Expats planning to drive a car in Thailand should apply for a Thai driving license.
This is the only way to ensure that you can drive legally in the country and are fully covered by a car insurance policy. A driver’s license also serves as a Thai ID card issued by the government.
In addition, a Thai driving license can be done in a single day, costs only a few hundred baht, and is valid in 10 ASEAN countries. You can also apply for an International Driving License with it.
This article will show you how to get a Thai driving license in Thailand step-by-step.
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- Where to Apply for a Thai Driving License
- Procedure and Tests
- Getting the License
- Motorcycle Licenses
- Renewing Your License
- Changing an International Driving License to a Thai Driving License
- How Many Days Does It Take?
- When Should I Visit the Department of Land Transport?
- Do I Need to Make an Appointment?
- Can I Apply for the Driving License Myself If I Can't Speak Thai?
- Applying for an International Driving License
- Driving Schools
- Now, on to You
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In order to qualify for a Thai driving license, you must be at least 18 years old, in good physical and mental health and hold a valid non-immigration visa.
The documents you need for a driving license are:
- an application form
- a passport along and non-immigrant visa
- a residence certificate address certified from the Immigration Bureau or from the applicant’s embassy, dated within thirty days of application or a work permit with a signed copy*
- a health certificate, issued at any clinic or hospital, dated within thirty days of the application
- optional: a valid international driver’s license with a signed copy, or regular driver’s license from the your home country translated into English and certified by the embassy or consulate
Here’s more into what you need to do on each document.
*Since the required documents are subject to change from time to time, it is best to check with the exact branch of the Department of Land Transport that you are planning to go before going to apply for the license.
You can pick up an application right at the Department of Land Transport. In many cases, the information counter will hand it to you and check your documents after you tell them that you are here to apply for a driver’s license.
Although the forms that you need to fill out and process are mainly in Thai, officers of the Department of Land Transport can communicate in basic English and explain the necessary steps for obtaining a driver’s license.
Passport and Visa Stamp
Although you must show that you’re living in Thailand long-term, some people have reported that they can get a Thai driving license even with a tourist visa. This is because most Department of Land Transport offices don’t actually care about what kind of visa you’re holding.
What they want to see is a residence certificate, which is difficult to get unless you have a long-term visa.
Also, depending on which Department of Land Transport office you go to, you may need to provide copies of the following pages from your passport:
- the first page of the passport
- the page containing the valid non-immigrant visa
- the page containing the last entry stamp for Thailand
If you don’t have copies yet, there’s usually a copy machine inside the Department of Land Transport that charges a few baht per page.
My recommendation is to make copies and sign them beforehand. If you make too many copies, they’ll give back the extras as they’re not needed. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
An easy way to get a residence certificate in Thailand is to visit your local immigration office with your passport, a 90-day notification receipt, and either a copy of your lease contract or your landlord’s housebook with their ID copies. You can usually get the certificate within one day, and it’s valid for 30 days.
Previously, you could use a work permit and a signed copy as an alternative to the residence certificate. However, we have received reports from our readers that the Department of Land Transport at Chatuchak no longer accepts a work permit with a signed copy. Instead, they always ask for a residence certificate.
If you have a yellow book, which is issued by having your name listed on a Thai house registration, you can use it as an alternative to the residence certificate.
To get a medical certificate for your driving license in Thailand, you can go to any clinic or hospital and let them know the purpose of your visit. They will usually ask to see your passport, ask you some questions, perform a quick checkup, and issue the certificate.
The cost of a medical certificate varies depending on where you go. Clinics typically charge between THB150 to THB300, while hospitals may charge THB600 or more, depending on the facilities and services available.
If you forget to bring your medical certificate with you to the Department of Land Transport, you can ask a motorcycle taxi for assistance. They can take you to the nearest clinic to obtain a new certificate.
In case it’s the Department of Land Transport at Chatuchak, you can also get a medical certificate from the clinic near the DLT’s entrance. It’s called Dr. Lamduan Clinic (Google Maps link), and he specializes in health certificates for Thai driving licenses. Just show your passport, fill out the form, and get your blood pressure checked. The cost is THB150 and takes no more than 10 minutes.
It’s worth noting that a medical certificate is valid for 30 days.
International Driver’s License (Optional)
If you have a driver’s license from your home country, it’s going to be very easy to get a Thai driving license because you can skip many of the required tests.
You can jump to this section to find out how to get a Thai driving license with a license from your home country.
Where to Apply for a Thai Driving License
You can get a Thai driving license at either the Department of Land Transport or a driving school.
