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Driving license in Thailand

Thai driving licenses fall into two categories: temporary and permanent ones. The former allow to drive for a year, and afterwards the driver can either receive the permanent license (valid for 5 years) and prolongs the temporary permit. One can get a permanent driving license only when he or she owns a NON-type visa.

International driving license represents yet another class of driving permits. This document can be issued for drivers who own permanent Thai licenses and NON-type visas.

Let see how a foreigner can issue a Thai driving license while having a national document, for instance, a Russian driving license.

If you have not issued an international driving license in Russia, but own a national Russian license, you are not required to pass any driving tests in Thailand. All you need is a certificate of eye-sight, reaction-speed and color-discrimination measurements.

A yearlong temporary Thai driving license can be obtained in a local Department of Land Transport upon submission of your national driving license and its certified translation into English. An international driving license does not have to be apostilled.

A certified translation of a Russian driving license can be done in the Russian Consulate in Bangkok or in Pattaya (Phra Tamnak Rd., 353, Royal Cliff Hotel, ground floor of the "Royal Cliff Grand" building). The two-sided translation of a license costs 2000 baht. Moreover you can also authenticate your residential address in the same office. Otherwise you have to obtain a Residence certificate in an Immigration Office. If you have a WorkPermit document, the Residence certificate is not required.

In addition, you also have to submit a Medical Certificate that testifies your health condition. It can be obtained in any local hospital and costs 100-150 baht. Please notice that there are various types of these certificates, so you should mention that you need the one for a driving license for a car or a bike. If you are planning to obtain driving licenses of both A and B categories (two different documents), you will need two medical certificates for each category and two residence certificates.

Visa type is not decisive for the temporary driving license valid for 1 year.

In the following you will find a full list of documents required for a yearlong Thai driving license:

  • - The original of your travel passport with a visa of any type
  • - Copies of the travel passport pages, e.g. the first page, the page with the last entry stamp or the present visa and the white Departure card.
  • - The original of your national driving license, two-sided copy and a certified English translation apostilled in an embassy or the Consulate. Or the original of your national driving license with a two-sided copy plus the original of your international driving license with copies of all pages (no translation is required in this case).
  • - The ResidenceCertificate from an immigration office or a statement of your residential address in Thailand from the Consulate. In order to obtain the  ResidenceSertificate, you will be asked to provide two photographs of 3х4 am, a copy of your rental contract, a copy of the travel passport, and a filled application form for the ResidenceCertificate (respective formsheets are found in the Immigration Police Office). Please notice that if you are going to issue two driving licenses for a car and a motorbike, you will need two ResidenceCertificates.
  • - The MedicalCertificate issued in any medical facility.

If you own a NON-type visa, you can apply for a permanent driving license (valid for 5 years) in one year. If you have a tourist visa, you are only allowed to prolong your temporary document for yet another year after the submission of the above-listed document package and successful testing of reaction-speed and color-discrimination.

If you continuously reside in Thailand, you may use your international driving license for a year. If you are staying longer, it is strongly recommended to obtain a Thai driving license. This document gives a permission to visit national parks and some tourist sightseeing places for prices set up for Thai locals. A fine is imposed for driving without an international driving license in case you have a Russian driving permit only. This charges amount to 300-500 baht, but we still advise to invest time in obtaining an international license in Russia or a local Thai license.

The “international” document is just a standardized official translation of the national driving license and is, therefore, invalid without the original Russian license. You are obliged to have your Russian document with you while on the road. If you have been driving in Thailand for over a year, it is recommended to issue a Thai driving license.

How to issue a Thai driving license without the national driving one, e.g. upon taking up the driving test

If you have no previous driving license, the following documents are required for submission:

  • - the original of the travel passport with copies of the first page, the page with the last entry stamp or the present visa, and a copy of the white Departure card.
  • - themedicalcertificatefromamedicalfacility
  • - the Residence Certificate from the Immigration Office.

Preparation for the driving and knowledge tests:

  • - please show up at the local traffic police office at 8.30 am to submit all documents and to file an application form for the exam on Thai driving license.
  • - at 9.30 am you will be invited to the upper floor in order to take measurements on speed-reaction, space-orientation and color-discrimination.
  • - from 10.00 am till 12.00 am you will attend a lecture on driving regulations and watch an educational film. If you want to obtain licenses for a bike and a car, you will have to pass knowledge test two times. It is allowed to retake the exam as many as you like for free.
  • - a lunch break from 12.00 am till 12.00 am
  • - from 1.00 pm till 4.00 pm you will take up the knowledge test on a computer. There are 30 questions given in English that you have to answer in one hour. You will have successfully passed if you have answered 23 or more questions correctly.
  • - next morning you have to arrive by 10 am on your private vehicle to the traffice police station. The driving test starts at 10.30am on a special site. You have to take a pre-defined route with several stops before the stop-line, drive in a zig-zack manner inbetween the orange poles (for motorbikes only), to park backwards in 7 moves and to drive in reverse for about 20 m in a virtual tunnel indicated by high flags (for cars only).
  • - if you have successfully passed all tests, the Thai driving license is immediately endorsed. The state fee comprises 160 baht.

Important information:

1. Upon the first application, a driving license is given for one year. In a year, it can be prolonged for another year (if you have no NON-visa) or for 5 years (if you have a NON-type visa). In order to prolong the license, you have to submit the following documents to the local traffic police office:

  • - the original of the travel passport with copies of the first page, the page with the last entry stamp or the present visa, and a copy of the white Departure card.
  • - the original and a copy of the Thai driving license
  • - the medical certificate from a medical facility
  • - the Residence Certificate from the Immigration Office.

Furthermore, you have to pass the reaction and color-blindness tests again and take a new picture of yourself.

2. If necessary, you can also get an international Thai driving license valid for 1 year. The document list is the same as given above for 1. The document package has to be submitted in the central traffic police office in Bangkok or Chonburi. The payment fee equals to 520 baht.

Useful links:

1. Thai road signs: http://driving.information.in.th/traffic-signs.html

2. Locations of the traffic police offices in Pattaya: http://wikimapia.org/6163744/Department-of-Land-Transport-Banglamung-Branch

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