Paul has been living and driving in Thailand since 2003. He has had a Thailand driver's license since 2008 and has renewed it twice
Renewing a Thailand Driver's License
For foreign residents, renewing a Thai driver's license in Thailand is a straightforward procedure. Unlike taking written and driving tests to apply for and secure a license, renewing a Thai license only involves preparing a few necessary documents, passing a few tests, and sitting through a one-hour training course.
In this article, you will learn where and when to renew your Thai driver's license. You will also understand what documents to present to the renewing official. Finally, based on my previous experience, you will find out what to expect from the time you enter the Land Transport Office until you leave with your license renewal.
Where to Renew a License
Foreign residents can renew their Thai driver's license at a Land Transport Office near the area where they live. The head Land Transport Office is located in Bangkok near the Chatuchak Weekend Market. There are also a few other Land Transport Offices covering all of the districts in the Bangkok area. When I lived in the Bangna area of Bangkok, I visited the Land Transport Office opposite Soi Sukhumvit 62/1 near the Bangjak BTS stop.
You will also find Land Transport Offices in most of the popular tourist areas such as Pattaya, Hua Hin/Cha-Am, Phuket, Samui, and Chiang Mai.
As a present resident of Udonthani City, I recently renewed my Thailand driver's license at the AekUdon International Hospital branch of the Land Transport Office on Posri Road.
When to Renew a License
Most licenses expire five years after they have been issued on the date of your birthday. You can renew your Thai license up to three months before the expiration of your current one. If your license has expired by more than one year, you must retake the written theory test and achieve a score of at least 90.
Most Land Transport Offices are open Monday-Saturday. The Aek Udon International Hospital Land Transport Office branch is open 1000-1800 Monday-Saturday. It is best to arrive no later than 1000 because the first training video starts at 1030.
What Documents to Prepare for License Renewal
When you are ready to renew your Thai driver's license, there are three important documents you must bring with you to the Land Transport Office. They include your passport, certificate of residence address, and current Thai driver's license.
In addition to presenting your passport for review, you must make a copy of the bio page which shows your picture, passport number, and passport expiration date. The page of the passport showing your current visa stamps should also be copied.
Your original present resident address in Thailand must also be presented. This can be in the form of a Work Permit that has your present address. If you don't have a Work Permit, your present address must be certified by your embassy or the Immigration Bureau. This can be avoided if you can present an alien household residency certificate which is a yellow book titled "tabianbaan" in Thai. A copy of the original of any of the needed residency documents is also necessary.
A medical certificate is required when renewing from a two-year to a five-year license. If renewing a five-year license, a medical certificate is now needed.
Finally, you must present and turn in your current Thai driver's license. It is not necessary to make a copy of the license.
How to Renew Your License on the Date You Report to the Land Transport Office
I strongly advise arriving early at the Land Transport Office on the date you decide to renew your license. Remember that most of the Land Transport Offices open at 1000. I mistakenly thought that the Udonthani Land Transport Office opened at 1030. Consequently, I could not sit in on the first video training from 1030-1130. If I had arrived a few minutes before 1000, I would have had time to present all of my documents and get scheduled for the 1030 training.
After you arrive at the Land Transport Office, get in line at the license renewal counter to present your required documents for inspection. Remember that a copy of your passport pages and residency certificate will be asked for.
Next, you will be given a number and directed to a small room where your color vision and reaction response will be tested. For the color vision test, an examiner held up green and red color cards and I had to identify them. During the reaction response test, I sat on a chair with an accelerator and brake pedal in front of me. With my foot on the accelerator, I had to move it to the brake when I saw a red light.
Following the tests, I was told to report for a video training session at 1300. Having killed about two hours at the Land Transport Office, I was the first person to enter the video training room at 1300. After the small room with seating for about 30 persons had been filled by 1320, A traffic safety training video in Thai started playing. The video showed different driving conditions on roads and how to avoid accidents. It was emphasized not to speed and not to drive while intoxicated. The footage also stressed how to yield and make turns at different intersections. There was no discussion or test following the video. This is probably why some people were sleeping or playing on their smartphones during the video training.
The video training session ended at 1430. Next, I waited in the main lobby to pay my license renewal fee. It was 555 Thai baht ($18) for a five-year driver's license which will expire on my birthday August 11 in 2024.
After a short five-minute wait, I paid for my license and was directed to wait to have a picture taken for my license. Following another short wait, I had my new license and was ready to leave the Land Transport Office.
Renewing a Thai driver's license is easy and painless. Just remember to arrive early and have all the documents needed for renewal.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Paul Richard Kuehn