How to get a driving license in Thailand

If you have ever visited Thailand before, you will realize by the way people drive that it’s not too difficult to get one, it might even be too easy. Before you decide to stay in Thailand for the long term, it is important to get one, especially if you plan on driving. The traffic police routinely set up roadblocks to stop drivers and check their license, if you do not own one then you will have to pay a fine and your car might get impounded. The international driving license can be used in Thailand however, if you plan on staying for a few months, it is recommended to get a Thai driving license.

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Benefits of having a Thai driving license

  • You can legally drive in Thailand and 10 other ASEAN countries.
  • The Thai driving license can also serve as a government issued ID card.
  • Get your car Insured.

Requirements

In order to qualify for a Thai driving license, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At Least 18 years of age.
  • Good physical and mental health.
  • Hold a valid Non-Immigrant visa, the Tourist visa cannot be used to get a Thai driving license.
  • Present Address in Thailand certified from your embassy or immigration bureau.

Furthermore, in order to apply for a Thai driving license, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Original and a photocopy of your valid passport as well as your Thai non-immigrant visa.
  • Original and a photocopy of a Residence certificate from your local embassy or the immigration office or a valid work permit.
  • Original and Valid Medical certificate from any hospital or clinic that proves you are in good physical and mental condition. (do not worry: it is not thorough at all, if you are able to breathe and register a pulse you will pass). 
  • (If applicable) Original and a copy of your international driving license if you have one, or your old thai driving license if you are renewing it.
  • Filled Thai driver’s license application form, this form is available at the Land Transport Office, however you can also find it on their website if you want to save time.

Procedure

In order to get your Thai driver’s license, you may have to register for an appointment online at their website, or you can walk-in at your local Land Transport Office nearest to your residence early in the morning because you might have to spend the whole day there. During these times, you might need to go there twice, once to get your queue and another to get the license. Make sure you dress politely as it is a government organization. The Department of Land Transport (DLT) office is open from 7:30am to 4:00pm, make sure you check for any public holidays when you are heading there.

If you do not want to apply yourself, there are agencies as well as driving schools which offer driving lessons as well as the ability for them to help you apply for a driver’s license. After you have submitted your application, you will have to undergo a series of practical and theoretical tests.

Practical and theoretical tests

Once your documents are approved, you will then have to complete the theoretical and practical tests. In total, there are 6 tests/tasks that you have to pass. If you have an international driving license then you only need to complete the first 4 tests, you will NOT have to do the Theory test and the Driving test. If you do not have an international driving license, you will need to complete and pass all of these tests. The tests that you must complete are:

  1. Color Blindness: For this test, the officials at the DLT will point you to different colored spots on a poster, all you have to do is name that color. This test is as simple as it gets unless you are colorblind.
  2. Peripheral Test: For this test, you need to look at the official in front of you without moving your eye. You will then be required to tell the traffic color signal without moving your eyes and only using your peripheral vision. If you do not pass, you will most likely still be given a second or a third go at it.
  3. Reflex test: In this test, you will have to take a seat with two pedals, the brake and the accelerator. The green and red LED lights in front of you will start to light up and you will have to press either the brake or the accelerator before the LED lights enter the red zone. You will also be given a couple more tries if you fail.
  4. Depth perception test: This test requires you to have a steady hand because you will have to press the forward and back buttons to align the moving pin with the one that is fixed around 10 meters away. If you fail, you will still be given a few more tries on this test as well.
  5. Theory test: This requires you to take time to study and learn about the Thai road safety rules which could be a little different to those in your home country. Before taking this test, you will be required to take 5 hours of theoretical classes teaching you about the traffic rules and regulations in Thailand. This can also be done online at www.dlt-elearning.com where you will have to print out a certificate. The test is in a multiple choice format. There are many websites available in which you can practice and memorize the answers.
  6. Practical driving test: You will have to drive a car around a small test track, you can either bring your own car, or rent one at the DLT. The official will be watching you from a distance while you attempt different tests around the circuit. If you bring your own cars, bear in mind that you will have to block driver aids such as rear-view cameras or sensors with black tape so that you do not have assistance. The tests are much easier than other countries, you will be alone in the car and you must demonstrate maneuvers such as reversing between a set of poles, and pulling up to the curb as close as possible. If you fail the practical driving test, you can retake it again after a few days, however after 90 days, you will have to repeat the entire process again.

Once you have passed all the tests, you will immediately receive your driving license. If you are applying for the first time, it will be valid for 2 years, after that you will need to renew it which will have a validity for 5 years.

Costs

When you apply for the Thai Driving licence, you will incur additional costs on top of the cost to get a license. The costs you should expect to pay are:

  • License cost: 205 THB ($6.30).
  • Medical certificate: around 200 THB ($6.15).
  • Letter of Residence from the Embassy: Usually between 300-500 THB ($9.20-$15.40). The immigration office will do it for free but it takes up to 4-6 weeks.
  • Rent car for the practical test: 100 THB ($3.00). (OPTIONAL).
  • Driving lessons: 3,500 THB - 4,000 THB ($108-$154). (OPTIONAL).

Practically, you can get a 2 year Thai Driving License for only 400-500 THB including renting a car to take the practical exam, which is extremely cheap and affordable compared to any country in the world. It is also relatively easy to get one as the tests are very basic and there are no levels as they have in other countries where you will get a learner’s permit first.

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