Anyone holding a valid Thai driving licence can now use it in nine other countries without the need to obtain an international permit. These countries are Mynamar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines which, together with Thailand, make up the 10 country ASEAN economic grouping.
Citizens of these countries, together with foreign nationals holding a driving permit issued by any member state, are now able to drive in all member countries for as long as the licence is valid. Thailand issues separate licences to drive cars and motorbikes so Thais and foreigners need to have the appropriate permit for the category of vehicle they intend to drive abroad. For those who prefer, international licences can still be used for driving in Thailand and throughout ASEAN.
Kosin Weeranthanaphan, new head of the Banglamung transportation authority which is situated behind the International School of the Regents, said, “Both foreigners and Thais can take advantage of this move by the ASEAN countries to simplify day-to-day procedures. From 2015 China, South Korea and Japan will be added to the list of countries where a driver’s licence issued in an ASEAN country can be used.”
The transportation head also reminded foreign applicants of the documents needed to obtain a Thai driving licence – original passport and valid visa + photocopy, two photographs, a recent certificate of residence issued by the Immigration Bureau and a doctor’s certificate not more than one month old. Applicants also receive information on current traffic regulations in Thailand and take a competency examination currently available in Thai, English, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. Successful candidates receive their driving licence(s) on the day of application.
Kosin warned foreigners not to believe agents who claim to be able to obtain Thai driving licences without the applicant showing up. “All driving licences are issued only to the applicant in person who pays the appropriate fees at the transportation office’s service counter”. He added that the use of driving licences beyond national borders was one example of the 10 ASEAN countries preparing to open a free-trade area and implementing policies to remove tariffs from December 31, 2015.