20 June 2013

Getting a driver's license in Uruguay

So what exactly are the requirements for an expat with a valid driver's license from their country of origin to get a driver's license in Uruguay? The answer is, it depends on where you are in Uruguay.

Uruguay has 19 administrative subdivision, like counties or provinces, called Departments. Driver's license applications are administrated by each Department, so the procedures and processes have some variation.

To provide perspective, Joe Ross, an expat living in the Atlántida, agreed to share his personal experience obtaining a Uruguayan driver's license:

As I mentioned the last time I wrote, I was told that even though I had an active Texas driver's license, I would have to take a written exam, plus a driving test. It turned out that this requirement was for Atlantida (possibly Canelones). 

Checking around a bit, I discovered that there are two other places in Uruguay where the requirements are different.

Maldonado seems to be closed during the off-season. There was no written test and no driving test - but you better get there very early, as the lines are long, and at some point they cut the line and send everyone else home.

I got my Uruguay driver's license in Montevideo. It's best to have an appointment. If you don't have an appointment, you have to fight the clerks who hand you the paperwork needed for the procedure. As it turns out, if you have an active driver's license, you don't need an appointment. (However, you will have to somehow get a supervisor to overrule the clerks, who insist that you have to have an appointment.) 

There was no written test and there was no driving test. The medical consisted of reading an eye chart, telling the doctor I was not diabetic, and closing my eyes with my hands held out in front of me to prove that I wouldn't fall over.

I then had to take a number for the final processing and picture taking. Those with an appointment wait their turn for the two stations where you have your picture taken and the necessary forms are filled in by a clerk. 

But there is a third station for people who do not have an appointment. Since I had to take a number, and there was no one else there without an appointment, I was processed ahead of many people who had appointments. The rest is easy.

Somewhere in the sequence I had to pay a few pesos and wait a few minutes while they manufactured the license complete with picture, and I was on my way.

I had been told that in Montevideo I would have to go to several different places for the entire process, but it was all done in one place, and the whole thing took about half an hour.

Final comment: I'm 78 years old, and the doctor was going to give me one year before renewal. But I flexed my arm and told him I was "fuerte," so he gave me two years.

Further Uruguay driver's license resources

Montevideo driver's license information 
Current “listed” requirements in Montevideo for getting a Uruguay driver's license if your current valid driver's license is from outside of Uruguay:
  • Your valid Uruguay cedula (Identity Card) 
  • The valid driver's license from your country of origin. 
  • A translation of your  driver's license if it is from: Japan, China, Korea, Egypt, or Israel
  • Proof that your last entry to Uruguay was less than a year ago (prove with your passport, a migration certificate, or flight ticket).
  • A medical exam issued by an approved medical facility
Online description of Driver's license application process for Montevideo 
Main driver's license webpage for Montevideo 

Editor's note: The Montevideo website lists getting a medical test at an approved clinic in order to get a driver's license. Joe, who got his license early in the year, was able to take a simple physical on the spot. I have heard other conflicting reports on this, and wonder if its a change that is gradually being implemented.

Department of Maldonado driver's license information

Department of Canelones driver's license information 
Canelones: getting driver's license for the first time
Canelones driver's license renewal information 

4 comments:

Martha said...

I got my drivers license here in San Jose de Mayo (capital of the Department of San Jose). We had gotten the manual of rules a few days before and studied. We went into the Intendencia offices and took numbers. When our turn arrived, we sat in an area with school desks and took the written test. Having read through the rules an hour before going in, I got 100% on mine. My husband, who prides himself on having been raised here and the test would be a piece of cake, had several errors; however, the clerk "worked" with him to pass. Then we had the behind-the-wheel portion of the test. Since we have a pick-up that seats two, the tester would go with my husband (around the block, stopping....nothing challenging), but given cultural quirks of the interior that frown on a woman being alone in a vehicle with a man who is not her husband, the tester elected to pass me without testing. Everything was done in one place, and we did NOT have to have a prior physical exam.

David Hammond said...

Martha, thank you very much for sharing your experience of getting your driver's license in San Jose. It's interesting how the process varies from Department to Department.

(Your comment is also a good reminder, that it never hurts to study-up.)

nirlep singh sarao said...

i am Indian and i have driver's license of Austria valid through out
Europe.is this valid in Uruguay too.
i want to move to Uruguay from India.

David Hammond said...

I believe the driver's license would be valid for you to use in Uruguay. Unfortunately, people from India cannot come to Uruguay on a tourist visa. I believe you will need to find a sponsor in Uruguay, first.