Department of Land Transport
Driving licenses can be issued at any Department of Land Transport office in Thailand, which can be found throughout the country, with at least one office in each major town and several in larger cities.
To apply for your Thai driving license, you will need to take the completed application form to the testing center and inform them that you are applying for a one-year license. Because the Department of Land Transport is a government organization, it is important to dress modestly: shirts must have sleeves and shorts/skirts must be below the knees.
The Department of Land Transport offices are open on weekdays (excluding holidays), typically from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM or 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
However, you can actually go before the opening hours to avoid a long queue.
Please note that currently, an appointment is required for processing your driving license application. To book an appointment, you will need to visit the Department of Land Transport office in person with all required documents as listed above.
Following that, they will give you a date to return to complete the process.
Depending on the queue at the office on that particular day, walk-ins may be accepted.
Here’s a list of Department of Land Transport locations throughout Thailand:
Bang Khun Thian (Area One )
- Address: 1005 Bang Khun Thian-Chai Thalae Rd, Tha Kham, Bang Khun Thian, Bangkok 10150
- Phone: 02-415-7337
- Opening Hours: 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Taling Chan (Area Two)
- Address: 51 Soi Suan Phak 4 (Soi Khon Song) , Taling Chan, Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170
- Phone: 02-882-1623, 02-882-1624, 02-882-1629, 02-882-1634
- Opening Hours: 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Phra Khanong (Area Three)
- Address: 2479 Sukhumvit Road (Opposite Soi Sukhumvit 62/1), Bang Chak, Phra Khanong, Bangkok 10260
- Phone: 02-332-9688, 02-332-9689, 02-332-9691, 02-332-9694
- Opening Hours: 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Nong Chok (Area Four)
- Address: 4 Moo 6, Ruam Phatthana Road, Lam Toi Ting, Nong Chok, Bangkok 10530
- Phone: 02-543-5500, 02-543-5501, 02-543-5502
- Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Chatuchak (Area Five)
- Address: 1032 Phahonyothin Road, Chom Phon, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
- Phone: 02-771-8888
- Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
- Address: 192 Moo 7, Chiang Mai-Hangdong Road, Mae Hia, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50100
- Phone: 053-270410, 053-278570
- Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
- Address: 147 Moo 1, Sukhumvit Road, Nong Mai Daeng, Mueang Chonburi, Chonburi 20000
- Phone: 038-275-202, 038-277-876
- Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
- Address: 42/1 Rattanakosin 200 Pi Rd, Talat Nuea, Muang Phuket, Phuket 83150
- Phone: 076-214-930
- Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
You can find all offices of the Department of Land Transport office in Thailand online.
Alternatively, you can apply for a driving license at a driving school approved by the Department of Land Transport. In addition to teaching you how to drive, these schools offer a similar test to that of the Department of Land Transport.
Once you complete all the required tests, the school will give you an approval document that you can use to obtain your driving license at the Department of Land Transport. This option may be faster and more convenient, but it can be more expensive.
Driving schools typically charge between THB6,000 baht to THB10,000 baht for the driving courses and tests.
Procedure and Tests
For the most part, the procedure and tests are the same at all Department of Land Transport (DLT) offices. But for this guide, we’ll focus on the process at the DLT in Chatuchak, as it’s the most popular place for expats to get a Thai driving license.
When you get to the DLT, you have to walk to the back of the property to Building 4 — a large, white building. Enter the front doors and go to the help desk. Tell them what you’re there for, and they’ll check your documents, give you an application to fill out, and then provide you with a queue number.
Afterward, you have to go to the fourth floor and submit your documents to someone who will register your name in the system. (You’ll return to this area to get your license once you pass all your tests later on.)
The tests will be done in three parts over the course of three different days, which could take a few weeks altogether depending on how far apart you schedule each day.
- day one: physical test
- day two: theory test
- day three: driving test
Let’s take a look at each test individually.
Day One: Physical Tests
After you submit your documents on floor four, you have to go to floor three for your physical tests. All of the tests are straightforward and don’t require any preparation.
Before taking any of the tests, though, you have to sit and watch a video about the four tests until your group is called in. If you fail any of the tests on your first attempt, you have to go back outside and watch the video again before going back inside with the next group.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each of the four physical tests.
Color Blindness Test
At the first testing station, you have to stand in front of a mock traffic light and say the color you see, either red, green, or yellow. Thai is preferable but you can say the colors in English, too.
Keep in mind that certain countries refer to the “slow down” light as orange. If you come from one of these countries, do not call this light orange during the test. In Thailand, you must say yellow, or you will fail.
Depth Perception Test
The second station is to check your depth perception, and it could be quite tricky depending on the lighting.
Using a forward and backward button, you have to move a vertical bar inside a box 10 meters away so that the bar lines up with a stationary vertical bar next to it.
The bars are lit, but if there is strong lighting coming through the window, it could be hard to tell when the two bars are aligned.
At the third station, you have to check your reflexes. To do this, you sit behind a simulated brake and gas pedal and press the accelerator until the green LED lights on the panel start to illuminate. Then, you have to hit the brake pedal before the LED lights enter the red zone.
Lastly, you need to put your nose against a testing station to check your peripheral vision. While pointing your eyes at the officer in front of you, you have to say what color shows up on your left and right sides a few times.
After you complete these four tests, you can make an appointment to return to the DLT for your theory test. DLT staff will give you an appointment card.
Day Two: Theory Test
Before taking the theory test, you need to watch a four-to-five-hour video that covers all the major areas of driving in Thailand. The video is in Thai but has English subtitles. Go to the third floor to register for the theory test on the day of your appointment, and be sure to bring your appointment card and passport.
The video begins around 9 AM and breaks at 11:50 AM for lunch, then continues from 1 PM to 2:30 PM. At the end of the video, you will be given a book of road signs that you must know. Study these carefully, as they will show up on the test.
In all honesty, the video does little to help you prepare for the theory test. I highly recommend that you study for the test ahead of time, at least for one hour every day for the five days leading up to your theory test appointment.
There are a lot of resources out there that claim to help you, but I’ve found Ask About Thailand’s Practice Thai Driving Exam to be the absolute best.
These are the questions that will absolutely appear on the test. But be aware that each test is different. DLT pulls 50 questions from a pool of 1,000. But if you study the practice exam, you will be able to answer the questions no matter how differently they are worded.
After you watch the lengthy video, you will be ushered into a room on the same floor and register for the theory test. You have to scan your fingerprint with the main officer. Afterward, staff will take you to a computer, where you will have to scan your fingerprint again. Then you can begin the test.
You have to answer at least 45 out of 50 questions right to pass, and they are all multiple choice. The tricky thing is, some questions weren’t translated into English as clearly as they should’ve been. And some questions seem to have more than one right answer.
I questioned the staff about this, and they laughed it off and said, “Yes, I know.” So don’t expect help when confusing questions arise.
The best thing you can do is study the practice exam above, which will also have some roughly translated questions, and know the answers by heart.
If you fail, you can return the next day to retake the theory test. If you pass, you will be given another appointment card to return for your practical driving test.
Day Three: Practical Driving Test
Compared to other countries, the practical driving test in Thailand is relatively easy because you have to perform the test alone in a car, and there are no complicated maneuvers required.
However, you have to pay attention to the details required for each station, or you will fail the test. The practical driving test is made up of three stations (although DLT says five):
- driving forward and backward (counts as two stations)
- driving along a curb and stopping at a stop sign
- parallel parking and exiting (counts as two stations)
On the first test, you have to drive forward between a row a orange and white striped poles until the rear of your car passes the last pole. Then you have to drive in reverse through the same row until the front of your car passes the first pole. During the test, you cannot hit any of the poles or you’ll fail.
On the second test, you have to drive along a curb, making sure that your left front and rear wheels stay on the yellow line, about 25 centimeters from the curb. Then, you have to stop the car one meter from the stop sign.
On the third and final test, you have to parallel park the car in the space provided. You have up to seven gear switches to park the car. So, reversing into the spot is considered one gear switch, pulling forward while in the spot is considered two, and so on. However, pulling out of the spot is considered one gear switch. So be sure to count gear switches as you’re parking so that you leave yourself one or two gear switches to get out.
Not only do you have to do this in seven gear switches, but you have to park the car so that the left front and rear wheels are on the yellow line provided, about 50 centimeters from the curb.
While you’re taking these three tests, DLT observers will watch you to make sure you’re doing them correctly. When you’re satisfied with the position of your car at each of these stations, raise your right hand out of the driver’s side window to let the observer know to inspect your position.
For more details on how to undertake the practical driving test, you can watch this video.
You can rent a vehicle for the driving test from the DLT for between THB100 and THB200. However, they only offer Honda City cars. If you’ve never driven a Honda City before, you may not be able to judge the distance from the front and rear of the car to the orange and white striped poles or any curbs. So, if you have a car that you’ve been practicing in, bring that instead.
