Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

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Gaybutton
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Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Gaybutton »

The best I can say for the last 3 days is lousy. After 5 years it was time to renew my Thai driving license. The procedures are the same for renewing both the car license and the motorbike license. A first time license involves more tests at the Land Transport Office, but the basic procedures are identical.

There is good news and bad news.

The Bad News

1. You may be reading on various web sites that for renewing a Thai driving license you don't need the medical certificate. WRONG! Yes you do need it. The Land Transport Office was turning away farang who didn't have it. You can get it at virtually any street clinic or hospital. I got mine at a street clinic right down the street from me. Believe me, if you are moving and breathing you won't have any problem getting it. And if you do have a problem, just go to another clinic. The clinic I went to charged 150 baht for it.

2. Now you need a residence certificate. You have to go to immigration to get it. The fee is 300 baht. Don't bother downloading the application form that is available online. I downloaded it, dutifully filled it out, only to be told at immigration that form is no longer used. They gave me a much simpler for to fill out - so don't forget to bring a pen with you. Make sure you have your passport with you and proof of where you live. That can be as simple as mail or a bill addressed to you. If you receive your bills online, print out one that shows your name and address and take it with you. You need the same copies of passport information that you need when extending your retirement visa - main passport page, original visa page, current visa page, and copy of your departure card. All copies need to be signed, which you can do in advance. You will be asked if this for a driving license for a car, motorbike, or both.

After getting approval for the residence certificate, they take your passport, give you a number card, and I was told to come back after 1 hour to collect my passport and residence certificate. That went fine, with no problems. When you go to pick up your passport and residence certificate, you don't need a queue number. Just go right to the residence certificate window and show your number card.

3. Now comes the nightmare part. Yesterday I went to the Land Transport Office. Again you need the same copies of everything listed above, plus if you are renewing the license you also need a copy of your current license, front and back. You will also need your passport and actual current driving license, whether it has expired or not. They are going to take it. Don't forget to take the medical certificate and residence certificate.

They open at 8:00am. I wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible, so I arrived at 6:45am. It's a good thing I did. I had heard rumors that they will take only 20 farang per day. That turns out to be true. 20 per day. That's all. If you are the 21st farang they will tell you to try again tomorrow.

They have chairs set up outside. Just take a seat and wait until about 7:45am. I suggest at that point go and wait at the building entrance to make sure you are among the first to get in. Once they open the doors, you'll pass through a contraption that sprays a fine mist on you - supposedly to prevent Covid. Then they'll check your temperature and give you hand lotion. Once inside the building, look toward the right. You will see a machine that issues queue numbers to foreigners. Try to get a low number. My number was 6 and it was still over 20 minutes before my number was called.

Once they call your number, go upstairs where you will be stopped at a desk where they check your documents.

Here comes the nightmare: Once your documents are in order they will have you scan a QR code with your smartphone. If you don't have a smartphone, you're not going to get the license because scanning the QR code installs a "training video" on your phone. It used to be that they make you sit through a video in a room upstairs. Now instead it is on your phone. You will be told to come back after watching the video.

Before the video comes on, there are 3 multiple choice test questions that any 4 year old can answer. At least the questions are in English. Once you answer those correctly the video starts. Of course, it is on your phone's screen, only the top half of the screen, so you can hardly see it. And guess what - it is entirely in Thai. Parts of it are subtitled. If you are even bothering to watch the video at all, you'll need an electron microscope to be able to see the subtitles. And naturally, the subtitles are white, often on a white background.

Don't try to get out of waiting out the video. There is no way around it. And if you do try to bypass it, the whole thing restarts and you get to go through it all over again.

Once the video finally finishes, another 3 test questions pop up, again that any 4 year old can answer. On mine, 2 of the questions were the same ones that were asked on the first set of questions.

Ok, I sat outside for an hour waiting for the video to finish. Once it's over and you manage to actually answer the 3 questions correctly, now a screen pops up showing that you have successfully completed the video and passed.

I went back upstairs to show that I had passed, expecting to be able to complete the procedures for getting the license. WRONG! I was told I have to take that screen to a copy shop, have them print out the screen on paper, sign it, and return to the Land Transport Office the next day.

WHAT!?!?!? That's right. I had to leave, go to a copy shop, get the screen printed on paper, and wait for the next day. I didn't even have to sit there at the Land Transport Office waiting for the video to complete. I could have taken it home, turned it on at my leisure, found something else to do for an hour, and go to a local copy shop later.

It would have been nice if they had told me that. As I said, I had arrived at the Land Transport Office at 6:45am and didn't get back home until 11:30am. That took care of yesterday.

