If one stays longer than the usual and one is crazy enough to participate in Thai traffic, either by car or motorbike, the Thai Government wants tourists and Expats to possess a Thai driving license.Those can be obtained – literally – at the Provincial Land Transport Office.
“Longer then the usual” is not really definable as no one could tell me the exact rule.Not even the officer at the Traffic Department. Anyhow, curious if I could get a Thai license myself I started digging into it and here comes my experience:
As I usually do, rather then rely on information available on the net, I went straight to the relevant department. Here in Chiang Mai it would be the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office. It is located next to the South end of the runway on Hang Dong Road. Please click here to see the location on the map.
I asked if I would be eligible for a license and if so, what documents I would need to present. Surprisingly, the lady at the counter spoke perfect English and handed me a leaflet with a list of documents to bring and copies to make. We agreed that I may apply for a car – and a motorbike license at the same time. She advised, to return early in the morning as I had to do a couple of tests.
Besides that you will need your passport, all relevant pages copied, a medical certificate, the driving license from your country – if any – (copy both sides) and the translation/confirmation letter from your consulate.
You can easily get a medical certificate at any doctors’ office or hospital.I went to Ram Hospital, and left there with the certificate 15 minutes later, costs ฿200 / €5.30. Basically, you walk to the reception, ask for this certificate and they will guide you through the process. First you need to register, second they will measure your vital statistics and third, a 2 minute visit at the doctors’ office where will will be ask a couple of questions. Pay the fee at the cashier and you will get the certificate.
If you are holding a valid driving license issued by your country of origin you would need to visit your consulate or embassy in order to have it translated/conformed. I have done so at the German Consulate here in Chiang Mai. It will take a couple of days and the costs would be ฿1490 / €40. The document you will receive is basically a written confirmation in Thai language to confirm what driving license(s) you are holding.
With this document in your hands the traffic department will issue a driving license without any training and tests.
If you do not have a license you will bring all above, come very early and take 4 hours training and a small driving test. I did not do it, please find more information about it on the net.
For me, I arrived at 8.00 am, handed all my papers, had to performed a little color test and received a queue number. I waited roughly 5 hours and been called to the officer. I paid the fee of ฿360 /€9.55 for both, car and motorbike licenses. I have been asked to queue up for them to take my picture and after the pic has been taken both licenses had been printed and I walked out there with my two new documents,
Each license is valid for two years.
I like to mention that since I can provide a Thai driving license during road stops the police officers’ mood seems to change and they wave me through with a big smile.