2021 UPDATE – Unfortunately it is now much harder to get a driving license in Trat.
The reason is that the immigration office will no longer issue the letter of residence that is required. They refer people to the local government ‘amphur’ office in Dan Mai, Koh Chang. They will provide one, but the catch is that applicants must have a yellow house registration book. This is a house registration document that foreign home owners can get. Foreigners can’t own land in Thailand, but can own a building. However, if you are renting, or living in a property with Thai ownership – then you are out of luck.
In this case, the easiest way to get a Thai driving license is to get it in Pattaya. There are numerous agents that make doing it a simple process. It will cost a bit more than obtaining one in Trat, but at present it is the only option for many people.
2022 UPDATE – It’s now possible to get a residence certificate, which is required to get a driver’s license, at Laem Ngop immigration. However, it now takes 2 or 3 days for some reason. So, assuming they don’t revert to the old system, obtaining a Thai driver’s license in Trat will be possible again.
Original post from 2012 . . .
There is a caveat regarding hw easy it is to get a license. This only applies if the writing on your current overseas license is in English. As it’s assumed by the authorities in Trat that anyone from England / US / Canada – not the French bit / Oz / New Zealand etc is a far better driver than ‘the continentals’ .
I don’t really bother with boring / practical posts about how to do stuff in Thailand because if you are living here as there are already dozens of sites with this info on them already and no doubt a bloke in a bar will also weigh in with some expert knowledge too. However, when it comes to getting a Thai driving license then Trat seems to be different from elsewhere in the country. So here’s something that may be of use.
A decade or so ago I had a Thai license, bought and paid for over the counter at a licensing place in Banpong ( Town motto ‘ City of Nice People’ – yes, really), east of Bangkok. That was in the good old days when nothing was computerised and for 500 Baht you could have a license to drive a 36 tonne HGV in 30 minutes without ever having climbed inside the cab of one.
A few years ago I lost it and since then have relied on a my trusty 1986 UK licence, a flimsy piece of pink paper, with no photo ID on it which is now held together with tape. It used to keep traffic cops busy trying to figure out just what the hell it was. I also had a newer plastic UK license, with photo ID which I kept in reserve and never bothered showing the police as the old pink one plus a couple of 100 Baht banknotes always did the trick when I got pulled over.
However, it was always at the back of my mind to get a new license. Unfortunately, the good officials of Banpong didn’t feel obliged to replace it unless I took a full day of of tests in order to prove that after about 13 years driving a car in Thailand that I could drive to strict Thai standards. And I wasn’t prepared to lower my standards. :-)
Times have changed, there are now obligatory classroom lessons, computerised multiple choice tests and the old printed colour blind test – red and green dots – “What number can you see?” has been replaced with a variety of electronic eyesight tests. Most using the machine pictured at the top of this page – the bastard son of a photocopier and a retarded Transformer. Everything you see written about getting a Thai license now says that you will have to do all these tests in addition to the practical driving test. This takes a day out of your life. A day that could be spent doing something infinitely more interesting than learning about road safety.
So, onto the good news. The nice people at the Trat licensing centre only require expats with English language driving licenses to hand over a few documents and take the eyesight tests and you are out of there in under 45 minutes with your shiny, new Thai license. (However, If you have a foreign language license then you’ll have to spend a full day being tested whether you like it or not.)
Documents you need:
1 – Confirmation of Address. Get this from the Immigration Dept in Laem Ngop. The fee is 500 Baht. ( You could also get it from your embassy in Bangkok but it would cost a lot more.) Make a copy of it. ** Important – see the note at the top of this page. **
2 – Passport with Non Immigrant Visa. (Can’t be a Tourist Visa) Make copies of main passport page & page your visa is on.
3 – A valid driving license in English language. Make a copy of the front & back of it.
4 – Health certificate. 100 Baht. A standard form any doctor will produce for you saying you don’t have Elephantiasis or are a druggie etc. I got mine from the clinic opposite the entrance to the Emerald Cove Resort. Took 2 minutes. Make a copy of it.
No passport photos are required.
With all the above in hand, go along to the Trat vehicle licensing office about 10am on a weekday. The reason being, people who are taking the classroom courses etc will all be in class by then and so the staff have more time. Go into the building and up the stairs on the left to get to the licensing office. Note the signs on the wall banning anyone wearing shorts, tank tops or miniskirts from taking a driving test. So make an effort and dress a bit smarter than normal. (I wore my best town shorts and smartest sandals coupled with real, not fake, Ralph Lauren t-shirt. Pretty damn stylish if I say so myself.)
You just have to tell them what you want to do, hand over documents, wait a while. Do the eyesight tests. These include colour blind test where you shout out the colours that you see ( * Amber is amber in Thailand too, don’t say Yellow ) , a depth of vision test, a peripheral sight test and a fun reaction test which measures how fast you can hit the brakes when you see a red light.
You’ll then get your photo taken and a machine produces a shiny new plastic temporary Thai driving license with a picture of the silhouette of Koh Chang on it plus the mainland naval memorial and some warships. This license is valid for a year. The following year you go back and then are automatically given a 5 year license.
Total cost is 205 Baht and you get a computerised receipt.
Location: Heading into Trat from Laem Ngop, take the right turn after the Shell station, follow this about 1Km , straight past the junction with turn off to the left and the licensing office is on the left.
A couple of photos. Don’t think you’re supposed to be taking them inside the building so just snapped a couple with my phone.
How to Renew Your Thai Driving License in Trat
Information correct as of September 2022.
This is to renew your Thai driver license or if you are buying or selling a motorbike or vehicle. And note that you’ll need to have some type of Non Immigrant visa – Retirement / Work / Education etc – as it isn’t possible to do with a Touyrist Visa.
The first step is to get a Residence Certificate – which just states where you live. Get this from Laem Ngop Immigration office: (Trat). This can take 3 days to make.
You need to bring to Immigration:
1) Copy of your passport main page
2) Copy of the visa stamp page in your passport
3) TM 30 (90 day report) from immigration – this is usually stapled inside your passport. Or if you did an online 90 day report, print it out.
4) Copy of your driver license (front and back)
5) Rental contract – assuming you don’t own a property in your name
6) Copy of the ‘tabian baan’ house book from the owner (including the signature and phone number of the owner)
7) Copy of the owner’s ID card (with signature and phone number of the owner)
8) Your original driver license
9) Your passport
Once you have your Residence Certificate, the next step is to get your driver’s license. It is now easier to use the quiet Land Transport office at Khao Saming on the mainland, rather than the larger one near Trat. It is located here: https://goo.gl/maps/LtWwiAxHFj4BuGmTA
You’ll need to take :
1. Health certificate (Get from any clinic for around 200 – 300 Baht )
2. Residence certificate
3. Your original driver license
4. Your passport. The passport number on your driver license must be the same as your passport. If you have renewed your passport you’ll need to bring your old one too.
5. Copy passport and visa page (if you need to bring your old passport, copy that too)