"Driving school Uber" looks to bring down cost of a licence

The cost of getting a driving license in Finland could be set to fall, as new technology—including one service billing itself as the 'Uber of driving instructors'—enters the market.

Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

A Finnish driving license can cost between 1,200 euros and 3,000 euros, once all the tuition, tests and paperwork is accounted for. That price could be set to tumble if a new service takes off.

The ratti.fi website aims to match qualified instructors with new students. At present some 80 percent of students learn via driving schools, with the rest learning from a family member who has passed a basic course.

It’s the family instructors the new service will utilise. A recent change in the law allows them to teach a limited number of learners from outside their own family. The ratti.fi website will make it much easier for them to find those new students.

The Automobile and touring association of Finland (Autoliitto) estimates that a license acquired in this way costs around 1,200 euros, with car rental costs coming on top of that.

Some driving schools, however, charge in excess of 3,000 euros, although this varies according to the amount of tuition required. The minimum required by law is 18 50-minute lessons.

Ratti.fi, meanwhile, is offering tuition for the basic "B" license at 499 euros. Including all the charges for tests and a wet-weather lesson on a special track, the cost rises to 855 euros.

Driving schools: New service enables tax evasion

Driving schools have criticised the new service as a gateway to tax dodging, but Autoliitto Managing Director Pasi Nieminen sees it as a valuable competitor.

"We just have this driving school system that has centralised almost all of the teaching," said Nieminen. "Of course there is a certain amount of special interest lobbying from the industry. In my opinion this is a clear case where we need to simplify the regulation."

Nieminen says that online teaching should be in wider use for theory teaching, as that is common elsewhere in Europe.

One year ago a working group at the Transport Ministry recommended that tuition be less regulated, with candidates forced to get only the tuition they need to pass the test. The model cited was that in operation in Sweden. 

Government ministers will have to decide whether to implement those changes during the course of next year.