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Renewing A Five Year Thai Driver's License


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I post this in case it helps one or two guys get this done smoothly.


I've had a Thai driver's license since 2000. You have to get a first license, and then a couple of one-year renewals, and they then let you renew for five years at a time. I had five one-year licenses, and then two five year licenses. The license expires on your birthday. You can renew the license during a window from several weeks before your expiration, until several weeks after your expiration.


What I describe applies to renewal of a five year license - ONLY. Rules may differ for one-year renewals, and they definaiely differ for initial application


TIP #1 - renew after expiration. I renewed six days after expiration, and the new expiration is on my birthday in 2021- six days short of SIX YEARS. I previously always renewed BEFORE expiration, and just got five years.


What you need to bring:



Old Thai driver's license

Work permit (or - if no work permit - you need to bring Embassy-certification of your residence address)

655 baht per each license that you want (car, and/or motorcycle)

Bring an ink pen


Tip #2 - you no longer need a medical exam certificate. I paid 500 baht for one, and brought it - and no one was interested


I went to the main renewal location at the Department of Land Transport complex near Chatuchak Market. This is a complex of at least six big buildings, spread across a large campus. Where you go for driver's licenses is Building 4 - at GPS 13.797339, 100.554234 . It is about a 700 meter hike from Mochit BTS Station. The building numbers are in Thai script, at top of each building, readable from a km away. The Thai script numeral for four is https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTJQx5ofKRorhZkqpzmejSan1bXWGl5G6a2BNHMVwyz53j5mrop


When you get to the building, go to the main entrance, and walk in. Big open space. Head to the left rear - where , at the base of a wide stairway, there is a desk with two girls running copy machines. 2 baht per copy. Hand them your passport and work permit - they know which pages to copy. Two passport pages, and 3-6 work permit pages. 16 baht maximum.


Next, climb the stairs - where you face a registration center - big wide counter with maybe six lanes. Slide to the left - where there is a long counter/shelf - and ink-sign all pages of copies. Then - get in any lane.


When its your turn, hand over your stuff. They fumble for 45 seconds , then hand you back a bundle of forms - and they have you write only two things: 1) You passport name in block letters 2) Your (mobile) phone number, above a smudged blue ink stamp. They then give you a paper queue number slip - which has the queue number (BIG), and also the desk number. Mine was 3010, and Desk 18.


You about-face, and exit the room, and then turn left to go into another "room" - which is basically a big hallway, with desk cubicles off of it. Evidently, farangs are sent to desks 17 and 18 (English-speaking staff) - which are at the right end, as you enter. You sit, and wait for your queue number. When called you go in, hand over your bundle, and they fiddle some more - and then give you back a smaller bundle, and tell you to go to third floor.


Go back out, and climb the stairs to third floor. At third floor, there is a big waiting room, facing a TV monitor, and then off to the left, another room, with eye-coordination physical testing. Go to "Information" desk at the the back left of the waiting room, and hand in your packet. They give you a green plastic queue number tag - mine was 261. You then sit in the waiting room, and watch a video about the tests. You end up watching the video about four times, alternating between Thai and English versions. They periodically call out batches of about 20 numbers, and you proceed to the testing room when your number is called (in Thai).


Test 1 - Standing, you watch a traffic signal about five meters away, three lense-circles high, which flashes green, red, or yellow, in any order - a total of maybe eight or ten flashes. Each time, you simply state the color. Note: the yellow looked greenish-yellow to me, and I called green the first time - but the next flash was "serious" green - so I realized that I screwed up before. I guess they gave me extra flashes - because I then got the rest easily correct.


You then move to Tests 2 and 3, side by side. Test 2 is a depth perception test. The video ahead of time does not really make it clear. You face a box - maybe four meters away - with a black interior background. There are two vertical posts in the box - whitish color. The post on the right is fixed in position. The post on the left moves backwards and forwards along a track. You are presented with two buttons - green and red. Green moves the left post forward and backward, in full sweeps. Red stops the left-hand post in place. What you are supposed to do is move the left-hand post forward or back, and stop it when it is at the same distance from you as the right-hand post. It is actually pretty screwed up - the lighting is bad, the green button seems to have a long lag in movement. The good news is - the "forward and back" tolerance in relation to the reference post is evidently huge. I think they simply passed everybody.


You then slide left to Test #3. Two pedals on the floor - gas (petrol) and brake. Vertical scoring panel five meters away, with green and red lamp. You step on the gas pedal - a brief lag - and green lamp lights up. It stays green for a few seconds, and then the display switches to the red lamp - and you have to slam on the brakes. There is a column of lights on the scoring panel, which climb upward with each millisecond between red light going on, and you hitting the brakes. You have to hit the brakes before the light column reaches the top. It goes quite quickly - you have to be sharp.


You then go to the final test - Test 4 - Peripheral vision. You place the bridge of your nose into a guide, and stare straight ahead. They then flash green, red or yellow lights off to the far sides. You simply have to state the color. Again, their yellow looked slightly greenish to me - but I think they were not concerned with that distinction - as long as you saw the flashes at all. I think five or six flashes each side.


