Foreign drivers license
First of all, you need to know that also foreign can get a driving license.
To drive or rent a car in Thailand, many car rental companies require a full driver’s license with a photograph and be held for at least 2 years with no major endorsements.
If your domestic driver’s license is not in English, one of the documents below is required together with your original driver’s license:
– an International Driving Permit (IDP) / International Driver’s License (IDL)
– an official translation in English or Thai.
Age Requirement: The minimum age generally to rent a vehicle in Thailand is 21 years old. If you’re 21-25, you are likely to have to pay a young driver fee. If you’re 65 or older, you may have to pay a senior driver fee. But the age restrictions may vary by different car categories and different car hire companies.
Please Note: Each car rental company has its own requirements.
Motorcycle Licences: To exchange a motorbike licence the procedure is essentially the same. There is no limit to the size of the engine that can be driven with the licence.
What you will need when applying for your Thai drivers’ license
(Assistance Fee: 3,500 Baht)
If you can not read and/nor understand the Thai language, you are allowed to bring an interpreter to fill the forms and translate the possible instruction class and tests.
Valid Passport with Valid Non-immigrant Visa
Signed copies of the passport’s first page, the page with the current non-immigrant visa, the page with the last entry stamp and the TM-card.
A certified letter of address from the applicant’s embassy, or from the Immigration Bureau (the document can not be older than 30 days).
Tip: The letter from the embassy is the fastest option, but the immigration office will provide this service for free. However, it will take them 3-6 weeks to complete and an officer from your local police station will visit your place of residence for verification. If you are working in Thailand: the blue workbook, better known as your work permit, can replace either of these documents and serve as address verification.
– A doctor’s certificate stating that the applicant is in good health, both physically and mentally (standard forms are available from most clinics and should not be more than 30 days old).
– 2 photos, 1 x 1 inch and not older than 6 months (photo service is available on the premises).
– Valid international driver’s license plus signed photocopy or translated regular driving licence from the applicant’s home country, certified by Embassy or consulate. (if available).
– Note that 1 set of these documents is required per licence applications. However, when applying for both a car and a motorcycle license, an extra copy of the doctor’s certificate and the letter of the address will suffice for the second application.
Prepare for Thai traffic situations
Once you have successfully received your license, which usually happens on the day of your application, you should be aware of the following traffic rules:
-you must be at least 18 to drive.
-legal limit BAC is 0.5 mg per 1 liter of alcohol.
-seat belts are mandatory in front seats only, child car seats are optional.
-if you are driving a motorcycle you must wear a helmet.
-the speed limits range as follows:-50 – 60 km/h in suburban streets
-90 – 120 km/h on highways
-keep in mind that due to the high volume of traffic on Thai streets, the average speed will be determined by the general flow of the traffic, not a sign (that is if you see one)
!!! Carry your vehicle registration and driver’s license on you at all times.
Driving in Thailand is challenging and dangerous. Due to the mad volume of traffic and the fact that its roadways are not well maintained and rather confusing, many accidents occur. In Thailand, people drive on the left side of the road. If you’re an expat coming from a country where this is also the norm, adjusting to driving in Thailand should be slightly easier. For expats who don’t have this advantage, this is all the more reason to be extremely cautious when driving in Thailand. When driving in Thailand’s larger cities in general, it is wise to avoid the left lane as it is generally reserved for loading and parking. When stopping at an intersection, leave some room between you and the car in front of you. No matter how tight of a squeeze it is, a motorcyclist will inevitably try to weave through. So you might as well give your car a bit of a break. This is an extremely important one. We know, you’re on your holiday in paradise and you want to enjoy a drink in the evening, but if you do it’s imperative that you leave your car or bike at home. Thai roads are dangerous at the best of times, and driving under the influence of drinks or drugs is an accident waiting to happen. Even if you consider yourself to be below the legal limit, it’s worth keeping in mind that this isn’t the West, with big roads and wide pavements. Don’t take the risk; take public transport to the bar and leave the keys at the hotel.
It is important to get a driver licence?
Roads are designed with scant regard for safety – Mainly concerned with the maximum volume of traffic, even new roads are poorly designed and encourage speeding. Dual carriageways seldom have Armco barriers in the center, relying on trees or concrete to deal with aberrant vehicles.
Why bother with getting one? Well, there are several reasons:
One example is daily activities like entering any kind of hotel, company or government premises that requires an ID, a Thai driving license is very useful and acceptable. For foreigners sending remittance back home Thai driving license is valid. Even going out partying at night clubs requires ID – of course presenting a Thai driving license is more than enough to let you enjoy the rest of the night. It is also very good for you if you want to visit some parks or maybe some Zoos which has dual pricing (one cheaper price for Thai, more expensive for foreigner)and pay the same as a Thai national would instead of the inflated ‘farang’ price.
Drivers can’t claim on car insurance in respect of damage caused by that driver when they have violated the Land Traffic Act BE 2522 (1979). Driving without a driving license or with one that’s already expired is just such a violation. While you can use your international driving license, take note that you may not be fully covered, as some car insurance companies require that drivers hold a valid Thai driving license to make claims.
For many expats and overseas investors, simply using public transport is not enough when working or living in Thailand. Many want the freedom of the roads and wish to drive legally for themselves. Obtaining a driving license in Thailand can indeed provide you with freedom and allow you to travel further afield and explore the country in full.