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Taking my driving test in a different country

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We Are Marmalade

December 7, 2018

Driving test Young driver stories 6 min read

Hi everyone, my name is Penelope and I wanted to share with you the story on how I learned and passed my driving test, as it’s a little out of the ordinary. I was born and raised in the UK but my driving journey didn’t start and finish here. I’ve taken a fair few manual driving lessons in the UK, but I was pretty terrible and the thought of taking the theory and the practical test was very daunting to me, so I was pretty much put off from driving. I’ve put it off for years as I’ve always had someone around who could take me to places I need to go and if not, then a taxi would!

When I moved to Hong Kong back in 2015 (I lived and worked there for 2 years), the last thing on my mind was taking my test over there. The roads were constantly busy and they were SO narrow. Parking there was expensive, and if you ever needed parking where you lived, you’d have to pay £200+ because there are no driveways or roads for you to park on. On top of that, cars were twice the price, even second-hand ones. It’s safe to say that it was far too expensive to drive and own a car in Hong Kong, so I wasn’t planning on learning to drive there – at least at first!


After being in Hong Kong for a while, I had planned to stay there for quite a while longer, and after being pressured by a few friends – I knew I’d have to pluck up the courage and learn to drive, again!

I had signed up to take my practical and theory tests and shortly after found out that no one taught privately in manual drivers. If I were to learn a manual car, I’d need to learn in a van and take my test in a van – no way! So, I decided to take an automatic test instead in a private car which I found a lot easier than when I’d attempted to drive a manual back in the UK! Again – it cost more, with each lesson working out around £50!

Taking the test!

When I received the date of my practical test, I also found out the district that I was going to be tested in, which basically meant I was able to practice the exact route which would be on my test. I was also lucky enough to be tested in a quieter area with less narrow roads. Overall, the learning was pretty easy and nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.

I took my lessons in Cantonese as I was fluent in it but decided to take both my tests in English. The theory consisted of only 20 questions, and I needed to get 16 to pass. At the end of my test, I had to wait for my name to be called to receive my results. It only stated if I had passed or not, we weren’t able to see our score.  Luckily, I passed!


The next test was the practical test – which was a few months after. It was at 9 am (way too early for me!) I nervously waited in the car for my examiner, whilst my driving instructor waited outside for me to finish. Parking was the worst for me in my lessons, so I was dreading it in the test, and would you believe – it was the first thing I had to do when I started! I was told that if I had failed the parking, then I’ve failed the rest of my test. I had to park on a slope, and the car had to be exactly inside the rectangle between 2 cars in front and behind me. I don’t know how I did, but my examiner walked out to check everything. After that, the rest of the practical test was very simple and easy.

After the practical, I drove back to the examining centre and waited patiently for my results. When they called my name, I walked up and they gave my report. I had passed my practical test too, yay!

The differences between that test and the one in the UK

I’ve never taken a test in the UK, but from what I’ve heard, it is a bit different. For first, there are more than double the amount of questions in the theory in the UK and there is also a hazard perception test. Whilst the theory test that I took only had 20 questions and no hazard perception test.

In the practical, there were 2 routes to learn so it was easy. Not sure how it works here in the UK but from what I’ve heard, you don’t really know where the test route will take you. Roundabouts are also not on the curriculum which I know many young drivers struggle within the UK.


Although I passed my test in Hong Kong, I haven’t driven whilst being back in the UK. I know it’s completely different here, so it’s needless to say, if I were to decide to drive in the UK, I will have to take a good few lessons before I could trust myself on the roads again.

Transferring my licence

I received my licence in Hong Kong and moved back to the UK just last year. I checked if I was able to transfer my licence, and yes, I could with no additional costs as I already hold a UK provisional licence too. If you don’t own a provisional licence, then you’d need to pay extra. After I sent all that off, I received my UK licence. This did mean that I couldn’t get my Hong Kong licence back.

I’ve been back in the UK for less than 2 years now and I think it’s about time for me get to back on the roads just because I know that it’ll be more convenient for me. I’ll be able to visit my family more often and travel to different places in the UK without having to pay extortionate train fare fees. But before all that, I’ll need to take a good few lessons first. And that will be my New Year’s Resolution, to be driving before 2020!

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By We Are Marmalade

'We champion young drivers with award-winning low cost insurance for learner and new drivers and a great young drivers' car scheme.'  See more posts by We Are

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