They then give you your document packet, and send you up to fourth floor.


Note: I think that after the second floor stage, the sequence can switch between going to third floor or fourth floor next - because I saw a guy who was with me originally, but he then went next to 4th floor, and then to 3rd floor.


At fourth floor, there are a bunch of people sitting in a waiting room. You go to the window at front end of room, and hand over your documents. They have you enter your name into a ledger book, and they then give you a yellow queue number, which also has a room number, and a time period. The rooms are 401, 402, and 403. My queue tag had 10:00- 11:00 and Room 403.


Bizzaro note: As I reached the fourth floor waiting area, there was Nescafe promotional stand set up, offering free cans of chilled Nescafe coffee drink. The stand was operated by a tall (at least 80 cm), leggy, reasonably attractive Thai chick in shiny black hot pants and vest - looking like a Coyote dancer. As I was sitting down, she was packing up - I guess for a break - and put up a little sandwich board that said (in Thai) "Will be back at 11:00 am"


At 10:00 am, they called for everyone who had room 401 - and everyone else went in - and then the lady who had given me the queue card - and had specifically told me to wait for room 403 - now told me to just go into room 401.


I then went into room 401 and watched EXACTLY one hour of video about driving, accidents, etc - all in Thai language.


My guess is - if they have enough foreigners, they run a session in Room 403 in English. I was the only farang out of maybe 50 people - so they just said the hell with it, and sent me to join the Thais.


After one hour, they released everybody - and told everyone to find their document packet from a line of desks along one wall - where all the document sets were laid out in a row. But - as I came out - a lady was standing there - dedicated to me - holding just my passport and one small square of paper. She handed it to me, and told me to go back to second floor.


I went back to Desk 18, and sat outside it, in the seating queue. An assistant lady had helped me earlier, and I got her attention, and she took my one scrap of paper, and dug my document packet out of an in-box - and handed it to me, and asked me to proofread my details. She also motioned me to enter cubicle 18 - where another guy was still finishing up. I looked everything over - it was OK - and I signed the place where it said (in English) to sign. The other guy left, I handed the packet to the lady, she fumbled with it for 90 seconds, then made some entries on her computer, then asked me for 655 baht. I gave it to her - and she then asked me to move to the photo-taking seat. She then took two photos - and then asked me to come around to her side of the desk, and pick the image that I liked best (!!). I did so - and she fumbled with the computer for 60 seconds. A printer next to her then printed a page -which she folded into thirds, and then tore into three sections. She gave me one section - my receipt. She then fumbled for another 60 seconds - then left the cubicle to go around behind the row of cubicles to a special printer. 90 seconds later, she returned with my license, and set it on the desk - and told me that I now had another five years.


Mission accomplished. And - my new license is actually good for 5 years and 359 days.


I entered the building at 8:50 am, and departed at 11:20 am. If you hit perfect timing at all points, it could all be done in about 100-105 minutes.


'Hope that helps someone.




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  • 2 months later...



If you had to post this 1,893 word (7,884 characters w/out spaces or 9, 901 characters with spaces) how-to so a; dim- nit- half- (insert your favorite prefix for) "wit" could renew their 5 year thai driver's license, you're posing, err posting in the wrong place...


Christ, we ain't sequencing the human genome.. It's a driver's license..!


BTW: you only "usually" get a 1 year "temporary license" and after that you get a 5 year.. There's no, "couple of one-year renewals", that I've seen, unless you don't hold the right extension of stay to get a 5 year license..


Still, I guess it's good info..

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Question if anyone knows. A little over 14 months from now will do a yearlong stay in the chiang mai / chiang rai area.


If I show up with one of the international driver's licenses you can get from AAA, will that suffice (in combination with a valid US license)? Can I just use that for the year without running into problems?

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I've have been using my international driver's license for the past ten years. I do not want to show my Thai DL

unless I am pressed to do (and have never been pressed to do so) so and to date, the international driver's license has always been OK. This has been

all over LOS.



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Years ago I was in Phuket on business with a Brit colleague. He wanted to rent a car, but the dealer wouldn't accept his international license. I showed them my Thai license and no problem. I rented the car and drove it around the corner. Then I moved over and let him drive. Only time I've heard of any problem with an international license here.


p.s. I know any number of expats here who just use an international license. They don't bother with the hassle of getting a Thai license. Never heard of any of them having problems.

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There are plans on the books for Thailand to start (maybe they already have?) a system of points for driving infractions (speeding,



I have seen the speeding cameras on some of the bridges, up and working. Now if the system will also send out the speeding tickets, that I do not know.


I do know that there is a speeding camera up and working on the highway, Bangkok <> Pattaya and they are sending out tickets.


There is a loop hole (TIT), that if you are driving a company vehicle, the points do not go on your record, at least as of the present.


I told my company here, they just bought my pickup!


Thus, I have always used my international license, paid the fines and as far as I know, there are no points on my record as

there is no correlation between my Thai and International DL...I hope :dunno:

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