Last year I got a temporary driver’s license for both my motorbike and my car in Thailand. Recently that 1 year license has expired and it is time to move on to the next step, the 5 year license. I am living in Chiang Mai at the moment and decided to document on how one gets their 5 year license upgraded from the 1 year. Of course the way things work in Thailand these steps could change in the future so I would advise you to do some research before you go, usually the Thailand forums such as Thai Visa can help give you the most current procedures but as of last week this was the procedure in getting the license.

What you will need to upgrade to the 5 year license are the following:

1. You need to hand back in your old Thai licenses, you do not need to photocopy them.
2. A Thai Resident Certificate (Thai residence certificate process click here)
3. A Medical Certificate to state you are safe to drive
4. Photocopy of your passport (sign it)
5. Photocopy of your present visa stamp (sign it)
6. Photocopy of your Departure Card (sign it)
7. Your Actually passport for verification (They will not keep it)
8. Your address in Thailand is also needed

queue at drivers license area

queue at drivers license area

The Thai Resident Certificate I stated on how to get in an earlier post as mentioned above. To get your medical certificate it is pretty easy. Bring your passport to almost any hospital or clinic and tell them that you need the certificate in order to obtain a driver’s license. I personally went to Klaimor Hospital which is just a couple minutes from the Driver’s License office, I did it the same day I went to the office. I just handed the medical staff my Passport and then they took my blood pressure, asked me if I have had any operations or conditions and then a form was filled out and I paid 120 Baht.

You then take all your information above and head to the Department of Land Transport On Hang Dong Road. Since you are doing an upgrade from your 1 year license you don’t have to be there super early, however if you go in the afternoon I would not go much later then 2pm as they might tell you to come back tomorrow. The process is pretty simple. For upgrading to the 5 year license you head up to the second floor once you arrive to the information desk. At the information desk she will ask you what you are looking to do and they will check your paperwork.

waiting area for queue

If all is in order she will direct you to another desk where once again they will go through your paperwork and then direct you to the testing area where you will be tested by viewing a traffic light. You then will tell the employee what colors you see as she switches through green, yellow and red. After that you are issued a queue number in which you just sit back and wait.

If you have a big wait ahead of you then you don’t have to stay but make sure you are back when they call your number or you could miss your chance. On site they do have a little store, washrooms and photocopy areas if you need. When your queue number is called you go up and pay the cost of the license. I believe for both the car and bike license for 5 years it costs me 1050 Baht if memory serves me correctly. From there she directs you to go behind the desk and pick yet another queue number to have your photo taken. You are then called to the photo area where your photo is taken about 3 times and you get to choose which photo you like best. You then wait a few minutes as your license card is developed and given to you. Then your day is over and you got yourself a brand new 5 year license.

Personally, I managed to do everything in two days. The biggest delay was applying for the Thai Resident Certificate and then having to wait until the next day at 1pm to pick it up. From there I drove to the medical Center and then off to the license office. I was impressed with the staff at the Department of Land Transport they were very friendly, professional and though I can speak some Thai many of them (not all) had pretty good English skills as well and they really seemed like they were trying to help everyone, both Thai and Foreigners with any problems they might have.

If you plan to stay in Thailand a long time and you also plan to drive then having a Driver’s License is a good idea. First, if you get pulled over by the police you will not get a ticket. You can also use your license as a Thai ID for booking hotels, taking domestic flights and even get discounts such as some parks, temples etc. where many foreigners would be charged more. Also, if you ever get in an accident, not having a license I have heard can make your insurance void, though not always enforced but it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you don’t have a driver’s license at all in Thailand but you do have one in your own country you can apply for the temporary license which is now for 2 years. You do not have to take the Thai Driving Test if your license is still valid. If you do not have a valid license or you do not have the class such as motorcycle then yes you will have to take a written test and a driving test. I personally had to take a motorcycle driving test last year as I never had the license in my own country. So there you have it and I hope this post helps you out. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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