Your Guide to Acquiring a Thai Driver's License: Expert Tips and Step-by-Step Process

Your Guide to Acquiring a Thai Driver's License: Expert Tips and Step-by-Step Process

I get asked frequently about the requirements and what members need to bring over with them to get a Thai Drivers License.
Unlock the freedom of the open road in Thailand with ease. Our comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of acquiring a Thai driver's license, including all the necessary documents, exams, and steps AND EVEN a training video for foreign applicants renewing or transferring driver's licenses in Thailand. And you'll learn how to prepare online for your driver's test.

Don't let language barriers or confusion hold you back - we've got you covered every step of the way. Start your journey towards driving independence today!

Contents:
International Driver’s Permit
Getting a Thai Driving License
video – How to Get a Driving License in Thailand
Driver License Training Video
Qualifying requirements
Thai Motorcycle Licenses
Simplify your Online Driver's License Renewal
Sample written tests

Once you have been in Thailand for a period extending 3 months, you will need an Thai driving license, even though international drivers permits are legally accepted. In addition, several insurance companies have a fine print stating that the driver should hold a valid Thai driving license to be fully covered.

Also Having a Thai drivers license may sometimes also make police slightly more lenient towards the fact that expats can not carry their passport at all times which is actually the law. And a domestic Thai drivers license can sometimes be used to avoid paying the typical “Farang prices”, where foreigners are sometimes charged more than what Thai nationals pay for entering typical tourist places like nature parks, certain temples and palaces. A Thai driver’s license is then accepted as a sort of proof that the holder is not just a tourist.

To drive or lease a car or motorcycle in Thailand as a tourist or visitor it is necessary to have either a Thai driving license, an International Driving Permit or a valid foreign driving license (see note below) with a photograph.

The foreign license must either be in English, or be accompanied by an official translation into English or Thai. The license needs to have been issued by a country that has a treaty with the Thai government allowing the mutual acceptance of driving licenses.  Most countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA have this agreement with Thailand under the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic or the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road TrafficNOTE: I have yet to see this upheld in Thailand and cannot find a Thai translation of this agreement to show the police upon being stopped. Now I do not ever see Thai police accepting the foreign licenses in high tourist areas like Pattaya, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai. Maybe I can contact our respective embassies for advice on this matter. So stay tuned for more info on this.

International Driver Permit


An International Driver’s License/Permit (IDL/IDP) is also valid in Thailand, and available from a government department or authorized auto club at a small expense.

For Americans one can be obtained through the American Automobile Association (AAA). Simply print out the application, fill in the information requested and bring it with you to the AAA office nearest you. If you prefer to secure your International Driving Permit through the mail, enclose your completed application form, two ORIGINAL passport-type photos each signed on the back, a $15USD permit fee and a photocopy of both sides of your driver’s license and mail them to the AAA office nearest you (check locally for payment options). Include additional U.S. funds for expedited return mail service, if desired.

ALREADY OVERSEAS?? If you are currently overseas you can mail your completed application to the following office and address:

AAA/IDP
1000 AAA Drive
Heathrow, FL 32746

Attn: Mail Stop #28

Please allow 4-6 weeks for return mail unless additional postage for
express mail service is included with the application
.

Funds must be in U.S. dollars. For this option acceptable forms of payment are U.S. bank check or money order payable to AAA and these major credit cards with expiration date- Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card. Applicants name and mailing address must be printed on the check, and IDP will not be mailed until check has cleared.
(If credit card option is chosen, please include number, expiration date, and note authorizing AAA to charge $15. If you need your IDP to be mailed back to you using an expedited mail service [UPS, Fed-Ex] authorization for the additional charges will need to be included.)

A foreign driving license valid under the 1949 or 1968 Conventions qualifies the license holder to apply for the IDL/IDP, and its holders may find that it is more often recognized and accepted by police and civil service officials.  Beware of the many IDP/IDL websites that are not legitimate.

If the driver is not a tourist or visitor but is a resident with a non-immigrant visa, then it is necessary to have a Thai driver’s license. However, those with a foreign license as described above or an International Drivers License are excused from doing the practical driving test when applying for a Thai driving license.

Note: Although International Driving Licenses are valid for up to one year, after arrival in Thailand, these will only be accepted by police for three months and many comprehensive insurance policies are made void if still driving on a foreign license after 3 months.

License holders may only drive the category of vehicle for which their license is valid.  If you wish to be able to drive both cars and motorcycles in Thailand, then you’ll have to apply for 2 separate driving permits, and you’ll be issued 2 different physical cards, but you can get both done during the same visit (or series of visits) to the Land Transportation Office. If your home country driving license is only valid for automobiles then you will still have to take the written and driving tests to get your Thai motorcycle driving license.

