Driving in Phuket being a tourist: get fine, get worse or be legal.
Thousands of tourists from different parts of the world come to Phuket. They plan to rent a car or a bike for their vacation. Can they use their home country driving license to drive a rental vehicle? Or they need a special driving license in Phuket?
It doesn’t matter where you’re from, anyway police say you must have a Thai license or an IDP (International Driving Permit), so you can drive legally in Phuket.
I have been spending much time in Phuket but I’m still not absolutely sure if I can use my home-country driving license or I must have a Thai one. What happens if my license is issued in English? Can I use it? What are the fines if I am caught driving without a Thai license, and what happens if I get in an accident?
– Tilde Chimbote, Chalong
You’re a foreigner. You want to drive in Thailand. You don’t have a Thai driving license. You must hold an «International Driving Permit» (IDP) issued in your home country then.
Remember that the IDP is not a license. It is a translated version of a license issued by a country that signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968).
Countries that signed the Convention recognize “any domestic driver’s licence written in their national language or in one of their national languages or its translation.
So, any person who wants to drive in Thailand and use a driver’s license not issued in Thailand – and especially those not issued in English – must have BOTH a valid license issued in their home country and an IDP to have the opportunity to drive legally being in Thailand.
These rules work both for foreigners who stay in the country for a long period and for tourists who want to rent a car or a bike for the period of their vacation. This way you can be much confident that no matter what happens: police on your way, accident or some other occasions – you’re protected with your having a Thai driver’s license.
If you do not have a valid license and an IDP, you can be absolutely responsible for any accident you are taken in and any insurance coverage may automatically become paid because you drove your vehicle illegally.
– Chutinan Jindachuea, Chief, License Division, Phuket Provincial Transport Office.
If the police stops you and you can’t show your valid license issued in your home country and an IDP and it can’t be checked in English, you will be fined. You can have a driving license in Phuket that you have taken from there instead, so that it will save your wallet and mind from many problems with the police.
The fine is normally between 200 and B500. If you refuse to pay the fine, your situation can be taken to the court.
All in all, have a Thai driving license, get an IDP before leaving your home country if you don’t want to be fined because you drive illegally.
– Lt Surapong Phuhgrom, Inspector, Kathu Traffic Police.
If you are a driver, you must have a valid driver’s license. Your license may be Thai, or from your home country. It must be translated into English translation. You can have an IDP (International Driving Permit). You must have your driver’s licenses all the time when you drive a vehicle, also never forget to have your valid passport with you.