Century21 Sweet Home Blog

Expat Driving in Thailand: How to Get a Driving License

If you are an expat currently living in Thailand, it is a pretty safe bet that you are enjoying the Thai experience and generally satisfied with your stay here. If you are somebody who’s planning on moving to Thailand, you surely won’t be regretting it. Thailand, being an amazing country and all, does not disappoint in the area of livability and comfort.

It may have crossed your mind to get your own car as your choice of transportation in Thailand. While Thailand’s public transport has improved throughout the years, it is still struggling to handle the commuters during rush hour. It isn’t unusual for someone to consider a personal vehicle to move around the country over the preference of using public transport.

Do not get your hopes too high on the Thai driving experience. Sorry to rain on your parade, but traffic and road congestion is a major problem in Thailand’s motorways. Driving in Thailand can be a real headache for the faint of heart. It’s not your usual walk in the park; it’s more of a challenge and an adventure.

Driving in Thailand is still a great option when going to places without very heavy traffic, mostly during off-peak hours. Having accepted such facts and realized that you are strong enough to deal with them, you may now begin driving in Thailand as soon as you have your driver’s license.

There are two ways to get a driver’s license: an international driving license for tourists, which is temporary; and getting a Thailand driving license for those expats who will be living in Thailand.

You can either come to Thailand armed with an international driving license or you can use your current driving license if it is issued by a country that has an agreement with Thailand. Most countries have an agreement with Thai government on the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. These will usually be accepted up to three months from your date of arrival in Thailand and your license needs to have a photo and in English.

If you’re planning to do any driving within the first three months of arriving in Thailand, it is good to come armed with any of these two types of driving license. If you’re staying longer than that, you need to have a Thai driving license. To get one, all you need is to submit a few documents required by the Department of Land Transport. These documents are:

  • Passport (valid non-immigrant visa)
  • Work permit or Certificate of Residence
  • Medical certificate
  • Two 1×1 photographs
  • Valid driving license
  • Filled-out application form
  • Processing fee (305 THB for a new license, 605 THB for renewal)

After submitting those, you will be asked to fill in an application form and be asked to participate in a series of tests. The first driving license you will be issued with is a temporary two-year driving license. You will have to renew it before its expiry and then you’ll be issued a regular license valid for five years.

The application process may take a few hours, but after everything is done, you are now ready to hit the Thai roads. Just remember to keep road safety first and foremost in your mind when driving through Thailand’s busy streets.


Moving to Thailand soon? Check out our list of apartments for rent in Bangkok!