4. Next day 6:45 am, back at the Land Transport Office. Getting there that early was the right thing to do. As I said, they take only 20 farang per day and by the time they opened the doors at 8:00am it looked like many more than 20. This time my queue number was 2, so I managed to get upstairs quickly this time. Now they accepted my documents and gave me a ticket number. My number was 1. They said to come back at 9:00am. Another hour waiting downstairs.

At 9:00am I went back upstairs. The room was filled with Thais and farang waiting their turn. They were taking care of the Thais first. Once the Thais were in line, waiting to pay the fee and get their licenses, now they took the 20 farang to an area many of you have probably seen before - where they test you for color blindness, depth perception, and reaction time. Just those three tests. I recall more than that from previous years.

The first test looks like a traffic light. They flash three colors, one at a time, yellow, green, and red. You simply call out the colors you see. Ok, everybody easily passed that one. The next test was the depth perception test. You look into a box that contains two vertical sticks, about the size of soda straws. One is behind the other. You press a button and the behind stick starts moving forward. When the two sticks are parallel, you press a button to stop them. Everybody easily passed that one too. Last test was the reaction time test. You press your foot on a makeshift accelerator. You're looking at another box. When a red light comes on, you hit the brake pedal as quickly as you can. There is a panel of lights. As long as you hit the brake pedal quickly enough, the lights will be green. If you're not quick enough, the lights will be red. Again, we all easily passed that test.

End of the tests. Now all there was left to do was to pay the fee - 505 baht, get your photo taken, and wait a little less than 5 minutes. Now they give you your new driving license and you're finally done.


The Good News

Other than showing up to get the photo and your new license, you don't have to do or go through any of the above. I wish I knew this before. Living here as long as I have, I should have known, but I had no idea. There are several agencies that do all the hassle work for you - for a fee. They do everything.

I am going to suggest using Mots Services. Their representative was there both days and she was very helpful explaining anything anyone did not understand, whether you used her service or not. She was very good. If I had known I would have used their service. I talked to one farang who did use their service and he's the one who told me all he had to do was show up for the photo and license. Mots Services did everything else.

Their fee is 3000 baht. If you wish, they even have door to door service from where you live to and from the Land Transport Office. If I am still around 5 years from now when it's time for renewing the license again, I hope Mots Services is still in business. I will definitely use them. Obviously they are reputable and they have many more services besides getting you a driving license. I suggest you look at their web site and Facebook page.

https://www.mots-services.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KhaoTaloChonburi/

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Gaybutton »

I forgot one thing - the dress code. It is best to wear long pants, but shorts are acceptable if they extend below the knee. Above the knee they might ask you to leave.

Needless to say, you must wear a face mask.

Also, it is best to wear a decent shirt. Do not try to show up in a tank top or anything similar. If you do, out you go.


"If you do you will be shot!"
Lotte Lenya (Rosa Klebb), 'From Russia with Love'

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Trongpai »

I have renewed my Thai driving license five times here in Bangkok and no two had the same procedures. Bangkok has several Land Office location and I understand that the procedures are not all exactly the same in each respective office. The process has been increasing encumbered and complicated with each ensuing renewal. The first time it was a breeze. Now it's complicated beyond reason.

I suspect (speculation) that the smart phone movie/copy shop procedure and limiting to 20 farangs per day is a response to COVID 19 restrictions.

The residency certificate here in Bangkok was not done like Pattaya but rather via your home embassy. Now, with the US and UK embassy not wanting to do anything in the way of "services" I don't know how one would go about getting a residency certificate in Bangkok. Perhaps someone here can advise?

I don't know why but I was given a 10 year drivers license on my last renewal, 4 years ago. I noticed it right away but did not ask. I don't know if it was a mistake or perhaps after the third renewal you get a 10 year validity? The first was 1 year and three after 5 years.

The link to the assist agency I guess is Pattaya specific. I've heard from Bangkok residents of using similar agents for Immigration but it's officially discouraged. From time to time I have noticed signs, "No Agents" at the Bangkok Immigration Office, section L. I have observed what appear to be agents outside the office in the common lobby. Agents are allowed for 90 day reports and have their own service window.

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Gaybutton »

Trongpai wrote:
Sat Jun 19, 2021 2:46 pm
I have renewed my Thai driving license five times here in Bangkok and no two had the same procedures.
That certainly comes as no surprise to me. I don't know how you got a 10 year license. I didn't even know they offer such a thing. Mine is 5 years. Maybe the next one will be 10 year validity. I wish they would do that for the retirement visa . . .

