Renewing a driver’s license

I recently went to the Phuket Provincial Transportation Office (PPTO) with all the correct documents, including my current motorcycle license, and applied for a five-year motorbike license. I was told that my license had two weeks left and to come back after the license had expired.

I went through great pains to pass my test – legally and correctly – here in Thailand, and do not intend to ride about on an expired license. Is this information correct?

Terence, Patong.

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According to Ministry of Transportation regulations, if you apply for a driver’s license you must first be issued with a license that is valid for one year. After you have held that “provisional” license for a complete year, you will be issued a license that is valid for five years.

The law is very clear in that the one-year license must expire before you can be issued a five-year license.

Five-year licenses, however, are treated differently. They can be renewed up to two weeks before they expire.

The best thing to do is to renew your license on the same day that it expires. If that is not possible because your license expires, say, on a public holiday or a Sunday, then you should renew it the next day that the PPTO is open.

The PPTO charges no fee for renewing a license after it has expired as long as the license is being renewed within one year of it expiring.

If you try to renew your license more than one year after your previous license has expired, then you will be required to repeat the entire process of obtaining a driver’s license, including all tests.

Although traffic police are usually understanding if they catch you driving on a license that has only recently expired, they might charge you for driving without a license if the license has been expired for quite some time.

For you, as a foreigner, to renew your driver’s license, you must apply at the PPTO in person and bring with you your previous driver’s license, passport, letter from Immigration confirming your address and two one-inch photos.

A one-year motorbike driver’s license costs 55 baht, and a one-year car driver’s license costs 105 baht.

A five-year motorbike driver’s license costs 255 baht, and a five-year car driver’s license costs 505 baht.

Supakorn Wilairat, Chief of the license issuing section at the PPTO.

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