Its one thing, when you first arrive in Thailand and need a Thai driving licence. That in itself can be a challenge. But when it comes to renewing your 5 year licence, well that might come as a bigger surprise.
For all licencing matters, including vehicle tax, the offices are adjacent to Regents School. There is ample parking and PLENTY OF SHOPS OFFERING SERVICES (remember that part, you will need it later).
Today we are looking at RENEWING AN EXISTING THAI DRIVING LICENCE, not to be confused with applying for a new one.
When you arrive, the queue will probably put you off. First thing you notice is that there are two orderly queues before the office opens at around 8.15. Once the office opens, a lady arrives on the steps and addresses us all outside in Thai and in English. At this point the queues become pointless as it all becomes a mass around her.
She then asks foreigners to queue on one side and Thais on the other. To be fair to them, this is a bonus for you, as your queue suddenly becomes a lot shorter.
As you enter, you are given a number, you sit downstairs until your number appears on the screen. There is no point in pushing and shoving, this is an orderly system. ( as one hefty German discovered after he had pushed me out of the way. I asked him why he was so rude and he asked me if I wanted to take it outside.. a real credit to his nation, or perhaps he missed the towel system so popular in Spain). The system may be slow, but it works for EVERYONE. and in most cases you get a seat to sit in too.
Once your number comes up on the screen, its upstairs to the main desk. Here a lady who speaks good English will tell you everything you have done wrong so far.
She favours doing so in stages, so as you do one thing, so she will tell you the next thing you need to do. Its annoying, but then again she is dealing with 300+ faces a day. I wouldn’t want their job.
CURRENTLY YOU NEED:
1.. old Thai licence ( with photo copy)
2… Passport (copy all pages)
a) Letter from Immigration approving your licence application
b) Work Permit AND YOUR OWN TAX ID NUMBER) ( copy all)
No medical certificate is required for renewal
( this list HAS Changed and seems to change occasionally)
REMEMBER .. we told you you can go and get copies across the road in the row of shops)
No point in arguing, you either have it all or not. Once you do, you get given a number, again, and take a seat. Plan for a long wait, the offices are all air conditioned but its going to be a long haul.
NOW, you will be herded into the training room. (Yes this a renewal), and no no one cares that you cant understand, you will sit here for a fixed time, approx 2 hours, with several videos played about road safety,,, in Thai. To be honest, very few are watching, most are on their phones or talking. So charge your battery ahead of time and take a drink. (We did ask WHY.. and were told that everyone needs re-training after 5 years)
At some point your number will be called. NOW you think, you are out of there. You aren’t. You are going to be doing the eye test. A check that you can tell the difference between Red, Yellow and Green, and that you can align two markers in a box via a remote control. ( distance testing). There is also provision for a braking reflex test in the same room. Once you pass, its back to the TV room
The same lady then explains the whole procedure. You will go up, one at a time, and collect your documents. Once you do, you then
QUEUE AGAIN.. to pay and get… Another Number
This time its for the photo shoot. Comb your hair, and prepare. Its over in a second
Ten minutes later.. you are outside with the new licence(s)
Approx time from start to finish…4 hours
For bike and car licenses you need double copies of all documents
Cost for both, just under 1100 baht.