Norwegian Language Blog

Driving with no Licence in Norway Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

Whenever somebody is doing øvelseskjøring, there’s a sign with a red L in the rear window. (Image manipulated by me, using a photo kindly provided by Norsk Elbilforening at Flickr, CC License.(

Whenever somebody is doing øvelseskjøring, there’s a sign with a red L in the rear window. (Image manipulated by me, using a photo kindly provided by Norsk Elbilforening at Flickr, CC License.)

Have you ever been driving behind a really slow car with a red L in the rear window? If it was in Norway, it meant that the driver in front of you was doing øvelseskjøring! The word means ”practice driving”, and as far as I’m aware, the thing only exists in Norway…

Det er veldig dyrt å ta lappen i Norge. (It’s very expensive to get a driving licence in Norway.) In fact, i gjennomsnitt (on average) people spend 30.000 Kroner to obtain a førerkort (licence – also called ”lappen”, ”the slip”). That’s about 3600 US dollars! And if you’re one of those Norwegians who happen to live in grisgrendte strøk (sparsely populated areas), where the nearest shopping mall or hospital may be hours away, you’ll have a hard time getting around uten bil (without a car).

So, to make people a little less dependent on expensive kjøretimer (driving lessons) with a kjørelærer (driving instructor), the Norwegian government, way back, made it possible to practice driving with somebody who’s not an official instructor (like a parent or a friend). If you want to øvelseskjøre (”practice drive”), you must

• take a theoretical test about trafikk (currently it’s called trafikalt grunnkurs)

være minst 16 år gammel (be at least 16 years of age)

The person sitting in passasjersetet (the passenger’s seat) next to you in førersetet (the driver’s seat), must

ha førerkort (have a driver’s licence)

være minst 25 år gammel

• havde at least 5 years of erfaring (experience) as a driver (of that particular kind of kjøretøy, vehicle. There are different groups – I don’t really know the details here…)

So, the next time you find yourself trapped behind that red L, be a little patient before you tuter med bilhornet (honk your horn)! The Norwegian landskap is too beautiful for road rage, anyway. 🙂

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Eileen Hjertum:

    We have a similar system in Australia. We call them Learners and they have to display the “L” plate when they drive. Zero alcohol allowed and no more than 1 passenger, other than the Open licensed driver. After 1 year of practice they can be tested and get a “P1” plate. This shows other drivers that this person may still be new to somethings and to give them time to make the right decisions on the road. After 1 year of good driving they can get a “P2” plate, and are allowed to have a car full of friends and one more year after that they can get what we call an Open license. You can them drive at any time of day or night, with as many people in the car as you like.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Eileen Hjertum Hei Eileen, thank you for sharing this information! I did not know that there was a similar system in Australia. That’s quite interesting – also that you’ve got 2 more plates in addition to the L. The Norwegian process hasn’t got so many step, it’s more like ”learning period” – ”done”.

  2. Vivian White:

    In British Columbia Canada we have a graduated driving license. We have an “L” for those learning and after 12 months they can apply for their “N” or novice license. They cannot drive at night and they are limited to one passenger. Then they graduate to a regular license.

  3. Vivian White:

    We have a 3 step licensing in British Columbia, Canada. The first is an “L”.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Vivian White Hei Vivian, thank you for this information about licensing in BC. It’s quite interesting, also compared to what Eileen wrote about Australia and Ryan about Ireland. 🙂 Looks like this isn’t so special for Norway as I thought. It’s great to learn new things like this. Thanks for the link!

  4. Ryan:

    We do this in Ireland too 🙂
    But the red L is slightly thicker

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Ryan @Ryan Okay, that’s nice to know! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.