Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to get your Thai drivers license in 294 easy steps

Ok, so maybe it really wasn't 294 steps, but it sure felt like it. Eric and I had quite the adventure in getting our Thai drivers license. It began with each of us having to get a medical certificate to verify that we were free from the following conditions:

-Drug Addiction
-Chronic Alcoholism
I went to the BNH Hospital here in Bangkok and it cost 800 baht (about $20). Eric went to a hospital in Ayutthaya and he only had to pay 50 baht (about $1.75).

Once we had our medical certificate, we could now go to Thailand's version of the DMV- once we made copies of our passport, our US drivers license and Eric's work permit. We also had to have our US drivers license translated into Thai.

Armed with all of this paperwork, Eric and I traveled to a Thai "DMV" center located north east of Bangkok last Wednesday. During the initial paperwork check, I was informed that I was missing one piece of paperwork- a certified letter from the US embassy verifying my address in Thailand. So, I was not able to take my test that day. However, Eric took his test, paid 205 baht and was able to leave with his drivers license.

My adventure would take a few more steps. Last Thursday I walked to the US Embassy ( about a 15 minute walk from our condo) and asked about getting a certified letter for a Thai drivers license. The process was really easy, but very expensive- it cost me 1650 baht ($50) just to get one piece of paper signed and notarized! After forking over the money and waiting for 15 minutes, I walked out of the embassy with a $50 piece of paper that stated my Bangkok address.

Today was the last day of the adventure. I went back to the Thai DMV center, and I finally had all of the correct paperwork! So I was able to enter the testing room. There were four tests that I needed to pass in order to get my license. I think the weirdest part of the testing process was that is was done in a huge group, and you were corralled and ushered back and forth across a small room packed with people.

The first test is a "color test". There was a poster on the wall with hundreds of circles in red, yellow, and green and a DMV worker pointed to 4 or 5 circles and I had to say the color out loud. After passing that test, we had a 15 minute presentation on how to do the last three tests. Of course it was all in Thai, but it really wasn't that hard to figure out what I needed to do. 

The next test was a peripheral vision test. We had to put our faces on a machine that flashed red, yellow or green on the right and left side of our face. We had to say the color and the side that the light was flashing on. I had a rough time with this one because the yellow light they used looked green to me. I eventually passed this one and moved on to the last two tests.

The last two tests took place at the same station. A small student's desk with a brake pedal and gas pedal in front it and a box with buttons mounted to the top. About 15 feet away there was another box with red and green lights as well as two sticks mounted on a sliding track.

The gas and break pedal were used to judge how quickly you can go from stepping on the gas to stepping on the break. A green light would light up on the box 15 feet away as soon as I stepped on the gas pedal and when the light turned red I had to step on the break as quickly as possible. I saw a lot of Thai women that failed this test because they were wearing high heels, but because I was wearing sensible shoes I passed with flying colors!

And finally the last test was to use the buttons on my desk to move the two sticks in the box in front of me. Once they were perpendicular to each other I stopped and said "Ok". Since I put the sticks within an inch of each other, I passed the test. 

205 baht and a crappy photo later, I am now the proud owner of a Thai drivers license!!

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