International Driving Permit Thailand

What is an International Driving Permit or License?

What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving License (IDL)?

An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.

On the other hand, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.

How does an IDP work in Thailand?

You are required by law to have an International Driving Permit to drive in Thailand if you intend to use a foreign driver’s license. An IDP is valid for 12 months from when it is issued, and your driving license should remain valid. You may also use your IDP as an identification document while traveling. If your driver’s license is in a foreign language, an IDP can be used as a translation of your license.

How do you apply for an IDP in Thailand?

You can apply for an International Driving Permit through our website. 

How long will it take to get an IDP in Thailand?

A digital IDP takes up to 2 hours to land in your inbox. Alternatively, if you want a faster processing time, you can choose an Express Order, in which you will receive your IDP in 20 minutes. 

A printed IDP can be delivered to your doorstep, with the estimated delivery date varying between 2-30 days, depending on the selected delivery method. 

Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Thailand

Functionality as an ID

In some countries, keeping your passport and other essential documents under lock and key may be wise. You may use your International Driving Permit as an official identification document in this case. You may also use an IDP to replace your national identity card for identification when your ID card is not in English or another commonly recognized language.

Quicker traffic authority stops.

In some countries, an International Driving Permit is not a requirement for driving on their roads. However, law enforcement authorities in that country may still find it challenging to decipher the driver’s license information. An IDP will make traffic stops shorter and less frustrating on your trip, and this is especially useful in a motor accident or other emergency.

Car rental companies

The United Nations recognizes and recommends using an International Driving Permit when traveling. Even if an IDP is not required in the country you are traveling to; it may be needed when renting a vehicle from a car rental agency. It will also come in handy when the car rental company tries to glean your particulars from your driving license.

Laws requiring an IDP

As Thailand is contracted to the Vienna Motor Traffic Convention in 1968 and the Geneva Motor Traffic Convention in 1949, your IDP will be valid for one year after being issued. Having said that, you are only allowed to rent vehicles for 60 days with a tourist visa and 90 days with a non-immigrant ‘O’ visa, irrespective of the validity of your IDP.

Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Thailand

Short-term visitors vs. residents

If you are on a visa, you may only be able to rent a car for 60 days after arrival, irrespective of whether you renew your tourist visa. The same concept applies to non-immigration ‘O’ visas, as you can only rent a vehicle for 90 days from arrival.

It is recommended that you convert your status to a resident if you are planning on staying in Thailand mid to long-term, which will enable you to get a Thai national license. Most Thai policies aim to make foreigners get residency rather than renew other types of visas, unlike in many other countries, where you can change your visa type and get residency without leaving the country.

How long can I drive with a foreign license?

You can only drive in Thailand for 12 months with a foreign license. The International Driving Permit is also valid for 12 months. You cannot rent a vehicle for more than 90 days unless you have a Thai driving license. This rule applies irrespective of how long your IDP is valid.

When should I get a Thai Driver’s Licence?

If you stay in the country for more than 90 days, you will not be able to use your foreign license to rent a vehicle there. Suppose you stay in Thailand for over three months; you should get a driver’s license before the 90-day period runs out. The license conversion procedure is painless, and you will not be required to take a practical driving test if you are from a country not contracted to a motor traffic convention and don’t plan on living in Thailand. You might be better off using public transportation or taxis for the time you stay there above the 90-day limit.

How to get a Thai driver’s license

If the country your driver’s license is issued from is contracted to the Vienna or Geneva Motor Traffic Conventions, you can get your license converted to a Thai one. You can do so at any branch of the Department of Land Transport. You should note that the different Thai provinces have different documentation requirements. Call and confirm what documents you need before reaching the office to save time.

In most provinces, you should have the following to get your license converted:

  • The filled submission form relating to the conversion of a foreign license

  • Having a passport with a non-immigrant visa (it should not be a tourist visa)

  • A work permit or a certificate of residence issued by the Thai Immigration Bureau (Some provinces will allow you to provide a letter of residence from the appropriate embassy. Letters should be less than 30 days old)

  • Medical certificate from a hospital or clinic less than 30 days old

  • Two passport-sized color photographs not more than six months old (Some branches will take photos for the purpose, and you don’t need to take any)

  • A valid International Driving Permit

  • The fee is payable to the Thai government for processing

You must take an eyesight and reaction speed test before being issued a 1-year Thai license. If you do not have a foreign unexpired driver’s license or if your license was issued by a country not connected by the Geneva or Vienna motor traffic conventions, you must use the standard procedure for getting a Thai driving license. When using this procedure, you must take some driving courses and tests before being issued a license.

Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s Licence While in Thailand

Renewing your International Driver’s Permit

You can renew your IDP simply through our website.

Renewing your original driver’s license

You may be required to renew your driver’s license while traveling abroad. As you may be aware, renewing a driving license differs from country to country, and you may be required to take medical and vision tests. This means you must return to the country where your license was issued. However, most countries will have an online service that helps expatriates renew their licenses. You are not allowed to drive in a foreign country with an International Driving Permit unless you also have a valid foreign driving license.

Car Rental in Thailand

Requirements for car rental

You can only rent a car in Thailand if you are above 21, though some companies will refuse to rent to clients below 23. You should also have held a driving license for more than a year. You can only rent a vehicle from a car rental agency for 60 days after arrival on a tourist visa and 90 days after coming on a non-immigrant ‘O’ visa. While many car rental companies will allow you to rent a car with just a foreign driving license, the law states that you must have a valid International Driving Permit. Additionally, insurance companies will refuse to pay you if you get into an accident while holding a foreign license without an IDP. Almost all car rental agencies will require that you have a working credit card that will not expire for the rental duration.

Deposit and costs for car rental

Car rentals can cost quite a bit in Thailand, ranging from $30 daily for a small sedan to $300 for a luxury vehicle. If you plan on renting an average Japanese sedan, you can expect to pay $50 daily, whereas a week’s rental will be around $350. You can expect to pay upwards of $500 for a medium sedan, with the luxury tiers requiring a deposit of upwards of $3,000. If you use a credit card, this amount will be blocked off for the duration of your rental.

Car insurance

Like most other countries, you must have at least third-party insurance called Por Ror Bor to drive on Thai roads. This insurance covers damage to persons, property, or animals other than yourself and the vehicle you are driving. There are limits to the amount covered under this basic insurance. You are recommended to get theft coverage and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) as some parts of the country has hectic driving that can cause accidents for drivers that are not fully acclimatized. Please note that some insurance covers expire within three months if you drive in Thailand with a foreign driving license and an IDP. Check with the insurance provider or car rental company to change this clause, or go for an insurance company that doesn’t have this limitation.

Travel insurance

The crime rate in Thailand is moderate when compared to other developing countries. It would still be a reasonable precaution to get travel and car insurance. Some points to look out for when getting your travel insurance are:

  • Hospital stays that have an unlimited cover

  • Cancellation fees and lost deposits should be covered if you have multiple stops on your trip

  • Damage or lost baggage costs

  • All excess payments in case your rental car gets into an accident should be covered

  • Emergency dental procedures should be covered

  • Expenses incurred due to a funeral

Driving and Safety in Thailand

Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?

Unfortunately, the Thai authorities have not provided a downloadable online English handbook (Highway Code). That is not much of an issue as you will be provided with a handbook from the Department of Land Transport on inquiry, and you can easily find numerous publications in Thai bookstores. Make a note to ensure that The Highway Code you purchase from a bookstore is up-to-date. You will receive an up-to-date version of the driver’s handbook when you enroll in a Thai driving school. If you are a novice driver, it is recommended that you take a short driving course before driving in Thailand.

Overtaking on Thai roads

You are advised to only overtake from the right-hand side as long as there have been no signs signifying otherwise. You must check your mirrors, judge the speed correctly and make sure that the lane ahead is sufficiently clear for you to enter back into its traffic. You cannot cut in on the vehicle that you are overtaking. Overtaking during nighttime or with poor visibility should be undertaken with extra vigilance.

Turning and right of way on Thai roads

Drivers of the main road have priority over a lane coming into the main road. On equal roads, vehicles going straight or turning left have the right of way, which means that drivers turning right have to wait until there’s a gap in traffic to do so.

It would be best if you slowed down before junctions that don’t have signs or traffic lights. In Thailand, you must go slow enough to stop at a junction if you have to give way to a motorist coming on the other road.

