuvring.

“For some of my foreign students, I had to begin with teaching them to manoeuvre a shopping trolley before letting them sit behind the steering wheel”, says Cicek.

Civek said he uses videos on TikTok and YouTube to engage his students and for them to take note of driving safely while learning how to master the theory and road tests.

READ ALSO: How and when should I exchange my foreign driving licence for a Danish one?

Respect and acknowledge uniquely Danish road safety needs

“Despite being from the EU, driving in Denmark – especially in Copenhagen – is quite different,” said Kristel, an Estonian who moved from London. She had to be especially aware of the biking lanes and bikers in Denmark.

“I encourage my foreign students, especially those from outside of Europe, to understand key signs on the road, arrows and lanes that they may not be familiar with, before getting started,” Kremmling said, adding that he encourages his students to begin with cycling to understand traffic and develop better judgement around safe driving.

“I was learning new terms for the first time. For instance, ‘unconditional give way duty’. I worked with my instructor to really understand how it plays out while driving,” Pandya said.

Remember “mirror-mirror-shoulder”

Every instructor will tell their students this well before they turn the ignition.

“Checking your rear-view mirror, the side mirror, and looking over your shoulder should become natural for every driver,” says Kremmling.

This is echoed by Cicek. “The mirror-mirror-shoulder check is probably the most important thing in a practical exam. Every practical test examiner will be looking at you if you have checked your mirrors and looked over your shoulder”, he says.

“Road safety is taken seriously and being meticulous is the way to being a safe and successful driver in Denmark. Especially so in the city centres, where there are many cyclists on the side lanes – so one has to be extra vigilant,” Chola notes.

Try not to stress about the exam

“Most of my foreign students who fail their exams seem to be taken over by stress,” says Kremmling.

One way to avoid this is prioritisation, according to Camero.

“It can be overwhelming and stressful to remember everything at once. So, I prioritised based on what I saw on online tests and what my driving instructor said would be important. That helped a lot,” she said.

Another way is to imagine driving with your instructor.

“For your practical test, it can be nerve-wracking for foreign students to be driving with someone they are meeting for the first time. I always suggest that they imagine that they are driving with their driving instructor, with whom they have established a comfort level,” Cicek says.

Use online resources to prepare

Several sites offer practice theory tests. These include Teoriklar, Sikkertrafik and Bedrebilist.

“It is worth investing in as it helped me pass my theory after having been unsuccessful without these online tests two previous times,” says Pandya.

Know that the practical test evaluators are on your side

At the end of it all, both Kremmling and Cicek emphasise that students need not fear test evaluators but consider them as allies in their process.

“They are nice and there to help”, says Cicek.

Kremmling echoes the same sentiment: “the evaluators are experienced and understand how stressful this can be, particularly for a foreign student.”

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For members


What to know about taking the Danish driving test as a foreigner

Acquiring a Danish driving licence after moving to the country isn’t necessarily a straightforward procedure. Here are six key things to know.

What to know about taking the Danish driving test as a foreigner

Public transport and cycling are good options for travel within Denmark, especially in times of surging gas prices. But using the country’s landeveje (B-roads) and motorveje (motorways) is a vital way for many people to traverse the country.

As a foreign resident, getting a Danish driving licence can be an expensive and sometimes complex affair. Some banks even offer loans to learner drivers, given the expense of lessons and tests.

Here are six things that you need to know about the Danish driving licence (for a manual or automatic car).

Who can apply?

Anyone with a CPR (personal registration) number indicating normal residency in Denmark and a photo ID can apply. A Danish driving licence cannot be issued if your right to drive has been restricted, suspended or revoked in another EU or EEA country.

If you already have a driving licence issued in another country and want to exchange it for a Danish licence, there are clear directions on how this is to be done. These can be found on the official website.

READ ALSO: How and when should I exchange my foreign driving licence for a Danish one?

Anyone who is aged 17 years and 9 months to 70 years old can apply. You must also provide a certificate from your GP saying you are fit to take driving lessons.

What languages can you expect driving schools to offer lessons in?

Many driving schools offer lessons in Danish and English. In major cities, you might find driving schools offering lessons in other foreign languages too.

What is expected of you from a driving school?

You will need to provide your driving school with a passport photo as well as the, medical certificate from your GP or doctor, mentioned above. A fee of around 500 kroner is payable for the certificate.

Driving lessons usually cost between 12,000 and 15,000 kroner excluding the mandatory first aid course. Payment maybe possible in instalments, depending on the school’s policy.

How many lessons and courses do you need to go through before your first driving test?

The lesson requirement is structured as follows:

  • 29 lessons (minimum 45 mins each) of theory lessons
  • 16 lesson (minimum 45 mins each) of practical lessons with an instructor, driving in traffic
  • Four lessons of driving on a manoeuvre lane (manøvrebane), where you practice with an instructor’s guidance.
  • Four lessons of skid pan (glatbane) training, where you are required to drive safely on different surfaces including gravel, water, and icy roads, with instructions given over a radio. This is meant to help you understand the key rules of braking, accelerating, and maintaining your speed under different circumstances.
  • Eight hours of first aid training. This is a mandatory element of the driving licence.

It should be noted that above information on theory and practical lessons is indicative of the minimum requirements. In the event that your instructor recommends that you take more lessons, you might need to pay extra for each of these lessons, since this may not be covered in the initial pricing structure. Assessment can vary between different schools and instructors.

What does the theory test involve?

In the theory test, you must answer 25 questions in 30 minutes about different scenarios and how you, as a driver, would react.

All questions are multiple choice and some might have more than one correct answer. They all use a photo or visual aid. You can only have up to five errors in this test. Once you have passed the theory test, you can apply to have your practical driving test. Your passed theory test has a validity of 18 months.

Many schools allow the theory test to be taken manually. Here, the audio of the questions and multiple choices is played with a visual, and you have to mark “Yes” or “No” against the options. If you are more comfortable with the digital version of the test option, you may need to pay extra for this.

Examples of theory test questions can be found online, including on website

What do I need to know about the practical test?

Once you have passed your theory test, your driving instructor or driving school will apply for a date for you to take your practical driving test. If you need a translator for the test, you can request one.

You will be able to take your practical test in the car in which you took your lessons. An evaluator will be present as a passenger next to you throughout the test. You will be asked to drive, make specific turns, park and demonstrate other manoeuvres. The test begins with a quiz about the technical specifications of the vehicle. The entire test takes about 30-45 minutes.

The purpose of this test is to ensure that you have the confidence, knowledge and ability to drive the car safely — both for yourself and other road users including cyclists, as well as pedestrians.

On successfully passing the exam, you will receive a stamp from the Police and Danish Road Traffic Agency (Færdselsstyrelsen). If you don’t pass the exam and need to take the test again, you will have to pay the 1,000 kroner fee for a new test.