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profile member asked on Dec 19, 2016

Drive in Thailand without an international driving licence?

Hello!

I've a special demand this time to visit Thailand. I'm french if it's not written on my page and I'm renewing my driving licence after I lost it in a train... The administration in INCREDIBLY slow and I'm not sure if my national french driving licence will be ready on time before I go to Thailand... Plus if I have to make an INTERNATIONAL driving licence which is going to take 2 extra weeks... Needless to say I'm in a hurry.

I know it's not legal to use only my FRENCH driving licence (if I've it on time!) but I wanted to rent a car (through the agency Thai Rent A Car for example)... But do you know if those rental cars companies ask to see your INTERNATIONAL driving licence at the offices when you come to get the car or is it ok if you just show your own national driving licence?

I'm not talking about the fines if I encounter a picky Thai policeman, it's ok I can deal with it. But can I rent a car in Thailand simply with my NATIONAL driving licence?

Thank you a lot! :)

Thailand

12 Answers


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from La Gouesnière

This is only what happened to me, so is possibly not the "legal" word on the matter. but I've rented vehicles (4WD) and scooters in Ko Samui, Phuket and Krabi and nowhere have I been asked for my Internation Licence, ever.


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Vancouver

I have been stopped by police road blocks in Thailand and they have asked to see my International Driving Permit. The best suggestion I can make is follow the rules or suffer the consequences. As to wether you can rent a vehicle from a car rental agency without showing your International Driving Permit, yes, more than likey. There are dodgey car rental agencies, that would rent to anyone, but would you want to rent a car from one of those?


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Saint-Tropez

Of course I don't want that come on ;) But I was asking if respectable rental cars companies with insurances were ok to rent you a car for Thailand without asking you an INTERNATIONAL driving licence. I know it's not the rule, but I can't ruin my trip (I need a car for my trip) because of the inefficiency of the administration :/


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Kuala Lumpur

I thought the law in thailand was that as a tourist you could drive using your national licence, provided it is recognised by the Thai authorities. I can't imagine the Thais not recognising France.

Edit - yeah, found it. [original link] section 42.2

You might want to take a translation of your licence into English, in case you are stopped by the police and they can't speak French.

Budget Rent-a-car in Bangkok didn't ask for an international licence. That is an international franchise, not a dodgy place. The whole experience was good with them.

[original VT link]


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Toronto

Chances are the car rental company will let you rent it. BUT I suggest you check with the Thai embassy to make sure an IDP is needed. If you get into an accident, your insurance may deny coverage if you don't have a valid license. Be careful when you're driving in Thailand. Traffic accidents are common and foreigners are usually blamed for causing one.


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Saint-Tropez

I mean I've a valid licence but not an international one... yet. I know Thai police tends to blame immediately the foreigners, that's the problem...


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Pattaya

Some rental places might rent a vehicle with a fishing license. The problem could be if you are in an accident or stopped by a policeman for some infraction.

If you have never driven in Asia before you are in for a treat. Bangkok is congested and traffic can be a challenge for experienced Thai visitors. (Thailand is easy to get around in. Long distant buses are cheap. There is long distance train service too. Also there are discount airlines available. Bangkok has cheap city rail service, cheap buses and the meter taxis are not that expensive when you pay the meter fare and not a flat rate.) Driving yourself you may have a problem finding a place to park in some areas.

My advice is to try and C Y A by having a valid license for your country and an International Drivers Permit.

In an accident you are the rich tourist with deep pockets!

[original link]

[original link]

You could be driving properly and suddenly an 12 year old kid riding a bike on the wrong side of the road smacks into you! Or even a drunk tourist plows into your rental and serious damage and injuries occur.

(At least you don't sound like a young backpacker learning how to drive a bike for the first time in Thailand!!)

Stay safe.


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Toronto

Sinosphere: by valid I mean even if you have your French license, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is legal to drive in Thailand with only that. Read more here from two Thai officials: [original link]

And as SirHalberd said, tourists will be the cash cow in an accident.


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answered on 12/19/16 by
a VT member from Saint-Tropez

I didn't plan to drive in Bangkok for sure. But it seems a bit too stressful to drive without the proper license indeed...


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answered on 12/20/16 by
a VT member from Miami

Get an IDP! Especially in Thailand, you do NOT want to get into trouble with the law in case something happens regardless of it being your fault or someone else's (and people there drive pretty wild).

Read the following:

he advice in this article is given in good faith by TripAdvisor Members to visitors to Thailand unfamiliar with how to hire and ride a motor vehicle or motorcycle both legally and safely and ensuring that they do not compromise any insurance arrangements either with the hire company or their travel insurance company. Reference is frequently made to the requirement for hirers to possess an International Driving Permit (IDP) obtained in the hirer's own country before they enter Thailand and enter into a hire agreement. In some Members' minds there is ambiguity about the interpretation of whether an IDP is an Internationally recognised legal requirement or merely is advisory. The balance of opinion currently and advice consistently given to visitors has been that an IDP is a legal requirement.

A comprehensive explanation of Driving Licence requirements from the Royal Thai Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, can be read in reply #17 in this topic dated December 2015,

If you are involved in an accident, with property damage or personal injury to any party, be aware that if the Thai Police and/or Insurance Company discover that licencing and permit documents are not in order, you may feel the full force of the law, and may have any insurance cover invalidated. You may also be required by the Thai authorities, to post a LARGE cash bail amount to cover any liability you may incur.

This has no simple answers, but these general factors need to be understood:

Thai Traffic and Motor Vehicle Law
Rental Agreements
Travel insurance

Honestly, I don't know why you wish to drive in Thailand any way? Traveling around by public transportation is so easy and cheap? Just something to consider.
Also, I don't understand this about the long wait for an IDP...? Most IDP's especially acquired via a motor club agency such as your local AAA or equivalence can issue your IDP within 30 minutes at most...


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answered on 12/21/16 by
a VT member from Penang

There is a possibility that you can have a valid IDL thru AAA. I understand that in some countries the AAA can produce a valid IDL.


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answered on 1/23/17 by
a VT member from Singapore

Big risk without IDP. Doesn't matter what the embassy says, doesn't matter what any official website says, if you're stopped by a traffic police, you don't have a IDP, he confiscates your driving license and asks you to visit nearby a nearby police station to pay a fine, you can argue until the cows come home and even if you win the arguement, you have lost half a day or 1 day of your limited vacation time there.

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