If you fail the practical driving test, you can retake it again after three business days. And you only have to redo the station you failed, not all three (unless you fail all three). However, you must pass all the stations in the practical driving test within 90 days, or you have to repeat the entire process.
Getting the License
Once you’ve done all the tests, it’s finally time to get your license. Head back to the fourth floor of Building A and wait for your queue number. Another officer will conduct a final check of your documents before taking your photo, receiving your payment, and granting you a two-year temporary Thai driving license.
It’s essential to examine the details printed on your license and ensure that they are correct, and if there is any discrepancy, make sure it is rectified before leaving the office.
Although the process may appear daunting for non-Thai citizens, the good news is that obtaining a Thai driving license is quite inexpensive.
The cost for taking the test and obtaining a two-year temporary license is only THB305, while a five-year license costs THB605.
Embassies typically charge a fee of between THB300 and THB500 to certify the applicant’s letter of address in Thailand. For a doctor’s certificate obtained from a clinic that confirms the applicant’s good physical and mental health, the norm is a fee of THB50 to THB200.
In addition, there is a service that helps expats to obtain a driver’s license by paying an additional fee and streamlining all of the details.
The procedure for getting a motorcycle driving license is almost identical to the process of obtaining a car driving license. It requires the same set of documents and physical tests for color blindness, peripheral vision, and reflexes. Similarly, it uses the same theoretical course and test.
The primary differences between obtaining a car and motorcycle driving license are the driving tests and the license fees.
You can apply for a motorcycle license at any Department of Land Transport. Bring the same set of documents that you would need for obtaining a car driving license. After that, you will have to undergo a physical test, watch a training video, and take a theory test in the same manner as you would for a car driving license.
During another visit to the Department of Land Transport, you might need to take a driving test to obtain your motorcycle driving license.
You can either use your own bike, rent one onsite for THB50 to THB100, or an officer could borrow one from another person taking the test. The test includes completing a short circuit, stopping at stop signs, and driving over a narrow path. In the waiting room, a video displays precisely what the test involves.
If you fail the test, you may have the option to retake it a few times on the same day based on the examiner’s discretion. Otherwise, you will need to return the following day and repeat the driving test.
Getting a Motorcycle License
Once you pass the driving test, return to the office area and wait for your queue number. Next, an officer will take your photograph, collect a fee of THB105, and issue you with a two-year temporary license.
I recommend that you apply for your motorcycle and driver’s licenses at the same time. If you don’t, you will have to undergo the physical and theoretical tests again if you decide to pursue either one later on.
You may renew both licenses at the same time when they expire.
Renewing Your License
Renewing a Thai driving license is a straightforward process. The entire procedure is akin to obtaining a driver’s license for the first time, including the required documents. However, this time around, you don’t need to undergo the theory test or the practical driving test.
Here’s a rundown of the steps you should follow to renew your Thai driver’s license:
Two-Year License to Five-Year License
You can renew your Thai driving license three months before it expires, and this time, it will be valid for five years instead of two.
To renew, gather the same set of documents that you needed when first applying for a driver’s license, along with your current Thai driving license, and go to any Department of Land Transport.
Go to the information counter to get a queue number, wait for your turn to undergo a color blindness test, peripheral vision test, reflex test, and depth perception test.
Once you pass all of the tests, you will have to pay THB505 to receive your five-year license.
If the queue is short, the whole renewal process can be completed within an hour.
To renew your five-year driving license, you should visit DLT e-learning and create an account there if you haven’t already done so.
After that, you can log in to your account to watch a one-hour video that teaches you about essential driving regulations in Thailand.
It’s worth noting that unless you possess the hacking expertise, you can’t skip the video or navigate to another webpage; otherwise, the video will stop automatically.
The video will ask you questions once every 10 minutes or so, and if you pay attention, you shouldn’t have any difficulty answering them.
After you complete the online video, you will receive a certificate. Ensure that you save a screenshot or print it out, as you will need it when renewing your license.
Next, visit your local Department of Land Transport with the same set of documents for getting a driver’s license. The process of renewing a five-year license is similar to changing from a two-year license to a five-year license – get a queue number, take all required physical tests, and then pay THB505 for the new five-year license.
If the queue is short, it’s possible to finish the entire process within an hour.
When Can I Renew My Driving License?
It’s possible to renew your Thai driving license three months before it expires, or within one year after it expires.
If it expired more than a year ago, you have to retake the theory test. And if it has expired for more than three years, you will need to retake the theory and practical driving tests.
