If you’re an American living in Thailand and would like to get a Thai driving license, I’ve got a few quick and dirty tips for you.
A Thai driving license is important in the following scenarios:
- You want to fly domestically without your passport
- You get in a car accident
- You’re stopped by the police
- You need proof of identification
- You want to pay the ‘local’ price at tourist attractions
Since we just got a new car, it was only natural to go through the process to get a Thai driving license. The biggest tip I can possibly give you is this:
Get an international driving license from AAA in the United States.
If you get an international license, it’s just a 45-minute visit at the department of land transport to “convert” it into a Thai license. We live in Phuket, so I’m not sure how busy it is in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, but this morning we arrived at 8:15 and left with a Thai license in hand at 8:59. If you show up in Thailand WITHOUT an international license, you’re looking at a 2-3 day process and the stuff nightmares of made of.
Okay, that was an exaggeration. But you will have to do the following if you do NOT have an international driving license:
- Vision test
- Color blind test
- Reflex test
- Depth perception test
- Watch a four-hour video
- Take a 30 question test
- Undergo the “technical” driving course, complete with parallel parking and laser sensors that beep if you cross a line, Mission Impossible style.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay $20 to AAA to get it done in 45 minutes.
Either way, if you have an international license or not, you’ll still need the following things:
- copy of passport
- copy of visa
- medical certificate from past 30 days (any clinic can do this for 200-300 baht)
- copy of work permit
- copy of residency permit if you’re not working (ask your landlord for help with this)
- copy of international driving license
- Around 400 baht for the whole process
I recommend that you show up the day before you aim to go and show the nice lady at the front your documents. She can clarify which pages were incorrectly photocopied, of which you will most likely have a couple. You can then go home and make new copies that suit her request and come back the next morning at 8am feeling confident and ready to hit the gas.
Honestly? Good luck, and happy driving!