Is it easy or difficult to learn to drive in Pakistan?

Pakistan is a wonderful country to explore by car or motorbike. If you live in Pakistan or you are visiting long-term, then you may want to consider getting a Pakistani driver’s licence. Recently, the government of Pakistan declared that foreigners could drive using a valid licence from their home country, however, you only are allowed to drive with a foreign licence for a period of time before you are expected to obtain a conversant driving licence. 

If you are only going to be in the country only for a few weeks, then you should be ok with only your licence for your home country. If you are planning to stay longer than a month, then it may be in your best interest to learn the traffic laws of Pakistan and obtain a local licence. But, not to worry. Obtaining a driving licence in Pakistan is quite easy and extremely inexpensive. In fact, Pakistan ranks 19th among 30 of the easiest places to become a legal driver in the world, according to this study by Zutobi, a provider of driver courses in the United States.

That being said, there is a difference between how easy it is to get your driving licence in Pakistan versus how easy it is to learn to drive in Pakistan. First, let us talk about how easy the process is to becoming a legal driver in Pakistan. If you are 18-years old or older, then you qualify to go through the process of obtaining your driving licence in Pakistan. This means that even if you are a valid licensed driver in your home country but you are under the age of 18, you still may not be allowed to obtain a licence in Pakistan. There may be some exceptions to this rule depending on where your licence was issued, however, you should check with your local National Highways and Motorway Police office located in your district to make sure you can operate a motor vehicle within the law. 

If you already have a driver’s licence from your home country and you are over the age of 18, then the process is quite easy. If you are over 18 but do not have a valid licence from your home country, then you will need to obtain a driver learner’s permit before you can take the theory and practical tests to obtain your Pakistani driving licence. You need to practise driving with a learner’s permit for a minimum of 42-days before you can sign up for any of the driving tests. The permit is valid for 6-months. 

In order to start the process of converting your foreign driver’s licence to a Pakistani licence, you most likely need to go to a National Highways and Motorway Police office in person. Once you are there, You should present your original CNIC or passport, laboratory results that classifies which blood group you belong to, and your foreign driver’s licence. After your information has been collected, you then will undergo a brief medical exam that will test your eyesight, hearing, blood pressure, and anything else that may be necessary to determine you are fit to drive.

After the brief medical exam, you then will go through another process of identity verification and information collection. Additional information will be collected about your permanent address, your current address, phone number, email address, blood type, passport number, CNIC number, old licence information, and any other information that may be relevant to your driver’s licence application. 

The next step includes submitting biometric information. The National Highways and Motorway Police will most likely collect your thumbprint, have you digitally sign your signature, and take several digital photographs to be entered into the Central DataBase of the DLA. 

Once all personal information and biometrics are collected and the medical exam is passed, then you are ready to take the theory test. The theory test has two portions. The first portion is the Traffic Signs Test which you need to score a minimum of 90% to pass. The second portion is the Traffic Rules test which you need to pass with a score of 70% or higher. Each test only has 10 questions, and if you study ahead of time, they should take no longer than a few minutes to complete using a touchscreen. 

Once you pass the theory portion of the Pakistani driver’s exam, you are ready for the practical test. The practical test also comes in two portions. Typically the first portion of the practical test is demonstrating simple driving skills while the second portion may cover more detailed and advanced skills like parking and navigating narrow roadways. 

If you pass both the theory and practical test, then you will be issued a Pakistani driver’s licence. One special note to consider before taking the theory or practical driving test in Pakistan. If you are an official diplomat with a valid foreign licence, then you are exempted from taking the theory and practical driving tests.Additionally, if you are a valid and licensed driver from one of the 53 countries that Pakistan has identified as exempt from needing to take the theory and practical driving tests, then all you may need is a letter from your home country’s licensing authority. 

As you can see the process to obtaining a driver’s licence can be incredibly simple, and it is even simpler if you are already a licensed driver in your home country. Not only is the process simple, but it is cheap. The entire process including the application fees and test fees should cost you not more than approximately Rs2600 or £11. 

Although the process of obtaining a driver’s licence is easy in Pakistan, actually learning to drive can be a little more difficult. If you are learning to drive in a modern city like Islamabad, then you may be pleasantly surprised to see all the roads are well taken care of, traffic laws are enforced, and driver’s are more conscious of others who share the road. Outside of modern cities or in other cities that lack the infrastructure that Islamabad has, you may find road conditions to be abysmal and drivers to be impatient and sometimes reckless. 

Additionally, if you are out in the countryside, you may find some of the best scenic motorways that can be enjoyable to drive, however, there are also some of the most dangerous roads in the world located in the mountains of Pakistan. Be wary of Shimshal, Charpursan Valley, Gilgit, and Fairy meadows road. These roads are known by locals as death traps that claim several drivers every year. 

Pakistan at a glance (19th easiest to become a legal driver)

  • Driving age: 18
  • Driving test cost: £1
  • Theory test required: Yes
  • Practical test required:Yes
  • Eye test required: Yes
  • Medical test required: Yes
  • Hours of lessons before practical test: No


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