Changing an International Driving License to a Thai Driving License
If you already have an international driver’s license or a driver’s license from your home country, you can use it to obtain a Thai driver’s license at any Department of Land Transport. All you need to do is bring a signed copy of your passport, a medical certificate, and a resident certificate.
Afterward, they will conduct tests for color blindness, peripheral vision, reflexes, and depth perception, before offering you a temporary driving license valid for two years, which can be extended to five years. You do not need to take the theory and practical driving test.
If you have a motorcycle license from your home country, it’s best to do a Thai motorcycle driving license at the same time.
However, some Department of Land Transport offices may require you to watch a video on how to drive in Thailand before granting you the driver’s license. If your home country driver’s license is not available in English, you require a translation and certification by your country’s embassy.
How Many Days Does It Take?
You may need to visit the Department of Land Transport three times, and there is an element of chance regarding scheduling. Typically, you will need to schedule an appointment on your first visit and take all necessary tests on your second visit, excluding the driving test.
You can take the driving test and get your license on your third and last visit.
However, the best case scenario is that you can take your test immediately on the day you come to schedule an appointment. Unfortunately, you may encounter bad luck and be unable to schedule an appointment for several days or even weeks. In the worst case I’ve seen, it took a month.
To avoid these potential delays, you should aim to complete the process in two days by arriving at the Department of Land Transport office early in the morning. However, be prepared for multiple trips as scheduling depends on availability. The department will inform you of the days on which you can take each test once you arrive.
When Should I Visit the Department of Land Transport?
If you do not have a driving license from your home country, it is advisable to visit the Department of Land Transport early in the morning, preferably before 8 a.m., to complete most processes on the same day.
However, you may need to come back the following day for the driving test. Alternatively, if you already possess a driving license from your home country, it is still advisable to arrive early in the morning to ensure that everything can be completed within a day.
Do I Need to Make an Appointment?
Currently, scheduling an appointment is mandatory for obtaining or renewing a Thai driving license.
To make an appointment, visit the Department of Land Transport office with all required documents, and a staff member will schedule an appointment for you.
Depending on the queue on that day, they may accept walk-ins as well.
Appointments can occur within a day, week, or even months, depending on the office’s workload. If you are in a hurry, it would be best to visit an office located outside the city center, as wait times tend to be shorter. For example, people frequently report receiving an appointment within a day at the Taling Chan Department of Land Transport.
However, it is important to note that departmental staff may have limited English proficiency, so having a Thai friend present to assist with the process is recommended. It is important to be aware that the DLT Smart Queue app, an appointment-scheduling application, is currently unavailable for expats
Can I Apply for the Driving License Myself If I Can’t Speak Thai?
Even if you do not understand Thai, it is still possible to go to the Department of Land Transport office and obtain a license independently. Several staff members are capable of speaking basic English and can assist you with the process.
However, if you prefer, you may also bring along a translator to assist you.
Applying for an International Driving License
You can get an international driving license (IDP) in Thailand with your five-year Thai driving license.
Just go to any Department of Land Transport with the following documents:
- your passport and non-immigrant visa
- copies of the first page of the passport
- copies of the page containing the valid non-immigrant visa
- letter of address certified from the Immigration Bureau or from the applicant’s embassy, dated within 30 days of application or a work permit with a signed copy
- your five-year Thai driving license with a signed copy
- two, 2-inch photos, taken within the last six months
Getting an international driving license is a simple process that can be done within a few hours. Once you arrive at the Department of Land Transport office, fill out the application form at the information counter, wait in line, and receive your International Driving Permit (IDP).
In some cases, if the queue is short, the process can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. The fee for an international driving license is THB505, and it is valid for one year. Additionally, it is possible to get a license for both a car and a motorcycle simultaneously.
Related article: How to Get an International Driver’s License in Thailand
If you haven’t yet learned to drive, then attending a driving course at a driving school in Thailand may be a worthwhile option. Courses usually cost between THB5,000 and THB6,000 per 15 hours, and upon completion of the course, the school will assist in preparing the necessary documentation and accompany you to the Department of Land Transport to apply for a Thai driving license.
It is generally easy to find driving schools, as they are widely available throughout the country. You can locate them quickly and conveniently by searching for “driving school” on Google Maps.
Now, on to You
The information provided in this article is correct as of March 2023, and certain details may change in the future. Therefore, the most accurate way to understand the current regulations is to inquire with the Department of Land Transportation directly.
Getting a Thai driving license can be a bit difficult for non-Thais who do not speak Thai or cannot accompany someone who can. This is why some individuals opt to hire companies that can help them get a Thai driving license.