Thai Driving License
Obtaining a Thai driving license is relatively simple, but you must hold a non-immigrant visa in order to be eligible. If you intend to drive a car or motorcycle within Thailand during a holiday, then it is not necessary to obtain a Thai driving license at all. A valid International Driving Permit, along with your home country driving license, is acceptable, but you must have both.
If you will be in Thailand for a stay long enough that you hold a non-immigrant visa, then if you intend to drive in Thailand it is advisable to obtain a Thai driving license.
When you first obtain the license it will be valid for one year. Upon renewal, the license is valid for five years. Thailand does not combine licenses for car and motorcycle. Each is a separate license. If you intend to drive both, then you will need both licenses.
The easiest way to obtain the license is to come to Thailand with both your valid home country driving license and an International Driving Permit. Make sure the International Driving Permit specifies car, motorcycle, or both if you intend to use it to obtain the Thai driving license. Despite the fact that an International Driving License is valid for one year, Thailand honors it only for the first ninety days upon entry to the country, so make sure you get your licenses within those ninety days. Also, you must obtain the International Driving Permit outside of Thailand.
You must also produce two additional documents. You must produce a medical certificate and a residence certificate. You can obtain the medical certificate at any hospital or street clinic. The medical certificate is quite simple. Almost literally, if you are moving and breathing you can get the medical certificate. It is easiest and least expensive to get one at a street clinic.
For the residence certificate you must hold a valid non-immigrant visa, have passport photos, and produce documentation that verifies your address in Thailand. You must also have a copy of your main passport page and your visa page. You obtain the residence certificate at an Immigration office, but it must be the office in your home province. Most immigration offices have a photo and copy shop next door. You can get whatever photos or copies you need at the copy shop. The fee for the certificate at most immigration offices is 200 baht. When the certificate is issued, make sure to check that it shows that you hold a non-immigrant visa. Sometimes they mistakenly show that you hold a tourist visa. Check that to be sure.
According to the most recent regulations, if you are getting both a car and motorcycle license, a copy of your medical is acceptable for the second license, but you must have a separate residence certificate for each license. If you intend to obtain both licenses, get two residence certificates.
Here’s what you need to take with you when you go to obtain the driving license:
* Valid Passport with non-immigrant visa
* Residence Certificate
* Medical Certificate
* Valid home country driving license
* Valid International Driving Permit
Once you have the required documentation you are ready to go to the driving license agency. In Pattaya the agency is located at the Eastern Verification Center. To get to the Eastern Verification Center you go north on Sukhumvit Highway, as if you are headed to Bangkok. When you reach the junction of Highway 3 and Route 36, 8 kilometers from Central Road (Pattaya Klang), take Route 36, toward Rayong. You’ll see a sign that says “Rayong,” with a right-pointing arrow. That’s the road you take. 5 kilometers up the road you’ll come to a sign that points Bangkok to the left and Rayong to the right. Go to the right. Almost immediately see a large, rather new looking school, The Regent’s Academy. Directly in front of the school make a U-turn. Once you pass the school again, take the first left you come to, and just follow the road around. You’ll see a large white building on the right side of the road. That’s where you are trying to go.
At the building entrance there will be a desk at which you fill out the application form for the driving license. Make sure to tell the clerk which driving licenses you want. The clerk will check your documentation and inform you if you need anything else. If you do need additional copies, directly across the street from the building there is a row of copy and photo shops. Once the clerk is satisfied you will then be issued a number and sent upstairs to wait your turn to be called.
When you are called your documents will be taken and you will then be sent to go through some simple physical tests. Those usually include a color blindness test, a peripheral vision test, and a reaction time test. There can be other types of tests if they so choose.
Once you pass those tests, you’re done. All you will have to do is wait to be called to pay the fee, about 200 baht, and wait again for the license.
What happens if you don’t have an International Driving Permit and/or a valid home country driving license? You’ll have to sit through a two-hour movie, all in Thai, followed by a written test. Then, hours later, you will have to physically drive a vehicle through their obstacle course while the examiner watches. You have to supply the car and/or motorcycle yourself. If you’re going to get both the car and motorcycle license, again those are two separate licenses. You can do it all in one day, but since you can’t drive both a car and a motorcycle to the agency, how can you do it? If you don’t have a motorcycle or car, offer a Thai who is getting his own license about 200 baht if he’ll let you drive the obstacle course on his motorcycle. You will almost always find someone willing to help you out.
If, for some reason, you fail any of the tests you can try again in thirty days.
When the time comes to renew your license you must produce the same documentation again. Of course, since you already hold the Thai driving license, you no longer need a home country driving license or International Driving Permit. There are no fee penalties if you renew late.
One advantage to holding a Thai driving license is you can quite often get the Thai price, rather than the farang price, at venues and parks, or at least a discount. Also, when you find yourself in circumstances in which you are asked to leave ID, you can leave the license rather than your passport.
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