The 1st Thai drivers license is valid for 2 years. When the first 2 years are nearly up, you can make another trip to the Department of Land Transport and get a regular license which is valid for 5 years. You can renew it it 60 days prior to the expiration date. If you are a Tourist with a Thai Driving License, you can only get a 2 year renewal.

After expiration, you have 1 year in which to renew it (of course you can’t legally drive until you renew it).
If you haven’t renewed it after 1 year, you have to start all over again.

Note: By law you are expected to carry a Thai drivers’ license when driving on public roads and foreign
drivers’ license should only be used for the first 60 days of your stay in Thailand.

Getting a Thai Driving License

The Department of Land Transport Office processes all of Thailand’s driving licenses. Go in person to the nearest local office to complete the paperwork and get a driving license.


The Department of Land Transport has partnered with British Embassy Bangkok to improve driving license procedures for foreign nationals across Thailand. The partnership has helped kick start initiatives that include a 3-minute English language video (see below) explaining the process for renewing, transferring and applying for a driving license as a foreign national and a 45-minute English language instructional video (see below) re-translation of the online driving test for English speaking applicants, covering road traffic laws, road usage, techniques for driving safely and driving etiquette. This is a part of the Thai driving test for foreign nationals.

Video How to Get a Driving License in Thailand

NOTE: There is now ONLINE training to complete BEFORE going to the Department of Land Transport to get your license. Skip BELOW for 5 Steps to Prepare for Online Driver’s License Renewal

Driver License Training Video

Here's a training video for foreign applicants renewing or transferring driver's licenses in Thailand

Qualifying 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
  • If the applicant is not Thai national, the applicant must hold a valid Non-Immigrant Visa (tourists can not apply).

It is recommended to phone in advance to check exactly what paperwork is required as it has been reported that different DLT offices have different requirements. The following paperwork is usually required by the DLT (with copies):

  • Passport with valid non-immigrant visa. Nowadays they are accepting tourist visas though.
  • Work Permit: if no work permit is held then a Certificate of Residence issued by the Thai Immigration Bureau or a Letter of Residence issued by the appropriate embassy will usually be sufficient. The work permit must be valid and the letter or certificate no more than 30 days old
  • Original medical certificate stating you are free of five specific diseases and of sound mind and body from a clinic or hospital that is less than one month old.
  • New Medical certification Form (**) See below
  • Two photographs, 1×1 inch, no more than six months old. In some offices photos are not required as they will be taken with DLT cameras as part of the process
  • Valid international or foreign driving license. A foreign driving license must have a certified translation issued by the Embassy. Foreign driving licenses in the English language will sometimes be accepted with no translation necessary
  • Fee

(**) Beginning in February 2018, another medical certification has been added. It is in Thai and apparently requires the applicant to certify if they have certain medical conditions such as epilepsy,
heart, diabetes, etc. – Click here to read the article, which states it goes into effect on March 1. As this form is new, we have no information on what effect it may have on the granting of a license if there is a positive answer to any of the conditions.

The whole process can take a few hours to complete depending on the office and the number of people applying. Some DLT offices have English-speaking staff that can help where the whole process can be undertaken in English.

What to do at the Department of Land Transport Office

Applicants for Thai driving licenses have to be prepared for lengthy queues, so it is best to arrive before 08:30. Sometimes DLT offices are so busy that applicants arriving after 09:00 may be turned away.

Applicants will be required to:

  • Fill in the license application form
  • Hand in the application
  • Take the Color Blindness Test: One of the officials will point to colored dots on a poster and you should responds by stating the dot’s color. Answers in Thai are preferred but generally English words are understood as well.
  • Take the Reflex Test: Be seated behind an alternative gas 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.

Once all the formalities have been completed a temporary Thai driving license, valid for two years, is issued. After this period the person will need to renew their license and can apply for a license that is valid for five years.

Note: There is some confusion about the rules regarding one- and five-year licenses (even among officials), so getting a five-year driving license may depend on the DLT office in question.  Remember to keep your original license for use in the home country or country of issue.

Thai Motorcycle Licenses

To exchange a motorbike license the procedure is essentially the same. There is no limit to the size of engine that can be driven with the license.

