Department responsible and paperwork required:
Responsibility for processing all Thai driving licence application falls to The Department of Land Transport office. There are local offices throughout the country.
When applying you should go in person to the nearest Land Transport Office and have the following documentation (plus signed copies of each) with you.
Note: The paperwork listed below is the standard and generally accepted requirement. However, some local offices may deem it necessary to ask you for additional paperwork. To save yourself a wasted journey it is worthwhile phoning the office you will attend to establish exactly what they require.
- Current passport with a valid non-immigrant visa
- Work permit: If you hold a valid work permit this should be presented. If you do not have a work permit there are two valid alternatives. The first is a Certificate of Residence. This is issued by the Thai Immigration Bureau or you can obtain a Letter of Residence that must be issued by your country’s embassy. The Certificate of Residence is by far the fastest, cheapest and least time-consuming option. Both documents must be less than 30 days old.
- Medical certificate: You can obtain a medical certificate from any hospital or health clinic. Once again this must be no more than 30 days old.
- Photographs: The procedure states that two 1×1” (inch) photographs that are less than 6 months old should be presented, but most of the offices do not require these. This is because they take your photograph with a DLT camera as part of their local process.
- Driving licence: You should present either a valid international driving licence or your current foreign driving licence. Translation requirements: Once again the standard ruling on translation is dependent upon the office you visit. In general, if your driving licence is written in English a certified translation is NOT necessary. If it is written in any other language it must be presented with a certified translation copy. If you have an English language licence you could try and get a definitive answer by calling the office before you visit, but if in any doubt a certified translation copy may be worth obtaining.
- Fee: The actual cost of a Thai driving licence will be the least of your concerns. Fees are 205 baht for a car licence and 155 baht for a motorcycle licence.
It is strongly recommended that you recruit the assistance of a person who speaks, reads and writes Thai fluently. This is because all paperwork is in Thai and any questions or requests will more than likely be in Thai with an expectation that you respond likewise. Some offices do have English speaking staff available but it is better to be safe than sorry.
When you have checked that all relevant documentation is present and correct you would be wise to make an early start. Offices are constantly busy and generally overcrowded. Try and reach the office between 08.00-08.30hrs. It has been known at some of the busier offices that applicants arriving after 09.00hrs have been turned away.
You will be required to complete the application form and then hand it in. After this you will join the queue to participate in an eyesight test and then join another queue to complete a reaction test.
Once you have successfully completed all of the above a Thai driving licence valid for a one-year period will be issued. Upon expiry you will need to renew your licence. When doing so you can apply for a licence with a 5-year validity.
The application procedure can take around 2-2.5hrs and the office is generally noisy and overcrowded. Before leaving home call on an extra store of patience and try and grab another bag en-route!
Those of us who have been here long enough to be applying for a driving licence should know that the last thing you should do if frustrated by red-tape or any situation is to lose your patience, raise your voice or become involved in an argument.
Yes, it may be a frustrating time, but staying calm and remaining polite should be of benefit to all concerned. One thing is for sure; taking this stance will do your blood pressure the power of good!