How to get a driving license in Thailand without intermediaries, how to preapre for a theoretical test, what documents are required, how much it cost and how much it takes? This post will answer all these questions. It is very simple, cheap and stress-free compared to Western countries.
The Thai driving license is the only sure way to drive a car or motorcycle legally for people staying in Thailand for more than 60 days. As a tourist you can, of course, use the International Driving Permit (IDP), but remember that only for 60 days. After this time, you must obtain a Thai driving license. During a car or motorcycle accident, without a legal driving permit, things may turn out unfavorably and in the worst case, you violate the insurance agreement and you will be forced to cover the costs of hospitalization and treatment from your own pocket.
Driving License in Thailand can be done in a single day and is a very useful document. Apart from the passport, it can be used as an identity card and alternatively with a passport in offices, banks, hotels and other places requiring confirmation of identity. In addition, you are often entitled to free or cheaper tickets for tourist attractions – museums, palaces, national parks, some temples. It is valid in 10 ASEAN countries and costs only few hundred baths. Of course, the driving license does not replace your passport, which is still the basic identity document of a foreigner.
To apply for a Thai driving license, you must be at least 18 years old, in good physical and mental health and have a valid non-immigration visa. In addition, you must prove that you are living or working in Thailand. Below is a description of how to get a Thai driving license in a few simple steps. If you have the driving license issued in your country, then making a Thai one is just a formality. However, if you do not have qualifications in your country then you have to take a comprehensive exam.
The first case: you have a valid driving license issued in your country
Go to the Land of Transportation office in your area to submit the required documents. Since the Land Transportation Office is a government organization, applicants are required to wear a polite dress: shirts must have sleeves and shorts/skirts must be below the knees.
1. Required documents:
- visa other than tourist, NON-IMMIGRANT.
- your original and valid passport.
- photocopy of your passport (1st Page; VISA Page; Departure Card TM6).
- Work Permit with the address entered (+ signed photocopy of 1 st page and address) or Proof of Residence obtained at the embassy or immigration office confirming the address of residence. The last two documents cannot be older than 30 days. Proof of Residence is issued on the basis of a rental contract.
- two color photos 1.5 in x 2.36 in (4 cm x 6 cm)
- a health certificate, issued at any clinic or hospital, dated within thirty days of the application (costs around 50-200 THB).
- a valid driving license issued in your country and its photocopy.
Since the required documents are subject to change from time to time, it is best to check with the Land Transportation Office again before going to apply for the driving license.
2. After accepting the documents, you can take the 3-step psychophysical test.
- color blindness test – the employee changes the light at the road lights model, and you should respond by stating the light’s color. You can answer in English or Thai.
- reflex test – you sit down with the dummy gas and brake pedals. You accelerate until you reach the red limit on the LED bar in front of you. Then you have to stop immediately.
- depth perception test – use forward and back buttons to align a moving pin with a fixed one, in a small box at approx. 10 meters distance.
These tests are repeated until you get it right and there is very little chance that you will not pass.
3. Pick up your driving license.
After passing the tests you receive a note with which you go to a specific window. At the window, you get the number and wait in the queue for your turn. You approach a designated stand where the employee prints a driver’s license, for which you pay about 105-120 THB. That’s all. If you have all the documents properly prepared, it will take about 3-4 hours to obtain a Thai driving license.
The second case: you don’t have a valid driving license issued in your country.
After submitting the required documents at the Land Transportation Office (listed above in 1 st point) and passing the psychophysical tests (described above in the 2 nd point), you must agree on the date of the theoretical and practical exam. Depending on the province, the waiting time varies from 2 weeks (Phuket) to two months (Bangkok).
How to prepare for a theoretical test?
On an agreed date, you should come to the Land Transportation Office in the morning. A few hours of a movie about traffic rules is displayed before the theoretical exam. The movie is entirely in Thai with English subtitles. If you do not know Thai and want to learn something from the movie, it is worth to sit in the first rows to be able to read small subtitles. After the movie and lunch break, it’s time for a theoretical exam. The theory test is simple and consists of 50 single-choice questions. The questions are in English and, to pass, you should get 90% of the correct answers. Questions are available online and or you can practice on test computers at the Land and Transportation Office. If you did not pass the theoretical test, you can come the next day and repeat the test. After passing the exam, the practical part takes place in the maneuvering area.
How do you pass the practical driving test?
Let’s start with the fact that in Thailand there is no obligation to go on a driving course, you do not need to have a certain number of hours of driving with an instructor, none of these things. It’s your private business – how, with whom, when, where and on whose vehicle you’ve learned how to drive. You just come and take the practical driving test.
The examination takes place entirely on the maneuvering area of Land and Transportation Office. Some people come with their own vehicles, and if they do not have their own they rent on site for about 50 baths. Passing the practical driving test is a pure formality compared to European countries, where a practical test is much harder In general, follow the signs, in the case of a scooter, make a slalom and stop before the roundabout. The whole takes about 3 minutes.
Driving license is printed right away
Immediately after passing the practical part, you go to the Land and Transportation Office for the last time to pick up your driving license. You pay the driver’s license fee, wait in the queue for the photo and receive a freshly printed Thai driving license. Just check the data, say goodbye and you can go out as a full-fledged driver of a motorcycle or a car.
Obtain Driving License during Holidays
Thai driving license is relatively easy to obtain and it is cheap compared to the costs in European countries. Therefore, when planning a longer vacation in Thailand, you should consider the opportunity to do a driving license during your stay. The Thai driving license gives you the right to drive in Thailand. Moreover, it can be converted into a driving license of one of the European countries, that signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968. Confirmation that you can actually do it is myself. In September 2017 I passed the Thai driving license test in Phuket, and two months later I converted it to a Polish driving license.
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