Foreign driving licences in Thailand


Dear Editor;

In response to Carl White’s views on driving licence in Thailand, UK and many other countries’ driving licences have been legal since 1949. To make it easy for the bar room lawyers, it means a UK or foreign licence or an IDP is valid only on a Tourist Visa. If one comes to Thailand on a Non Im O visa, B visa or an ED visa, a Thai licence is required.

Copied from Thai law: To drive or lease a car in Thailand as a tourist or visitor it is necessary to have either a Thai driving licence or a valid foreign driving licence with a photograph. The foreign licence must either be in English, or be accompanied by an official translation into English or Thai. The licence needs to have been issued by a country that has a treaty with the Thai government allowing the mutual acceptance of driving licences. Most countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA have this agreement with Thailand under the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic or the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Those in doubt should contact their embassy for advice. 06 Jul 2012 motor vehicle act; Motor Vehicle Act – B.E. 2522.

If you are not a resident (i.e. you are on a tourist visa or exemption of visa), you only need your national driving permit to be able to drive in Thailand. So, if you are visiting Thailand as a tourist and you want to rent a car for just a few days, you just need to carry the driving permit you obtained in your home country. This is clearly indicated in the Motor Vehicle Act: Section 42-2.

In case there’s a treaty between the Thai government and a foreign government regarding mutual acceptance of driver’s license, an alien who doesn’t have an immigrant visa may drive a motor vehicle with a driver’s license issued by such a foreign government, or an automobile association authorized by such a foreign government.

I hope this stops any misinformation being passed on.


Pilford De Chips