As for the residence certificate, in Pattaya you get it at immigration and the procedure is quite simple. Can't you get it at immigration in Bangkok? Maybe they frown on use of agents, but if all they do is frown on it, I'd use one, hopefully a reputable one, as long as no laws are being broken. I'd say that's much better than going through the hassles.

You might be right about why in Pattaya they limit to 20 farang per day, but to me that doesn't make sense considering there is no limit on how many Thais they take each day.

I gave up a long time ago trying to make sense out of the way so much is done in Thailand. I'd like to know how it makes any sense to force farang to watch a "training" film entirely in Thai and on a screen so tiny you're lucky you can see it at all - that is if you're even going to bother to try to watch it. My guess is the total number of people who actually watch it all the way through, Thai and farang, is zero. As a matter of fact, I don't see how it makes any sense to try to force a movie down our throats at all, especially if we are there for license renewal. What do they think would be in the film that we don't already know? And especially retired farang - we've probably been driving much longer than whoever came up with the idea for this movie has even been alive.

In any case, after my experience and after reading your post, I have plenty to add to my "I Don't Get It" list . . .

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Trongpai »

Yes, I can, I googled it: https://tdl-service.com/thai-residence- ... n-bangkok/ and it takes two weeks!

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Jun »

Gaybutton wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 6:19 pm
There are several agencies that do all the hassle work for you - for a fee. They do everything.
I presume that means the agencies watch the training video on your behalf ? :)

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Gaybutton »

Trongpai wrote:
Sat Jun 19, 2021 9:11 pm
it takes two weeks!
Another example of each immigration office making up their own rules. I can't imagine why it takes two weeks to get the residence certificate in Bangkok while it takes one hour in Pattaya.

Jun wrote:
Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:12 pm
I presume that means the agencies watch the training video on your behalf ? :)
The answer to that will have to come from someone who uses the service or contacts the service and asks. Since I didn't, I don't know. I'm guessing those who use the service somehow get out of having to watch the video at all, which in my opinion makes much more sense in the first place.

When I bought my current car, I sent a close Thai friend to a driving school - the one located next door to Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital. He really did not know how to drive a car and they taught him well. When he completed the course, they gave him the paperwork and when he went to the Land Transport Office to get his license, all he had to do was pay the fee - and walked away with a license for both car and motorbike. No video, no tests, no hassle.

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by ceejay »

It's an understatement - but not a surprise - to say there is no consistency. In Chiang Mai the residence certificate takes up to a month - yes, a month! unless you use an agency, in which case it is same day (guess why). If you have a yellow book that is accepted in lieu and you don't need the residence cert. at all.

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by Gaybutton »

ceejay wrote:
Sun Jun 20, 2021 9:58 pm
In Chiang Mai the residence certificate takes up to a month - yes, a month!
Chiang Mai a month - but with an agency same day. Bangkok 2 weeks. Pattaya 1 hour. I'm not even going to try to figure out that one other than the obvious - money. I wonder how much and into the pockets of whose brother-in-law it goes . . .

Corrupt or not, next time I am going to use an agency. When you read what I went through, it probably doesn't sound like much, but believe me it is frustration and torture. I'd much rather pay the 3000 baht, or whatever their fee is, than have to go through it again.

I posted my story with as much detail as I could. If any of you do use an agency, please post and include all your details. It is certainly helpful to have a good idea of just what to expect.

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Re: Thai driving license - the latest - good news and nightmare news

Post by 2lz2p »

Gaybutton wrote:
Sun Jun 20, 2021 11:44 pm
ceejay wrote:
Sun Jun 20, 2021 9:58 pm
In Chiang Mai the residence certificate takes up to a month - yes, a month!
Chiang Mai a month - but with an agency same day. Bangkok 2 weeks. Pattaya 1 hour. I'm not even going to try to figure out that one other than the obvious - money. I wonder how much and into the pockets of whose brother-in-law it goes . . .

Corrupt or not, next time I am going to use an agency. When you read what I went through, it probably doesn't sound like much, but believe me it is frustration and torture. I'd much rather pay the 3000 baht, or whatever their fee is, than have to go through it again.

I posted my story with as much detail as I could. If any of you do use an agency, please post and include all your details. It is certainly helpful to have a good idea of just what to expect.
GB, your post was most appreciated as my 5 year licenses expires in early September, so I am planning on renewing in August. I was not looking forward to the hassle - in my case it is mostly related to the difficulty I now have in standing for any lengthy period and having to climb up stairs.

So, your providing information on the agent that can provide assistance was much appreciated as I will probably give them a try - well worth the 3,000 baht to avoid the hassle and having to make multiple trips and climbing those stairs.

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