Licensed to Drive in Thailand

The thought of getting my Thai driver’s license is not quite as exciting as the first drivers license I obtained in California 21 years ago. The excitement is gone, and now it is just a hassle. So what is the best way to get your driver’s license in Thailand?
I will explore all the options. Getting a Thai license when you have a driving license from your home country that is in English. What do do if you have an international driving license, and of course what to do if you do not have a license or if your license is in any language other than English and will be starting from scratch.
Anyone that has been here any length of time knows that getting things done in Thailand is as simple and straightforward as I can write in a blog post. We all know that TIT is always in effect, and anything in this article is subject to change with or without notice. Please update the comments with new information, as things change often in the land of smiles. Just ask anyone on an education visa.

What is required for a foreign national to get a Thai Driving License?

For a foreign national to obtain a Thai International Driver’s License they must meet the following requirements:
  • Being of sound mind and good health (not having physical or mental handicap(s) that will prevent them from operating a vehicle safely)
  • Being at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a valid Non­Immigrant Visa (tourists may not apply)
  • A Certificate of Residency
  • A recent medical certificate

 

How do I get a Thai Driver’s License if I already have a current license from my home country and it is in English?

This is the easiest way to get a Thai driving license. If you already have a valid driver’s license from Australia, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and most provinces of Canada you will be able to skip the written test portion. You will give them a copy of your license and then you will have to take a reflex test, a color blind test, depth perception test. These tests are administered in English.
Even in the rural provinces the tests are available in English, however the person giving the test may or may not have the English skills needed for verbal answers. If this is the case having Thai language skills or an interpreter is a must. If you are on your own, you will need to understand instructions in Thai of stop, go, left, and right, and answer the names of colors. The vision test is composed of numbers rather than letters so knowing the digits from 0­9 is also needed.

 

How do I get a Thai Driver’s License if I do not have a valid license or international driving permit?

If this is your first driving license or if your license is not printed in English you will be required to take the written test and the driving test. The written test is 50 questions choose the correct answer. The driving test itself will test your skills in real traffic.
All the other requirements are the same.

Complete List of Documents Needed to get a Thai Driving License

  1. Application for Thai International Driving License (obtained at the office)
  2. Photocopies of your passport pages showing your identification, and the current visa page or extension of visa
  3. Photocopy of valid Thai work permit (if applicable)
  4. A medical certificate stating you are physically fit that is dated within 30 days
  5. Certificate of Residency (for Chonburi province immigration is in Jomtien Beach Soi 5)
  6. Valid driving license from your home country in English or an International driving permit in English. The original will be examined and copies will be required.
  7. Payment for a car license is 205 baht and for a motorcycle license the fee is 155 baht, the fees are subject to change, please double check with your local office before going as cash is the only acceptable form of payment.
  8. Time to double check your document, some of it will be in Thai, you will need to be very good at matching each character to what shows on your residency permit or have your Thai helper check your document for accuracy, this is a legal form of ID and the last thing you need is an error on your license.
  9. A big smile, they will take your picture. Scratch that they don’t let you smile but you get the picture.

 

Where do I get my Thai Driving License if I live in Pattaya or other parts of Chonburi?

The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8:30 ­ 4:00 and closed for lunch from 12:00 to 1:00.
Obtaining your license to drive legally in Thailand is easy, inexpensive and relatively painless. Once you have your temporary license it is good for a year and if you will be staying longer in the kingdom the second renewal can be up to five years.
The advantage of having a Thai driving license is having an additional form of ID, it is generally accepted in lieu of a passport by authorities. You will be able to rent a car, with it, or buy a car in your own name if you are licensed.