How to get a driver's license in the Czech Republic

Here's all you need to know about exchanging your license for a Czech one as well as getting an international driving permit.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 25.02.2021 15:25 (updated on 25.02.2021)

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Many people coming to the Czech Republic overlook the fact that they'll need to switch to a Czech driving license if they plan to stay for any length of time.

Driving without a valid license can cause multiple problems. Not only are drivers without a Czech license subject to stiff fines from the police, but insurance claims might not be honored after an accident.

In all cases, people who want to drive on the Czech roads must meet the Czech road requirements, including being 18 years of age or older. Those who are 17 years old, for example, can't drive a standard-size car in the Czech Republic even if they are allowed to do so other countries.

These are the steps you need to take to secure a driver's license in the Czech Republic.

Driver's license exchange EU vs. non-EU citizens

Czech driver's licence (photo: Ministerstvo dopravy)
Czech driver's licence (photo: Ministerstvo dopravy)

People who have a license issued by an EU member state or Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein, are allowed to drive and do not need to exchange their license for a Czech one. EU citizens who reside in the Czech Republic at least 185 days a year can exchange their license for a Czech one when they provide some documents such as a lease and proof of employment.

For people from outside the EU, foreign licenses can be used by for up to one year. Some conditions apply as well. If your license does not meet all of the Czech standards, you need to obtain an International Driving Permit, sometimes also called an International Driver’s License. In the U.S., for example, it can be obtained from the AAA auto club.

Someone who obtains long-term residency in the Czech Republic must also get a Czech driving license within three months of obtaining their residency, if they wish to drive.

Changing a non-EU license for a Czech one can be done only if the national license meets all the Czech road requirements and is written in the Latin alphabet. Otherwise, the driver will need to pass a Czech driving test. The latter case applies to holders of licenses from a number of EU countries including drivers from the U.S.

Getting a license: written and practical tests

Street signs (iStock/Shigapov)
Street signs (iStock/Shigapov)

To obtain a Czech driving license, people need to pass both a written and practical test. Applicants who are not fluent in Czech can use the help of a translator. The B license is for a standard vehicle such as a car or SUV.

While in some countries, people can learn on their own and simply make an appointment and take a driving test, that is not the case in the Czech Republic. Here, you need to go through an accredited driving school. The basic course outline is defined by law, and even highly experienced drivers who cannot exchange their license must take the classes.

Applicants need several units of driving instruction with an instructor from an accredited driving school. This includes both study for a written exam and for a practical driving test. A standard certificate from a doctor stating the applicant is in good enough health to drive is also required. Schools handle making the appointments for the tests.

Many schools allow for studying for the theoretical tests online, often in English or another language if needed. Practice tests can also be taken online. The written test is taken before the driving skills test.

What does the driving skills test look like?

Driving school vehicle (photo: Pavel Greiner, Autoškola KING)
Driving school vehicle (photo: Pavel Greiner, Autoškola KING)

The actual driving instruction must be done in person. It includes not only driving in traffic but also first aid and vehicle maintenance.

Something that's popular with expats is a license for driving only a car with an automatic transmission. In this case, a notation is made on the license and the driver cannot operate a car with a manual transmission, or stick shift. To upgrade the license later, a driver has to take another practical driving test but does not have to retake the written theory test.

Instructors recommend this type of license for drivers who are having a hard time mastering a stick shift, or who are nervous drivers that get overwhelmed by too many controls to manage at once. It is also good for people with disabilities that make manipulating the shift and clutch difficult.

Once all the documentation is turned in and the administrative fee is paid, it takes about 20 days to get your license.

International permits and other types of licenses

Driving school training (photo: Pavel Greiner, Autoškola KING)
Driving school training (photo: Pavel Greiner, Autoškola KING)

The Czech Republic also issues International Driving Permits for people with a Czech license who will need to drive in another country that requires one. The Czech-issued permit though, cannot be used in the Czech Republic.

The permit can be applied for in over 200 municipal offices across the Czech Republic.

Since the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, people with a Czech license can drive in other EU countries without having to get the international permit.

For motorcycles, there are four categories of licenses, depending on the age of the driver and the size of the vehicle. The A category license is for motorcycles more than 35kW and drivers over 24 years old. AM, A1, and A2 are for younger drivers and smaller bikes. The AM license allows people as young as 15 to operate a moped.

The AM license can also also be used for microcars, so people 15 and older can then drive at a speed limit of up to 45 km/hour.

Other license categories extend to buses and trucks. Many of the basics for the other licenses are the same. Both written and practical exams are required, as well as a health certificate.  

This article was written in association with English-friendly driving school Autoškola KING. Founded in 2007 by Bc. Pavel Greiner the schools offer a professional approach and excellent English as well as training on automatic cars. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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