If you’re a foreigner and it’s your intention to stay in Thailand on a long term basis, it is advisable to apply for a Thai driving licence. Obtaining a Thai driving licence does have some advantages. If you’re currently here and drive on an International Driving license, this licence is only valid for a relatively short time (approx 3 months) a Thai licence is valid for a longer period of time. It is worth noting that non international licence i.e. a driving licence which has been issued in your home country is not officially recognised in Thailand.
If you apply for and receive a Thai driver’s licence, it can be used as an official form of identification. If you are required to present it for any reason, it will be seen that you are not a tourist. Furthermore, in many cases when dual pricing applies, it will allow you to pay the Thai price, not the tourist price, visiting a tourist attraction where an entrance fee is charged is a good example.
To obtain a Thai licence, you must apply in the province in which you reside. Therefore, if you reside in Phuket, you need to apply in Phuket.
To apply, you will need the following…
1. Your valid passport, containing a Non-Immigrant visa (visa on arrival or tourist visas are not good enough).
2. Signed copies of the main photo page of your passport, of the current visa and the latest entry stamp.
3. A certified letter from your embassy stating your address, or a letter from the immigration department (Note: If you have a work permit, this will serve as verification of your address).
4. The fee of 105 Baht (correct at the time of writing).
5. Certification from a doctor that you are in good health and fit to drive.
6. 2 Passport sized photographs. Photographs no longer required. As of 2008, your picture is taken when the licence is issued.
7. A valid International Driving Permit and a signed copy of the driving licence issued in your home country, certified by your embassy.
If your Thai language skills are limited, it is advisable to take a Thai speaking friend, to assist you in translating the forms which need to be completed and also communicate with the officials. In most cases, you are required to take a colour blindness test, amongst a few other things.
After processing the completed forms, you will have to pay the fee and then issued with a 1 year temporary Thai drivers licence. After one year, go back to the land transport office again with the one you were just issued and apply for a 5 Year Licence.