How to Get a Thai Driving License

get thai driving license

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Getting a Thai driving license is not difficult. When you see how bad a lot of Thai drivers are, you may even wish they made it more difficult to get one.

After moving to Thailand it’s very important that you do get one, though. Traffic police routinely set up roadblocks to stop motorists and check if they’ve got their license and vehicle tax in order. Having a Thai driving license in this situation will mean that you’re back on your way in under 30 seconds.

You can use an International Driving Permit as a tourist, but if you’ve been in the country for 60 days or more then you are supposed to get a Thai driving license. Having a valid driving license from your home country will make the process of getting a Thai driving license go faster. With a valid license you won’t be required to take the theory or practical (driving) exams.

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.

If it your first time getting a Thai driving license, you’ll be issued a temporary permit 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.

Requirements to Apply for a Thailand Driving License

Thai drivers license

  1. Medical Certificate
    You can get this at just about any hospital or clinic. It will cost about 50-100 baht. It’s not a thorough examination. If you have a pulse, you pass.
  2. Residence Certificate or Work Permit
    You can get a Residence Certificate proof of address either at your local Immigration office or from your Embassy. In Chiang Mai, Residence Certificates are processed at the new Immigration Office near the airport (Mon-Fri between 8-10am only). It will take 2 weeks, but is processed for free. Bring 2 passport photos, a copy of your rental agreement or proof of address, passport, and a copy of the TM30 form with your landlord’s signature (a form all hotels and apartments need to submit when taking in foreigners). You’ll need to hand over signed photocopies of all the important pages in your passport too: info page, current visa, latest entry stamp, embarkment card, 90-day reporting card (if you have it). You might as well make 2 copies of all these pages because you’ll need them again at the Land Transportation Office. If you have a valid Thailand Work Permit already, the Land Transportation Office accepts this as a proof of address, so you can skip getting a Residence Certificate. This will save you a bit of time.
  3. Passport
    As stated above, you’ll need to hand over copies of all the important pages in your passport: info page, current visa, latest entry stamp, embarkment card. You should of course have a valid non-immigrant visa. There are conflicting reports online of people being able to get a Thai driving license on a tourist visa. If you’re here to work in Thailand as an Iglu employee, that of course wouldn’t apply to you. But if others happen to be reading this, don’t be surprised if you run into trouble trying to get one on a tourist visa.
  4. Valid Driving License or International Driving Permit
    The whole process will be much easier if you have a valid driving license from your home country or International Driving Permit. If the license is not in English, then you’ll need to get a translation from your embassy. You’ll need photocopies of the front and back of your license or copies of all pages of an International Driving Permit.
  5. Thailand Driving License Application Form
    The application form is available at the Land Transportation Office, but if you want to save time by filling it out ahead of time, you can download a copy to print out HERE. And because the form is in Thai, you can look at this page to see how to fill it out.

You will need 2 sets of all the documents if applying for both an automobile and motorcycle license at the same time. A photocopy of the Medical Certificate and Residence Certificate will be accepted for the second set of documents.

Getting Your Thai Driving License at the Land Transportation Office

You’ll want to arrive at the Land Transportation Office early in the morning because you might end up spending the better part of a day there depending on how things go. If you need to take the exams, there is also a very good chance you’ll be forced to spread them out over two days.

In Chiang Mai, the Land Transportation Office is located on Hang Dong Road, just a little south of the airport. If coming from the center of town, it will be on your left as you drive south, and it’s located just a little bit before the 2nd ring road.

As with any government office in Thailand, it is best to dress politely.