If you do not have an International Driver’s Permit or your home country drivers license with the proper designation for the type of vehicle you are choosing to drive then the following procedure applies taken from the Department of Land Transportation website which will include a four hour training class, a theory test and a practical test:

TEMPORARY (2 year) DRIVING LICENSE


IN CASE OF FOREIGNER
TEMPORARY (TWO YEAR) DRIVING LICENSE


PREPARE THE DOCUMENTS AS FOLLOWS:

1. PASSPORT WITH VISA (ORIGINAL AND PHOTO COPY)

2. ORIGINAL PRESENT RESIDENT ADDRESS IN THAILAND CERTIFIED FROM EMBASSY / IMMIGRATION BUREAU (See links at end of posting – VALID FOR 1 YEAR) OR ORIGINAL WORK PERMIT AND PHOTO COPY

3. ORIGINAL MEDICAL CERTIFICATE (5 DISEASES FORM) FROM CLINIC OR HOSPITAL (VALID FOR 1 MONTH)

4. NEW MEDICAL CERTIFICATION FORM (**)

4. ORIGINAL AND PHOTO COPY OF INVALID INTERNATIONAL DRIVING LICENCE (1949 OR 1968 CONVENTION) OR LOCAL DRIVING LICENCE (TRANSLATED IN ENGLISH OR THAI LANGUAGE AND CERTIFIED BY YOUR EMBASSY IF IT ISN’T IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE)

(**) Beginning in February 2018, another medical certification has been added. It is in Thai and
apparently requires the applicant to certify if they have certain medical conditions such as epilepsy,
heart, diabetes, etc. – Click here to read the article, which states it goes into effect on March 1. As this
form is new, we have no information on what effect it may have on the granting of a license if there is a
positive answer to any of the conditions.

PROCEDURE

1) CHECK THE DOCUMENTS

2) PRINT THE APPLICATION FORM

3) – IF YOU ARE QUALIFIED IN NO.4 above -> TAKE ONLY A PHYSICAL TESTS

– IF YOU ARE DISQUALIFIED IN NO.4 – THEN FULFILL THE FOLLOWING STEPS

  • TAKE A TRAINING 4 HOURS (now done online) SKIP to HERE
  • TAKE A PHYSICAL TEST
  • TAKE A THEORY TEST
  • TAKE A PRACTICAL (DRIVING) TEST

4) PAY THE FEE / TAKE A PHOTO AND PRINT DRIVING LICENCE
(FEE 105 BAHT AND PLASTIC SMART CARD 100 BAHT)


People who want a driving license will no longer need to be tested at a land department center. All applicants needed to do is go to a driving school, get a certificate. If drivers can show they have completed the new more stringent five hours of training they can pick up a license from any department office. But when that is done they will need to do nothing else except present the certificate from the driving school and they will get their license.

Driving Schools in Chiang Mai (not sure if these are still operating after the pandemic shutdowns):
Only 2 of these schools have phone numbers published

  • Tunwad Driving School
    41/7, Sri Phum Road, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200
    Tel: 053 223 550
  • Chang Phuak Driving School
    Chiang Mai – Lampang Superhighway, Chang Phuak, Mueang Chiang Mai,
    Chiang Mai, 50300
    Tel: 053 444 04
  • Chiang Yuen Driving Center
    Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
  • Khun Noi Driving School
    Wat Ket, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand
  • Khun Chai Driving
    Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
  • Khun Wit Driving Center
    Wat Ket, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand
  • Thanwa Driving
    Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Pratu Chang Phueak Driving
    Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • No name, only partial address.
    School is reported at the northern side of the moat on inside road one block before Jok Sompet Restaurant

Note: Only Thais holding a Thai driving license may use it in other ASEAN countries. The discretion does not cover foreigners with a Thai license who are advised to obtain an international permit in Thailand or in their first country.

DOWNLOAD Forms:

To download “Residency Certificate Form for Immigration Dept” Click Here
To download “Residency Certificate Form for US Consulate Click Here
To download Application for Driving License Form in Thai and English (Updated June
2016) Click Here (This is for Chiang Mai – Don’t know if same form is used in other
Provinces)
International Drivers Permit Thailand
To download “Foreign National Information Form” editable Click Here

Simplify your Online Driver License Renewal


5 Easy Steps: Training lesson required for Thai driver’s license is now online. The e-learning lesson is available on www.dlt-elearning.com, which supports smartphones, tablets, and computers. Steps are as follows:
Step 1:

Click “Register” (yellow button) or scroll down to the bottom of the page. Then, enter your ID card number, driver’s license number, and date of issue and date of expiry.

Step 2:

Watch the training video. After the video ends, click “Last Step”. If you haven’t finished watching the video, close the window before the video ends, or leave confirmed information empty, you will have to re-watch the video. (This step requires a lot of patience.)

Step 3:

Confirm your identity. Enter ID card number and driver’s license number to receive the training result. Then, click “Done”.

Step 4:

Check your training result at the website’s homepage. Click “Check Online Training Status”. Enter your ID card number and click “Check Status”.

Step 5:

Contact your local Department of Land Transportation with your result to proceed to the physical competency test. The driver’s license will be issued within 90 days, counting from the date on which you pass the test.

Please note that the e-Learning lesson is only applicable if the license expires less than 1 year or for an early renewal of less than 90 days.

Sample written tests

Test 1

Test 2

Test 3