On Tuesday, 6th November 2012, at 9.15am (roughly), i shouted all over my Facebook page that i PASSED! That’s right Step 5 of getting my Swiss Driver’s License, the final step – DONE! i was so happy – still am!
i have not blogged about it till now because… well, life got in the way (so to speak) and i wanted to do an accurate total tally of the amount of time and money spent to be able to legally drive in Switzerland. (Read here for how all this started.)
So first let’s go back to Tuesday – Practical Test Day:
My test was 8am in the morning, which was good because then i would not have to spend the whole morning pacing and worrying. The day before i had my last driving lesson and on the morning of the test, we did a short review about half an hour before the test.
My tester (is that what you them?), Herr (Mr) Niederberger was friendly and greeted us (me and my driving instructor) with a nice warm handshake. i had a good feeling. ( i also had lots of people praying for me – thank you guys – you know who you are 😉 )
So we drove out of the parking lot, down some familiar roads, then into a 30km zone (Switzerland has lots of these, especially in residential areas) where i did parallel parking, which i did well due to good training with my instructor. (i was never so confident about parallel parking before.) Then we drove a little further and he asked me to stop and then reverse along the road (in German: fahren rückwärts entlang der Strasse). i wasn’t sure what he talking about, so i assume it was a 3-point turn (in German: wenden). He stopped the car and i gave him a confused look. He asked what i was doing wrong. More blank looks from me. He asked if i learnt this at my lessons. i said no. Then he heaved a great sigh and proceeded to teach me how to do it there and then. At this point, i thought i had failed the test.
It turned out that in Switzerland, if you have to reverse more than 10km on a stretch of road, you have to switch to the opposite side, so you are going in the right direction of the traffic, then reverse slowly. Now i know.
Anyhow, since i thought i failed, i said to myself, “Might as well enjoy the ride.” So i drove in a quite carefree manner but still keeping to all the rules though.
We got back to the test centre and my driving instructor was waiting for us in the carpark. i parked the car and then we sat in the car and talked. He asked my driving instructor about the reversing part. She said we did do that but only once and near the beginning of my lessons with her. Then he said that besides that incident, everything else was good and congratulated me! i could not believe my ears and you can imagine how my heart leapt.
Sigh! A huge relief!
My instructor was so happy too. And right here, i would like to publicly thank Ms Fiona Croci for being such a wonderful and patient teacher. If anyone living in my area needs a driving instructor, i highly recommend her. (Visit her website here – she has really helpful links and explains clearly all the steps needed to get your license, in German though. Plus she speaks English, High German and Swiss German.)
Now how long did it take me from beginning to end? (Read about the 5 steps here.)
It took me almost 11 months from the start of my first aid course to the day i passed the practical. But it can be done in a shorter time. My problem was that i had to wait till husband was around to look after the boy before i could go attend all the classes. And sometimes the class times just didn’t work out for me.
i’m actually still not quite done yet – i still have to do what they call, “Zweiphrasenausbildung”, second phrase training. You have to do 2 sessions within 3 years of passing the practical test (my current license is provisional and i only get the permanent one upon attending these sessions and of course not committing major offences in those 3 years.) My friend said it is basically like a practice session and they also teach you to be environmentally friendly and a few other emergency techniques. Sounds interesting but it is going to cost more money – sigh!
So how much did it costs in total?
- First Aid Course = CHF 140
- Eye Test = CHF 20
- Theory Self-learning CD = CHF 59
- Theory Test = CHF 30
- Learner’s Permit = CHF 60
- Verkehrskundenskur (Additional Theory Classes) = CHF 200
- Materials Costs at VKK = CHF 30
- Train Costs to get to class = CHF 80.80
- Insurance to take practical lessons = CHF 80
- Practical Lessons (13x lessons @ CHF90) = CHF 1170
- Practical Test (paid to Traffic Department) = CHF 120
- Practical Test Day (paid to instructor for her time waiting & car usage) = CHF180
- Provisional Driver’s Permit (valid for 3 years) = CHF 50
- TOTAL COSTS to date = CHF 2219.80
This is not including the 2 sessions of the Zweiphrasenausbildung which can costs up to CHF 700.
So to get a final, permanent Swiss Driver’s License (after the 3 years provisional period) would cost me CHF 2919.80 (almost CHF 3000). And this is taking into account i already knew how to drive so did not have to start from scratch when taking practical lessons. If you are starting at the very beginning, i would most definitely add a few more practical lessons to that equation.
i hope this detailed account and costs breakdown helps someone.