Today was my fifth attempt to get a driver’s license here. Mainly so I can enjoy the “local” rates on things like the difference between a 400 baht entrance and 40 baht entrance to a park or attraction. But also so I could hand the cops a real license when I get “randomly checked” for being suspicious looking.
If you are considering getting your Thai car or motorcycle license, here is what is needed:
Heath certificate (can be obtained at any clinic good for one month 100200 baht)
Current driver’s license from your home country.
Current residency certificate (Can be obtained by spending part of a day at the immigration office with a copy of your passport, two immigration size photos per certificate you want and a copy of your rental lease agreement. Pay 200 baht
Signed photo copy of your current driver’s license (if you have one), front and back. Bring the original.
Signed photo copy of your passport and current visa page (must match your residency papers so don’t leave and reenter the country till after you’re done or your residency papers won’t be valid). Bring your passport, too.
You will not need two driver’s license size photos IF they have the new camera working.
Duplicate everything if you want a motorcycle license too. It requires a separate license and paperwork. It’s 9 a.m. and I think I have my entire act together and I had verified this at one of the several shops around the driver’s license place. I got to the fun part. I had to get in the 100+ person, 3 hour line to meet with the paper checker lady. I couldn’t do it. I have an irrational fear of lines, so I panicked and ran out. Fifteen minutes later as I sat in my car upset that this was to be my fifth trip to the license registration office only to return empty handed. My phone beeped. My friend, knowing my issue because he saw me inside, came to the rescue and somehow cut in front of 100 people and text messaged me to return. When I got back up to the non air conditioned line in the large hall he yells out, “Get over here I was worried about you. You were in the bathroom a long time.” I slipped in, feeling a little dirty that I had butted in front of everyone, but justified a little too since even my friends Thai kids, always cut in front of me at 711. It was a little “vigilante justice” Farrang style.
After that I was given a number by the first paper checker lady and told to wait. Judging by the speed the numbers were clicking by I figured I had 12 hours to wait. I decided to escape the crowded room and get some fried snack from the vendor outside. It was a relief to not just get out of that over stuffed room, but to also know I was on my way to getting a legal license!
I return with a snack and drink for my friend and sat down in an empty slice of bench to wait. When I look over at another Farrang who is also stuck in Thai DMV purgatory. Much to my surprise I notice he seems to not be phased at all, but almost blissful in his blank smiling gaze. It’s 11 a.m. and judging by the pile of empty beer cans at his side, he’s been sitting there getting drunk to pass his time at the DMV. That helped put everything in perspective and I calmed right down.
Its now out noon (or 7 beers if you’re tracking time like the guy next to me) and my number finally comes up. I dutifully head to “desk number two” to hand in my papers to the second paper checker lady who checks my papers for real this time. She examines my passport and current Florida license and my immigration papers to verify I am the chump in all three photos. She tells me to go sit down wait till someone calls my name. I really know they will just murder it to something like “miter my stow”. So I pay close attention!
My name is murdered as expected, but I catch it just the same and go deeper into to the DMV with a group of others as directed. It’s here that my smart-alecky personality really comes out. When I see the devices that they plan to use to verify our driving skills I start to crack up. The
first was the color blind test. I couldn’t stop giggling. These tests always have a number hidden in them to read so you can tell the person can see all the colors. This test was just random dots.
I realized after thinking about it, with 20 people taking the test one number would be pretty stupid. She called us up one by one pointed at about six dots and asked what color they were. Passes went to the right and fails the left. The one poor chap who failed was allowed to
retest as he was a little rough on his reds and greens.
Next test had me almost in tears of laughter. It appeared to be a test or device to determine if we knew stop peddle from go peddle.
The final two tests were also very clever. One checks peripheral vision the other depth perception.
All in all it was quite painless and very entertaining. Once we passed we had to wait a mere 30 minutes for our new freshly printed licenses. In and out in about four hours as predicted. The fifth time’s the charm!
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