Thailand has a modern road network system that traverses the country. Thailand also has a lot to see and do, meaning people staying in the country are likely to use the roads to travel. You will also find taxis, buses, and other transportation that will take you where you like in comfort.
However, many people prefer the freedom of having their own transportation, whether it’s for work or pleasure. With your own vehicle, you get to decide your own departure dates and times and your own destinations, and you are free to stop off along the way as frequently as you please.
While Thailand does allow foreigners to drive, they must first have a driving licence, just like every other country. This article looks at how foreigners can get a Thailand driving licence, and other factors to bear in mind.
You won’t need to get a Thai driving licence if you have a valid international driving licence. An international driving licence will let you drive anywhere in the country, and the police and other authorities are known to accept them.
However, it should be noted that a non-Thai national driving licence will not be accepted. For example, if you’re British and have a British driving passport, you must get an international or Thai licence to drive.
Getting a Thai Driving Licence
Foreigners can apply for a Thai driving licence while in the country. The licences are issued by the Department of Land Transport which has offices located throughout the country. You can also apply for a Thai driving licence through a government-approved driving school. However, you should make an appointment first to ensure you get a place because some test centres can get very busy.
You will need to meet certain criteria to qualify for a Thai driving licence, including:
- ID – You must have a valid ID with you. For foreigners, this will usually mean your passport, which must also contain a valid visa.
- Age – For anybody to drive legally in Thailand, they must be 18 years old or above.
Note that you should also try to arrive at the test centre early. Getting a licence can involve a lot of waiting around, but you will be given your licence within the same day in most cases.
To help make things easier, you can pay an agency to help you with the paperwork and other arrangements. An agency may also be able to help you prepare for the test. Remember that while an agency can do some of the work for you, they don’t get to choose whether or not you qualify for a driving licence.
Depending on your country, the test is probably easier than you are used to. The test will also be broken down into two sections: Written and practical.
The practical test involves answering questions in a multiple-choice format. The questions are usually quite self-explanatory, and most people who already drive should be able to pass with no further coaching.
While you might expect to have to pass your test on the roads, that’s not always the case in Thailand. Instead, applicants are expected to drive their vehicle around a pre-designed circuit that simulates stops, junctions, and other road features. Just pay attention to the markings on the circuit, stop and react accordingly, and you should pass with flying colours.
In most cases, you will be given your licence on the day. The licence will be made from a printed, laminated card that’s durable enough, provided you keep it in a safe place. You are free to drive on Thai roads as soon as you receive your licence, provided you meet the other criteria.
You must be insured to legally drive on Thai roads even if you do have a licence. If you are caught driving without insurance in the country, then you could find yourself in trouble with the authorities. You could also end up having to pay for repairs and damages if you have an accident.
Many tourist destinations rent cars to holidaymakers, and it is important to ensure these rental companies offer insurance. In many cases, a rental company will ask for ID (potentially keeping your passport for security) and nothing else.
While a rental company might let you rent one of their cars, it does not mean you are legally entitled to drive on the road. If you are caught driving a rental vehicle without a licence and insurance, your vacation may be caught short.
Thai Road Laws
It should come as no surprise that any foreign driver is expected to abide by Thai road laws. Such laws include no speeding, no drinking while under the influence, obeying road signs, and so on. Some foreigners might become complacent because of the often lackadaisical approach Thai authorities often seem to take to enforcing the law. However, the police are well within their rights to arrest you should you break the law, and many foreigners have found at their peril.
Having your own car will help give you more freedom and help you see more of the incredible country that is Thailand. Of course, you will need to abide by the Thai road laws, which include having a valid driving licence.
If you don’t have an international licence, you will need to obtain a Thai driving licence, which is thankfully fairly easy to do. You will need to take a driving test, which most people should be able to pass with ease if they already know how to drive. A Thai driving licence is also very affordable and will often be given on the same day.
Plus, of course, you will need to obey other Thai road laws, and you must be insured.
If you would like more information on getting a Thai driving licence or you need with anything else related to staying in Thailand, the team at Thai Visa Expert is happy to help.