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How to drive in Greece

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Driving in Greece is not for the faint of hearted. Apart from the logistics of converting your driving licence or having to sit the test to be issued a new one, there’s also the very real issue of reckless driving. Although the roads are quite good and the scenic views in more remote areas make for enjoyable driving, the way people drive in the cities may come as a shock at first. To be safe, you will need to learn to drive defensively.

In general, the logistics of driving in Greece are not that different from other countries. Like most non-British countries, driving is done on the right-hand side of the road. The minimum age to legally obtain a driver’s licence and drive a car is 18 years old (16 years old for AM-class vehicles), but to most car-rental companies will ask that you are 21 of age and have had your licence for at least one year already.

Converting your driver’s licence

If your driver’s licence was issued in an EU country, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, then it’s valid in Greece, as long as you meet the Greek minimum driving age for your vehicle category. You’ll only need to exchange it for a Greek one when it expires. If you’re not an EU citizen but your licence was issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, South Africa, South Korea or the USA, you are eligible to exchange it for a Greek one -- and should do so, after 185 days. Note that it does not matter what citizenship or nationality you have; it only matters that the licence is still valid and issued by one of the countries listed above.

Until you convert your licence to a Greek one (or apply for a new one from scratch), you should carry an International Driver’s Licence (IDL or IDP) along with your foreign one. The IDL is a multilingual, internationally-recognised document that although it does not replace your driver's licence, it accompanies it and acts as an official certificate of validity.

Once the time comes to convert your driver’s licence to a Greek one, you can do so at a Citizen Service Centre (KEP) or at a Transport and Communications Department office. You will need the following:

  • An application form
  • A copy of your passport
  • A valid driving licence, translated and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- or a lawyer, or the embassy/ consulate back in your home country. In any case, the Consul's signature must still be authenticated by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • A copy of your Residence Permit issued at least 185 days before the application
  • One passport-sized photo
  • Proof (receipt) that you have paid stamp duty at a Public Tax Office (Eforia)
  • A document from the licence issuing authority (and a certified translation), stating all details of the licence and its holder and confirming that the licence is still valid.
  • A health certificate, issued by one of the GPs that are registered with the local Transport and Communications Department
  • Proof of good eye-sight, issued by one of the ophthalmologists that registered with the local Transport and Communications Department

Once your Greek driving licence is ready for collection, you will be informed by SMS or by telephone. Until then, your original driving licence will be held by the Greek authorities.

Types of driver’s licence

There are different types of licences in Greece, based on the type of vehicle you wish to drive, and the age limit varies slightly for each:

  • AM (mopeds with a design speed of over 25 Km/h and under 45 Km/h): 16 years
  • A1 (motorcycles with a cylinder capacity not exceeding 125cc): 18 years
  • A2: (motorcycles not exceeding 35 kW): 20 years
  • B1 (four-wheeled light vehicles): 18 years
  • B (cars), 18 years
  • C1 (medium-sized vehicles) 18 years

Driving tests

Studying for your driver’s licence is not expensive, with many schools offering classes for as low as 350 euros. On the day of your test, be aware that you may be asked to pay a bribe of 200 euros. You should proceed with this at your own discretion, as, while this has become a somewhat normalised practise, it isn't legal.

The actual driving test consists of two parts: theory and practise. On the theory side you have a multiple choice theoretical test -- it’s picture based, so you’ll only need a minimal knowledge of Greek to understand it. Once you’ve passed the theoretical test, you can take the practical one, which consists of actually driving. It is no less than 25 minutes for categories AM, A1, A2 B and BE, and 45 minutes for all other categories. Your instructor will be in the car with you in addition to two examiners.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Transport -- driver’s licence documents (in Greek)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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