What kind of driving license do I need to drive in Thailand?

Can I just carry my national driving permit?

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.

Do I need to get an international driving license?

An international driving permit (IDP) can be obtained in your home country. Basically, it is a translation in English of your original driving license, so if your national driving license is not in English, it can save some hassle with the police if you can produce an IDP.

Be careful of the period of validity of your IDP, as it can be as short as three months, no longer than three years in any case, and no longer than the period of validity of your national permit. Besides, to be valid, the IDP must be carried together with the national permit.

In any case, to determine if you need an IDP or not, you should also read in details what any contract says, for instance your travel insurance or any vehicle rental agreements.

Who needs a Thai driving license?

People who are residents in Thailand (on a non-immigrant visa) are required to obtain a Thai driving license in order to legally drive a car or a motorbike.

Further reading: How to obtain a Thai driving license?

23 Comments on “What kind of driving license do I need to drive in Thailand?”

  1. should you drive on thai roads as a tourist you need an international driving license .. ONLY the 9 asian countries are exempt from this ..The comment in paragraph 1 that you only need your driving permit from your own country is total nonsence [highway police volunteer

  2. Alf Haupt is correct, you need an international one, as Thailand does not have treaties with any country except the ASEAN ones.

    Also an international one is only valid for 6 months in a row in thailand, no matter if the actual document has 3 years on it, you cannot drive more than 6 months in a row on it, if longer you need to get a local license!

  3. The IDP’s issued for three years are from the 1968 agreement. Neither Thailand or any of the English speaking countries ratified the 1968 agreement.

    IDP’s that are valid in Thailand are the ones issued IAW the 1949 agreement which are issued for only one year.

    “he must carry documents specified by the treaty..” makes it pretty clear that the IDP is required unless, as already mentioned, the home country license is accepted by a different agreement such as the ASEAN agreement

  4. Finally a website giving the correct information, and what happens? Some people find it necessary to give incorrect information here.

    Driving in thailand dot com is correct.

    Not about the video on the homepage though. It states ‘young girl driving motorbike in Thailand, but the video is clearly not Thai.

  5. Dear sir,
    I would like to visit Thailand and rent a car for the trip. I have a international driver licence from Hong Kong with the type of private car and light goods vehicle. Could I rent the car with 10 seats in Thailand?

    Thanks & regards,
    Chris Leung

  6. I want to.drive a.motorbike in Thailand pattaya and I have the international license of driving car and bike is.this.enough im.coming as a tourist for 10 days

  7. im married to a thai with 2 children 1 age 16 1 age 9 can i apply for a marriage visa but i live in the uk ang go to thailand 4 times a year could u advise me on the visa that would be better for me i have marriage cartificate and birth certificates for my children thank you my tel 07455331608

  8. YOU CAN NOT DRIVE IN PATTAYA THAILAND WITH YOUR INDIAN LICENCE. POLICE WILL TAKE 400 BAHT AS PENALTY. ONLY INTERNATIONAL DRIVING LICENCE IS VALID IN PATTAYA NOW. I MYSELF FACED IT LAST MONTH N NEED TO PAY 400 BAHT IN POLICE STATION.
    KINDLY DONT DRIVE WITH INDIAN LICENCE IN PATTAYA

      1. @Kalyan, did you make this trip ? did you rent a car ? How was your experience ? Pls share. I plan to go next month, May 27th.

        regards

  9. Planning to go in May – 28-2nd June to Pattaya.

    Did you hire the car and drive ? How was you experience ? Please share.

  10. I was recently fined 400baht, stopped by police, using a valid New Zealand driving licence, driving rented car ,for 3 days.
    My driving licence was written totally in English language, as its out main language here in New Zealand.

    I was told before my departure fron NZ that no IDP was required, as it only applied to non English written driving licences.

    Michael

    1. Michael, you have encountered the rabble that masquerades as a police force. The legal position is that you do not require an IDP, you merely have to have your NZ licence. You were the subject of a shakedown, either due to corruption or ignorance.

  11. I have rented a car from international agencies (Budget) and local (Thai rental cars) and the only thing I showed was my US drivers license and there was no problem. Perhaps an international permit is preferred and could avoid some drama but it is NOT required.

  12. HELLO EVERYBODY….ITS NOT STILL CLEAR. I HAVE MY INDIAN DRIVING CARD LICENSE IN ENGLISH AND PLANING TO DRIVE FROM BANGKOK TO HUA HIN AND BACK. MY RENTAL CAR COMPANY STATED THEY ARE OK WITH INDIAN LICENSE AS ITS IN ENGLISH
    PLEASE UPDATE IF I REQUIRE IDP …THANKS

  13. I have an International Driver’s Permit obtained from a business in Chalong. They assured me that this will be valid in Thailand and that when stopped by police, I will be able to present this license as a valid form of identification and a driver’s permit. They assured me that I do not need a Thai Driver’s License to legally drive a motorbike here.

    I was stopped today by officers from the Chalong Police station who told me that my International Driver’s Permit is not recognized in Thailand, and forced me to pay money for a fine. They told me that the only valid driver’s license is one obtained in Phuket Town by a government office.

    Can you please help me? I don’t understand who is in the wrong here. I paid 6,000 Baht to the business below to obtain my IDP which the Thai police said is not recognized in Thailand. I want to know if I can legally drive with this license and if not, what I can do to get my money back from this business who provided an invalid license.

    1. Hi there, yes of course IDP are recognized, nobody can’t expect that tourists or people who rent a car from the airport should have a Thai license. But the IDP should be issued in your home country, there is no way a local business can get you an IDP here based on a foreign license.

  14. Think twice if you are planning to drive in Thailand. Thailand didn`t ratify the international treaty.
    International drivers license is not legal in Thailand. Only Thai license is legal according to Thai law. National license (UK, US,..) is not valid. Technically speaking. Thailand is a local anarchy. If you don`t kill somebody while driving there will be no thorough check. Sometimes in Pattaya police check licenses and they charge some Baht if you don`t have a Thai one. This also depends what nationality you are. Local police decide what`s legal. And that`s flexible in Thailand. They don`t want to destroy businesses so it is usually OK with them. If you make an accident and you are responsible try to negotiate with the other party. If someone is badly hurt than it will be difficult and police will look into it. They will take you to the local police station. The officer in charge decides than. The outcome will depend on your nationality, how you act and other circumstances. Some years ago in Pattaya there was a guy driving home at night! He bumped into a motorcycle at night. The motorcycle had no lights. The guy on the motorcycle was badly hurt. The neighbours called the police. And so on. He ended up in jail for not having a license. Big hassle. No license no insurance…. He had to pay everything by himself. The rental car companies are not responsible for checking your license. So better think twice.

Leave a Reply to john gallear Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *