Thai Driving Licence
Once you have been in Thailand for a period over 3 months you will need a Thai driving licence, even though international driver's licences are legally accepted. Several insurance companies have a fine print stating that the driver should hold a valid Thai driving licence to be fully covered. Besides that you'll offer the local law enforcement great opportunities by continuing to drive with an international licence.
Having a Thai drivers licence may sometimes also make police slightly more lenient towards the fact that expats cannot carry their passport at all times.
Applicants for a Thai (international) drivers licence need to meet the following qualifying requirements:
• Being of sound mind and body (not having physical or mental handicap(s) that will prevent them from operating a vehicle safely)
• Being at least 18 years of age
• If the applicant is not a Thai national, the applicant must hold a valid Non-Immigrant Visa (tourists can not apply).
What you will need when applying for your Thai drivers licence:
• If you cannot read or understand the Thai language you are allowed to bring an interpreter to complete the forms and translate the possible instruction class and tests.
• Valid Passport with Valid Non-immigrant Visa
• Signed copies of the passports first page, the page with the current non-immigrant visa, the page with the last entry stamp and T.M.6 arrival card.
• A certified letter of address from the applicant's embassy, or from the Immigration Bureau (document cannot be older than 30 days).
Tip: The letter from the embassy is the fastest option, but the immigration office will provide this service for free. However, it will take those 3-6 weeks to complete and an officer from your local police station will visit your place of residence for verification.
If you are working in Thailand: the blue workbook, better known as your work permit, can replace either of these documents and serve as address verification.
• A doctor’s certificate stating that the applicant is in good health both physically and mentally (standard forms are available from most clinics and should not be more than 30 days old).
• 2 photos, 1 x 1 inch and not older than 6 months (photo service is available on the premises).
• Valid international driver's licence plus signed photocopy or translated regular driving licence from the applicant's home country, certified by Embassy or consulate (if available).
• Note that 1 set of these documents is required per licence applications. However, when applying for both a car and a motorcycle licence an extra copy of the doctor’s certificate and the letter of address will suffice for the second application.
The application procedure:*
• Take the Thai language application form from the room behind window #35 and complete the form applying for the 1 year temporary driving licence.
• If you did not bring any pictures you can have them taken at the booth in the application room while your translator waits in the queue for window #35.
• Hand in all the above listed documents and move over to the left-hand window and wait for a couple of minutes.
• The documents will be handed back and you will be told to head over to window #20 for further verification of the documents. Once you receive the approval stamp you proceed to window #35.
• After another administrative action they will direct you towards the test area on the 3rd floor where you will need to pass 3 tests:
Colour blindness test: One of the officials will point to coloured dots on a poster and you should respond by stating the colour. Answers in Thai are preferred but generally English words are understood as well.
Reflex test: Be seated behind an accelerator and brake pedal and push the accelerator until the green led’s start to light up. Hit the brake pedal before the led’s reach the red zone. You will have to repeat this test twice.
Depth perception test: Use forward and back buttons to align a moving pin with a fixed one in a small box at approximately 10 metres distance. Initially it looks more confusing than it actually is but if you, like me, have a problem with 3D vision, you can click here to learn how to pass this test without any risks. You will need to repeat this test twice.
• If you have passed all of these tests your documents will be signed and handed back to you at this point. Then it's back down to the window where it all started out, where, if everything is in order, you will receive a queue number. Move over to the windows on your left (1 through 6) and wait until your number comes up on the board. Hand over your documents and your passport (and work permit if that was used for address verification). After they have been checked for one last time you will be required to pay the 105 Baht fee. A few moments later your name will be called (best to react to anything that starts with Mr.) and 2 signatures later you will be the proud owner of a 1 year temporary Thai driver’s licence.
• Behind the main building, in between the food stalls and the toilets, you will find a small shop that will cut and laminate your licence for a minimal fee.
• Get in your car and drive off with a smile, pleasantly surprised at the excellent service you have just received.
* Room numbers and other locations within the building are specific to the Hua Krabu branch in Bangkhuntian district in south Bangkok.