Let’s get one thing straight – the only way you can legally drive in Thailand is to obtain a Thai driving license. Furthermore, this is the only way that car insurance will actually apply – if you purchase car insurance without a license and are found out, the insurance will be void and worthless. If you do want to legally drive in Thailand then you have come to the right place – this guide provides a 4 step process for obtaining a Thai driving license so buckle up and read on…
For many expats and overseas investors, simply using public transport is not enough when working or living in Thailand. Many want the freedom of the roads and wish to drive legally for themselves. Obtaining a driving license in Thailand can indeed provide you with freedom and allow you to travel further afield and explore the country in full.
Step 1 – Check you have the required documents
Before you even head to the test centre, you should first be fully aware of what documents are required. If you do not have the relevant documents then you will not be able to apply for a driving license period. To ensure that your documents are up to date, we advise checking the Department of Land Transport website first here. The following are current documents required to apply for a Thai driving license:
– Valid Passport (including a copy of the first page of your passport)
– Arrival Card
– Certified letter of address from the Immigration Bureau
– Valid healthcare certificate
You can also present a valid international driving license but this is not necessary. We recommend taking copies of all the above documentation, and signing those copies as this can hasten the process, and in most cases, you may need to sign them anyway.
Step 2 – Send your Thai driving license application form
Before taking the actual test, you must first complete the application form and present it at the testing station when applying for the temporary license. You can obtain an application form from the Department of Land Transport and they have specialized stations for foreigners who need assistance. As the form is completed in Thai, you can request assistance in filling it out.
Alternatively, we advise seeking the advice of an interpreter who can translate the form for you and fill it out. Depending on the test station, you can sometimes simply sign and print your name and this will be sufficient, but don’t bank on that. You can find an example of what the driving license looks like here.
Step 3 – Taking your Thai driving license test
Once you have filled out your application and have all relevant documents ready you can then visit the test centre. You can find a full list of all the official test centres here. As the DLT is run by the government, a dress code is required – t-shirts/shirts must have sleeves, and shorts or skirts must come below the knees. Generally, the DLT centres are open Mon-Fri. First, submit your documents – these will then be approved and stamped – you must then take a variety of different tests in order to pass and receive your license. Both car and motorbike tests are essentially the same.
*Please note, if you hold a license in your own country, or an international license, you DO NOT need to take both the practical and theory tests. You need to take just the 3.a, 3.b, 3.c and 3.d test requirements below*
The following are the 6 different parts involved in obtaining your Thailand driving license:
3.a – Color Blindness Test
This is fairly straight forward – a simple test to see if you are colour blind – if you are, then we advise reporting this straight away. Some test centres actually skip this test completely but if you do have to take it, all you have to do is look at a variety of different coloured dots on a print-out and name them. If you cannot speak Thai, don’t worry – most test centres will understand English answers.
3.b – Peripheral Vision Test
Peripheral vision is an important part of driving – you must have a decent peripheral vision to see potential threats out of the corner of your eyes. This test involves placing your head on a special station – you are shown various objects such as traffic lights on both the left and right hand sides or your eyes; you must correctly identify the colours. During this test you are given several chances if you answer incorrectly – this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try hard though!
3.c – Reflexes Test
During this test, you must use a simulated brake pedal and accelerator pedal to correctly gauge a level of acceleration and braking without going over the red LED zone. As with the peripheral test you may be given several chances to complete this test.
3.d – Depth Perception Test
To test your depth perception, you must align a small moving pin with another pin that is situated approx. 10m away – this shows the testers that you can correctly gauge distance.
3.e – Theory Test
As in other countries, a theory test is required. Beforehand, you should take the 5-hour theoretical class which provides you important info about driving on Thai roads. Also, consider studying Thai driving laws and regulations. The actual theory test consists of 50 questions – you must enter 45 to pass (90%). This test is quite easy, and it can be re-taken the next day if you fail.
3.f – Practical Test
Finally, you must take the practical test too which is considerably easy compared to other countries. You basically have to drive around a small test centre track and park without hitting cones – that’s literally it. The only issue is that your car may not be in a brilliant condition so this could make the practical test more difficult.
Step 4 – Getting your actual Thai driving License
So you have successfully aced your test – now you can actually get your official license. You must first obtain a two-year temporary license, and once that period is up, you can apply for the full Thai 5-year license.
4.a – Two-year temporary driving license
A two year license costs approximately 300 THB (around £9-10) and you can also pay 50-200 THB to have a doctor validate your physical fitness. If you passed all of your tests, your documents and license will be returned automatically to your place of residence providing you have paid the fee.
4.b – Five-year full driving license
Once your two-year temporary license has expired you can obtain a full five-year license. The full license costs approximately 605 THB (around £15.00).
We hope you have found this guide useful – it should be noted that there are companies who actually provide help to expats in obtaining a Thai driving license; from filling out paperwork to taking care of payments and helping with tests. When considering applying for your Thai diving license, always ensure that you check the DLT website for up to date information as processes can change.
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