If you are entering a roundabout, you have to give way to vehicles already in the roundabout. It would be best if you also pay attention to the speed at which the traffic is moving and the signal lights used by the vehicles in the roundabout when entering one.

Speed limits on Thai roads

When driving a car below 1.2 tons, you can go 80 km/h (50 mph) in built-up and urban areas or 60 km/h (38 mph) if your car is over 1.2 tons. If your car is below 1.2 tons, the speed limit is 90 km/h (56 mph) in country areas and 120 km/h (75 mph) on motorways. If your car is above 1.2 tons, the speed limit is 80 km/h (50 mph) in rural areas and 100 km/h (63 mph) on motorways. If your car is towing a trailer, it can only travel at 45 km/h (28 mph) in built-up areas. You can go on motorways at 60 km/h (38 mph) on rural roads and 80 km/h (50 mph).

Tips for driving in Thailand

  • You should drive on the left side of the road

  • You can only drive on a Thai road if you are over 18 (you are allowed to drive scooters and motorcycles below 110cc if you are 15)

  • Both drivers and passengers on motorcycles and scooters must wear helmets

  • Children operate scooters as young as 12, so extreme vigilance is advised on Thai roads

  • The driver and passengers of a car must wear seat belts at all times

  • You are not allowed to use your mobile phone unless you use a hands-free device

Drinking and driving

You can have a blood-alcohol level of 0.02% if you are under 20 and 0.05% if you are over. If you drive under the influence, you will be fined 5,000 ($142) to 20,000 baht ($569), imprisoned for up to a year, and have your license suspended for up to 6 months. Suppose you cause injury to another person (or people) while driving under the influence. In that case, you will be fined 20,000 ($569) to 120,000 baht ($3,414), imprisoned for 1 to 6 years, and suspended from your license for up to 2 years. If you cause the death of a person while driving under the influence, you will be fined up to 200,000 baht ($5689), imprisoned for up to 10 years, and revoked your license.

Top 3 Destinations to Visit in Thailand


Bangkok is a buzzing city of eight million people in Thailand’s capital. It is known for its street life, food, and historic temples and palaces. Bangkok has a fast-moving capitalist element, with its city center filled with skyscrapers. It also has an ancient canal system that winds through the bustling metropolis. It is a major shopping district for much of South and South-East Asia and a haven for bargain hunters. It would be best if you took the time to take a boat cruise on the Chao Phraya River on your trip. On your trip, be sure to visit the luxurious Siam Paragon shopping center, the traditional floating markets, Lumpini Park, and the Grand Palance.

Chiang Mai

If you want to explore a more traditional part of Thailand that better signifies its ancient roots, you should visit Chiang Mai. Misty jungle mountains shroud this town. It would be best if you started your exploration with the Doi Inthanon National Part, a part of the Himalayan mountain range. You can visit some remote villages with breathtaking views. This town is also home to active Buddhist temples such as the famous Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh, and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temples. Taking a stroll through some handicraft villages is a must.


The ancient city of Ayutthaya was a previous capital and is situated 80km north of Bangkok. You can tour the ruins of the center of the great kingdom of Siam and soak in its Buddhist history. You can visit the famous Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park, home to reliquary towers, wat, and stucco statues, is surrounded by three rivers and spreads over 289 hectares. The Wat Phra Mahathat is the most famous of its temples and is home to a Buddha statue whose head is entwined in tree roots.


Am I required to have an International Driving Permit in Thailand?

We highly recommend having an IDP when traveling to Egypt, as many countries require you to have a valid driving license and an IDP. 

Can I use my EU driver’s license in Thailand?

Yes, you may use your EU license in Thailand, but you can only do so while also using an IDP.

How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in Thailand?

Although Thailand was contracted to the Vienna and Geneva Motor Traffic Conventions in 1968 and 1949, you may only use your IDP for one year.

How long will transferring my license to a Thai license take?

If there are no complications and you have a valid foreign license and an IDP, the process should take a week.

On which side do you drive in Thailand?

Motorists drive on the left side of the road in Thailand.

Do you need a foreign license printed in English to drive in Thailand?

No, but you must have a valid International Driving Permit, an internationally recognized translation of your driving license. 

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