How to get a Thai Driving License in Phuket
This page is about getting a Thai driving license in Phuket.
Note that foreigners can only get a full Thai driving license if they have a non-immigrant visa. Those on tourist visas can get the temporary 1-year Thai driving license. Also note that the requirements are prone to change so this page should only be taken as a guide.
Reasons to get a Thai Driving License
1) It is illegal to drive in Thailand without a valid driving license.
2) Driving without a valid driving license will invalidate your vehicle insurance.
3) International driving licenses are only valid for three months from your date of entry into Thailand. Okay - police are unlikely to check your date of entry but if you are here for a long time then IDLs are not valid.
4) Your first Thai driving license is only 60 baht for motorcycles or 110 baht for cars.
5) It is a form of ID that is generally recognised in Thailand. Remember that legally you should carry a recognised form of ID at all times. Most people do not want to carry their passport all the time. The police do not ask to see foreigner's passports very often but if they do, then showing a Thai driving license will usually satisfy them.
6) A Thai driving license will often get you Thai entry prices at national parks and other places.
Getting a Thai driving license is a tedious but generally straightforward process. Remember when dealing with Thai officials you will get a better response if you are polite, patient and well presented.
You will need to present your paperwork, watch a video on the Thai highway code (available in English) and do a multiple choice exam.
If you have a valid international driving license or an English language driving license from your home country then you do not need to do the driving tests. In that case you should complete the whole process in three to four hours. If you do not have an English language driving license then you will need to do the driving test. If you need to do the driving test, you will be there all day.
In Thailand, you need a separate license for cars and motorcycles. If you want to drive cars and motorcycles, then you need to apply for both licenses. You will need two copies of all the documents described below.
1) Passport with non-immigrant visa. You will also need photocopies of the photo page, non-immigrant visa page and current entry stamp page.
2) Confirmation of Address. This should come from your embassy in Thailand or from a Thai immigration office. As we are in Phuket, it will be easier to get the letter from the immigration office. You will need to visit the immigration office with some proof of address. If you live with a Thai who is registered on the tabien baan (house registration book) then they can sign to vouch you live at the same address. Alternatively, you will need a rental contract with your name on it. You will also need your passport. The letter costs 100 baht and is valid for one month.
3) Health Certificate. These are only required when you first apply for a driving license. They are not needed for license renewals. They can be easily obtained from any doctor's clinic or hospital. They do not always accept copies so if you are applying for two driving licenses (car and motorcycle) then it is worth getting two certificates. The health certificate should cost around 100 baht and is valid for one month.
4) International driving license or national driving license. If you do not want to do the driving tests (and believe us you don't) then you need a valid driving license. It should be an international driving license or a national driving license from your home country either in English or with a certified Thai translation from your embassy. The Phuket office seems to be generous in allowing English language licenses. You should bring the original license and a photocopy.
5) Photos. They used to require photos but they now take a digital photo on their computer which they print onto the license. It has also been reported that women must not wear sleaveless tops/blouses for this photo.
Where to Go
You need to go to the Phuket Provincial Land Transport Office in Phuket Town on Rattanakosin Song Roi Pee Road. This road runs parallel to the canal at Saphin Hin. The Transport office is on the other side of the road from the canal between Soi Sakdidet 1 and Soi Sakdidet 3.
When you enter the car park, you need to turn right and then swing left to the building at the back right hand corner of the compound..
What to Do
1) Arrive with your documents prepared between 08:00 and 08:30. If you arrive later then you may find there are too many people ahead of you and they will tell you to come back tomorrow.
2) Join the queue to the information desk. They will check your documents and if they are in order they will give you an application form. This is a simple form requiring your name and the types of license for which you are applying. The person at the desk will assist you if necessary.
3) Now go to the end of the room where they do the eyesight and reaction tests. Just sit down with everyone else and they will call your name when it is your turn.
4) The eyesight and reaction tests are easy as long as your eyesight is reasonable. Bring spectacles if you need them.
Reaction Test - Two pedals on the floor and two lights in front of you. Use your right foot to press down the right pedal and the green light comes on. When the light changes to red quickly switch your right foot to the left pedal. A line of lights measures your reaction time - as long as you are still in the green zone, you have passed.
Distance Judgment Eye Test - A little difficult to describe this one but you will get it when you see it. You sit on a chair. About four meters in front of you is a box containing two upright white sticks. You have two pieces of string that allow you to pull one of the sticks toward you or away from you. You pull the stick until you think it is parallel with the other stick.
Peripheral Vision Eye Test - Place your nose on a table looking at a yellow square directly in front. Coloured lights are lit to your left and right. Identify the colour without looking to the side.
Okay you have passed the tests ( we hope ).
Video and Test
You now need to watch a video about the Thai highway code. You will be told what time the English language version will be played. It is usually around 10am. It is played in the video room on the second floor and the video lasts for around one hour. Watch the video carefully because there is a test after,
If you are renewing your license the process is now complete. Go to the collect your license section below.
If this is your first license you will now need to do a multi-choice exam on the video you have just watched. Some of the questions are tricky and seem to have more than one plausible answer. take your time and think about what is the best answer and you will be just fine.
You have passed your test. If you came with a English driving license then you have completed the application process. Go to the collect your license section below.
You did not have an English driving license? Oh dear. You will have to do the driving tests. The driving tests take place in the afternoon. They are a slightly absurd and comical exercise. There is a driving course at the back of the compound. You need to drive around the course and complete some maneuvers such as a hill start and reverse parking. The testers do not sit in the cars. They watch from the upstairs window of the office. If you fail, you can try again but you may run out of time. The driving standards of some of the people doing the tests are shocking. It is very entertaining to watch.
Note if you came with an English driving license and did not have to do the Thai driving test then there will not be many people here and this is a quick process. If you had to do the driving test then you will be in with the mass of Thai applicants and this could take some time.
1) Take your signed documentation to the first floor. There is a number queuing system. The tickets are on the counter. Collect the next number and wait for it to come up on the display. Go to the indicated desk and hand in your documentation. You will pay the license fee (first license is 110 baht for cars and 60 baht for motorcyles).
2) Now you join the queue to have your photo taken and license printed. There is a small extra charge for the card.
Yippee - you now have a Thai driving license. Your first license is temporary and is only valid for one year.
Renewing the License
Your first license is a temporary 1-year license. In one years time you can renew the license and the new one will be valid for five years. The renewal process is painless.
Strangely, if you have the 1-year temporary license, you should renew after it expires. If you renew before it expires then you will only get another 1-year license. If you already have a 5-year license you can renew 3-months before or after it expires. The expiry date is usually set to your birthday so going just after your birthday actually makes it close to a 6-year renewal.
You will need your passport with non-immigrant visa, photocopies of all relevant pages, confirmation of address letter, medical certificate and old driving license.
You need to watch the video again but do not need to re-take any of the above tests. The renewal fee is 550-baht for a cars and 300-baht for motorcycles.
Driving in Phuket - Driving information for Phuket and Thailand in general.