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Can i use my thai drivers licence in the u.s. or do i need an international drivers licence


john 111

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I'm a u.s. citizen living in thailand for many years. i only have a thai drivers licence and no u.s. licence. Do i need an international licence to drive in the u.s. when i go for a visit? Or can i use my thai drivers licence? And if i need an international licence, where in Chiang Mai can i get one, and can i present my thai licence as proof of residence? Thanks very much for your help!!

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5 year Thai license in English and you are good to go. I have used mine the last 3 times home. Going on Thursday and picking up a car from Dollar, no worries. 

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I rented a car in SF and I showed both my CA DL and Thai and the lady told me that using my Thai license would be cheaper.  There is some extra tax added for locals (local to the SF BayArea).  I used my Thai license with no problem ...

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The problem is, the US apparently only recognizes the one-year IDP (Geneva). So if you get it in Thailand it will only be valid one year anyway.

 

Good news if the US allows you to drive with the Thai driving license only, which makes sense since all the info on it is in English.

 

In Europe some countries like Belgium will recognize the Thai driving license because it is in English, other countries (France, Germany) will want you to carry a certified translation in the national language. Of course in Europe they accept the 3-years Vienna convention IDP, which makes getting a IDP in Thailand for Europe less of a waste of time than getting a one-year IDP eg for the US or Japan.

 

I got the IDP for driving in Europe even where my Thai driving license in English is officially accepted. It's not so much the police I was afraid of as of an overzealous car rental employee.

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Posted (edited)

While it is legal by treaty (and I used my Thai license when I became a Covid refugee in Texas), be aware that a lot of cops don't know the rules. 

 

I'd suggest downloading and printing an authoritative looking summary from a US gub'ment or other website to show any cop that may pull you over.  In fairness to the cops, they may wonder why a US citizen would have a foreign license (too many DUI's back home?  Is it real?, etc.)  On the flipside, there are cops that are just itching to give people tickets for technical fouls, like an old address on your US license.  (Been there, done that)  Best to be as ready as you can be, especially as easy as it is to make a printout.

 

In my case (speaking of not knowing the laws), the Texas DMV lady made me surrender my Thai license when she issued my Texas DL.  She said I wasn't allowed to have 2 valid licenses at the same time.  I would have fought it, but my Thai DL had just a few months left on it and I didn't expect to ever use it again.

 

Edited by impulse
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This info is very interesting. I did not realize that a Thai drivers license could be legal in the U.S.  What about insurance polices in the U.S.? Do insurance companies cover if a person has a Thai drivers license?

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20 minutes ago, WhatMeWorry said:

This info is very interesting. I did not realize that a Thai drivers license could be legal in the U.S.  What about insurance polices in the U.S.? Do insurance companies cover if a person has a Thai drivers license?

If you're renting a car and do not live there , you will get daily coverage for the car that's extra.

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3 hours ago, WhatMeWorry said:

This info is very interesting. I did not realize that a Thai drivers license could be legal in the U.S.  What about insurance polices in the U.S.? Do insurance companies cover if a person has a Thai drivers license?

It can be done but you have to go to (find) an independent broker.....

I tried to restart my AAA coverage = they couldn't but sent me to a local broker....It ended up about $800 to cover my 4Runner....We logged over 5k miles as we RV'd about...

I did get an IDP = nobody paid any attention to it, however, it's my understanding that certain states absolutely require it while others do not....

I got it just for backup & will for the next trip too....

I did take a paper copy of my TH auto insurance, so they couldn't claim I was driving uninsured. It wasn't used - but I'll continue to do this as an ounce of prevention....

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6 hours ago, marin said:

5 year Thai license in English and you are good to go. I have used mine the last 3 times home. Going on Thursday and picking up a car from Dollar, no worries. 

Did you get the license in Chiang Mai? And if so, where did you go? Thanks in advance.

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2 hours ago, SamSanuk said:

Did you get the license in Chiang Mai? And if so, where did you go? Thanks in advance.

They sell them at the driver license shop in hangdog, pretty cheap too.

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On 5/14/2024 at 10:44 AM, marin said:

5 year Thai license in English and you are good to go. I have used mine the last 3 times home. Going on Thursday and picking up a car from Dollar, no worries. 

Thank you for your response. Both my licence car and motorcycle here have the main info first in thai and then in english.  Is this what you mean? So i don't need to get the international drivers licence at all for the U.S.? Again thanks.

 

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On 5/14/2024 at 2:42 PM, pgrahmm said:

It can be done but you have to go to (find) an independent broker.....

I tried to restart my AAA coverage = they couldn't but sent me to a local broker....It ended up about $800 to cover my 4Runner....We logged over 5k miles as we RV'd about...

I did get an IDP = nobody paid any attention to it, however, it's my understanding that certain states absolutely require it while others do not....

I got it just for backup & will for the next trip too....

I did take a paper copy of my TH auto insurance, so they couldn't claim I was driving uninsured. It wasn't used - but I'll continue to do this as an ounce of prevention....

Thank you.

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On 5/14/2024 at 11:18 AM, WhatMeWorry said:

This info is very interesting. I did not realize that a Thai drivers license could be legal in the U.S.  What about insurance polices in the U.S.? Do insurance companies cover if a person has a Thai drivers license?

 

The Thai license is only good for a limited period, not indefinitely. 

 

When I rent cars in the US and use the Thai license, it is always cheaper, and the insurance has always been included with the rental. 

 

 

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