Getting a Thai driving license
If you are living in Thailand and plan to drive a car or motorbike you will need a Thai driving license. Like most countries in the world, Thailand requires expats to have the correct documents and that certainly includes a driving license – without it you are driving illegally and you won’t be fully covered by your insurance policy.
Taking the test, including the theory and practical test, takes around half a day to a day although it is advisable to go early as there are usually large numbers of people looking to take the test.
It is well worth taking the motorbike and car test at the same time otherwise you will need to take all the tests again at a later date. All applicants must be 18 years old or older, in good physical and mental health and have a non-immigrant visa, in other words, not a tourist. There are test centres located all around the country so finding one that is close to where you live won’t be a problem.
The forms at the Department of Land Transport, where you will take your test, are all in Thai and need to be completed in Thai so it is advisable to take a Thai speaker with you. In addition to these forms you will also need:
The Day of the Test
All applicants should be dressed appropriately, shirts must have sleeves and all skirts and shorts should be below the knees. The Department of Land Transport will be open Monday to Friday, from 7.30am until 4.00pm except for public holidays.
When you arrive you will be expected to complete all the forms and handover your own documents and once these have been approved you will need to move on to a series of other tests. These include:
Colour Blindness Test
During the colour blindness test, an official will point to different coloured dots on a wallchart. The applicant needs to call out the colours out with answers being accepted in English in most offices.
A test is also conducted to check the applicant’s peripheral vision. The applicant will be asked to look straight ahead with lights flashing on either side. Once again the applicant will be expected to shout out the colours that they have seen. The applicant will get two opportunities to take this test.
The applicant will be asked to sit behind a simulated accelerator and brake pedal. They will then be asked to press the accelerator
until the green lights are displayed which will eventually turn red. The applicant must hit the brake pedal before the lights turn red in order to pass the test.
Possibly the hardest of all the tests, the applicant must align a moving pin with one that is permanently fixed around five metres away. The pin can be moved backwards as well as forwards should you accidentally go too far.
Assuming that you pass all the tests above, you will be invited to take the theory test. This involves watching a video and then answering questions on the rules of the road in Thailand. The test is usually available in English and consists of 50 questions, 45 of which must be answered correctly in order to pass. If you fail, the test can be retaken the next day.
Motorists will be required to drive around a small circuit with their progress monitored by an examiner. The test is quite straightforward with no complicated manoeuvres required such as hill starts or parallel parking. The most complicated part of the test is reversing between two poles and parking as close to the curb as possible. A car is usually available to rent for the test at the test centre for THB100. The test can usually be retaken the next day should applicants fail.
The process of applying for a motorcycle license is almost exactly the same only the course for the practical test is different. All the same documents are required and the above tests are the same.
How long does it take?
This is a tough question to answer. Generally, it takes around half a day to a day to complete all the tests depending on how many people are there. Arriving early is always advisable as this increases your chances of everything being completed quicker.
If you pass all the tests you will be granted now be granted an initial two-year temporary Thai driving License. After this, you will then get a 5-year license subject to passing all the physical tests again (i.e. Not the theory or practical test).
The information above is correct to September 2017 but is subject to change without prior warning.