New immigrants to Israel will now face fewer stumbling blocks when converting their foreign drivers’ licenses to Israeli ones, MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) announced on Monday.
“Over the last few months I have received many complaints from olim having difficulties switching their licenses after driving decades in Western countries,” Lipman said. “The regulations made no sense.”
New immigrants to Israel have up to three years to take a “control test” – an abbreviated road test to demonstrate control over the vehicle, according to a Transportation Ministry description of the test. The immigrants are permitted, however, to drive in Israel on their foreign drivers’ licenses alone for their first year in the country.
Previously, if immigrants failed the control test twice, they were required to take full theory and practical driving exams.
According to the new regulations, if an immigrant fails two control tests, he or she will only be required to take the full practical driving exam, without the theory exam.
Meanwhile, immigrants who enlisted in the IDF will have more than the allotted three years to complete the conversion process, providing they display a certificate of service to the Licensing Authority, the regulations say.
The Knesset received confirmation that the Transportation Ministry had officially approved the new regulations in the first week of May.
Lipman called for a meeting with the Absorption and Immigration Committee meeting, chaired by MK Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid), in November, during which he addressed Transportation Ministry officials about ongoing hurdles olim face when converting their licenses.
First and foremost, Lipman said he felt that the rule allowing olim to drive in Israel for a year without exchanging their licenses is no less than “ridiculous.”
If they are allowed to drive for that year without an Israeli license, then they clearly do not present a danger to the roads, he argued.
In addition, he told ministry officials that the demand to take a theory test upon failing two control tests was unfair, and presented an obstacle that many olim were unable to overcome.
Upon receiving word that the Transportation Ministry had canceled the necessity for the theory test and allowed for soldiers to convert their licenses beyond the three-year window, Lipman said that he is “proud of these two achievements.”
“It will make a difference in the life of olim who have been struggling with senseless bureaucracy,” he said.
Razbozov thanked Lipman for raising the issue, as well as the Transportation Ministry for following through with the committee’s recommendations.
“We need to remember that even though some of the olim might be new, they are very experienced drivers that have a hard time navigating the bureaucracy,” Razbozov said.
“This decision will benefit these olim, and allow them to be more successful and independent.”