The driver’s license is a universal requirement. Every country requires them from anyone who wish to pilot a four-wheeled or two-wheeled vehicle in its jurisdiction. Thailand is not an exception, and it’s a sign of good sense if, right now, you’re thinking about getting a driver’s license in the Kingdom.
When Is It Necessary for Foreigners?
First off – a local driver’s license is not necessary for short-stay tourists. In other words, if you’re in Thailand for one to three weeks, you wouldn’t need to apply for a Thai driver’s license. Your international driver’s license, if you have one, is fine.
Of course, without an international driver’s license, you can’t drive even if you’re just staying for the long-term.
However, if you’re planning to stay for more than 60 days – especially with the current long-stay Special Tourist Visa – you have to think about applying for a Thai driver’s license. Foreigners with business visas (Non-Immigrant B) who have purposes in visiting that requires them to stay for more than 60 days will want to apply before they can rent a car.
It is also necessary for expats who want to stay in Thailand for the long-term, and will want to have their own form of transportation.
How to Apply for a Thai Driver’s License
Driver’s licenses are the bailiwick of the Department of Land Transport. As such, the Department requires these documents from you as part of your application:
- Driver’s license from your home country
Having a valid driver’s license from your home country will simplify the process a lot further. Thai law recognizes these licenses as proof that you already know how to drive, and waives the theoretical and practical exams in your favor.
- Duly filled application form
You can obtain a copy from the nearest office of the Department of Land Transport, or you can download and print a copy online to fill out at your convenience.
- Medical certificate
You can obtain a medical certificate from any clinic or hospital in the city or town you’re staying at in Thailand. The process is very simple and straightforward as well.
- Permit of residence, or work permit
You will need to submit copies of these documents to the Department of Land Transportation. You can obtain a Residence Certificate verifying your address in Thailand from your embassy or, alternatively, from the nearest Immigration Bureau office. If you have a work permit, this will suffice as well.
- Passport and visa
You will need to make photocopies of your passport and your non-immigrant visa, and attach them to your application form and other documentary requirements you will be submitting.
Once you have these documents ready, it’s time to head over again to the Department of Land Transport and submit them to the officer on duty. You can expect the process to take at least half a day or, in worst case scenarios, two days.
Once you’re done, you’re free to drive yourself now through the roads of Thailand. As is the rule wherever you are, drive safe, and don’t drink and drive.