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Ex-pat Driving Back In The U.s.


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I am an ex-pat residing in Thailand.  I will go back to the U.S. for a visit and I wish to drive.  Can I use my Thai driver's licence for this?  I can not get an international driver's licence in Thailand yet.

How can an ex-pat without a U.S. driver's licence drive legally in the U.S.?

thanks,

-q

Are you kidding?

Of course you can drive in the US with your Thai Drivers license.....

.....But you need a US /State Drivers license to drive LEGALLY... :o

Best thing to do is to get someone else to drive you around while you're stateside, if you are only going to be here for a short time....

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Can I use my Thai driver's licence to get an international driver's licence in the U.S.?

There must be some provision for ex-pats who want to drive in the U.S. If I understand correctly, there are 4 million U.S. ex-pats around the world. It would make business travel prohibitive without some reasonable provision for temporary legal driving in the U.S. There has got to be some better way than having someone drive me around.

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I found one source which says it IS legal to use a foreign driver's licence to drive in the U.S. Here is part of the quote:

"Therefore, New York, and all other U.S. States, are required to honor licenses from signatory nations for one year from the date the driver enters the U.S. (provided the home license is, and remains, valid)."

http://www.frogsonline.com/america/-usa/usa-driving.shtml

This website calls itself FrogsOnLine.com

“The website for travellers and expats”

I don't know how accurate they are. I will continue to try to find other sources as well as call the U.S. embassy here in Thailand.

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1. The lady at the U.S. embassy who answered the phone said that the Thai driver's licence probably is not valid in the U.S., but she said she didn't really know the answer. She said I should get an international licence.

2. I called a police department back where I used to live. They said that I could still use my old licence if it is still valid. But, then she said she wasn't sure either.

She advise me to call the DMV. That is hopeless because you can't contact them by phone.

I was amazed by her answer. It seems to indicate that the police officers themselves don't know the law. They don't know what is and isn't legal.

3. The place in Thailand where I got the Thai licence claimed that it would be valid in the U.S.

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Im sure it would be the same every time you APPLY ( renew ) your license . The old one is not proof but can be used as one peice of information. You have to bring documents. stating your name , address , age

Birth cert.

Bill with your name and address on it

Passport.

credit card(s)

Social security number / card.

When you get here go into the dmv with everything you have. You will be ok

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Assuming that a Thai licence is valid for short periods of driving in the US (I have no idea whether that is actually the case), at the very least you'll need some kind of certified translation of the licence should you ever need to present it to the American police, rent a car, etc.

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Jeff1,

Do you think I can renew my license even though I live in Thailand? Is that what you are saying?

-q

Get an English translation of your Thai license, and provided your stay in the US doesn't exceed 90 days, you are OK. As a check, email a major rentacar operation in the States and ask if they'll hire you a car on a translated and certified Thai driver's license

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As DMV's are administered at a State level, it's going to vary. In Illinois, your license in Thailand would be valid for 30 days.

...and so would the requirements for renewing a lapsed United States licence vary from state to state.

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This does raise a point for Brits as well.

I can't see a Bitish bobby accepting a Thai licence.

If you live in Thailand and not the UK, then you are no longer entitled to a UK licence!!

Part of the EU rules. You must get a licence where you live, France, Germany etc,

no only considered those of us who live in places like Thailand.

The way round it is to register your UK licence at a friend's address, but not really legal!!

The problem will come when I reach 70 and have to renew the licence every 2 years, and need a doctor's certificate to back up the renewal.

Edited by astral
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This does raise a point for Brits as well.

I can't see a Bitish bobby accepting a Thai licence.

If you live in Thailand and not the UK, then you are no longer entitled to a UK licence!!

Part of the EU rules.  You must get a licence where you live, France, Germany etc,

no only considered those of us who live in places like Thailand.

The way round it is to register your UK licence at a friend's address, but not really legal!!

The problem will come when I reach 70 and have to renew the licence every 2 years, and need a doctor's certificate to back up the renewal.

Yes I think I would go that route. They do not have to know that you live in Thailand . Or are planning to go back , You are here now and you are a citizen , you can renew . I wouldnt even bother with the Thai license . Do you still have your old state one ?

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no you cannot drive with thai diver license, if you drive with international driver license you need a state(US) license to accompany the international license

yes you can renew your license if you have an address in the US, just send it there, they may require you to take a driving test over again(depend on your record)

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no you cannot drive with thai diver license, if you drive with international driver license you need a state(US) license to accompany the international license

yes you can renew your license if you have an address in the US, just send it there, they may require you to take a driving test over again(depend on your record)

If the guy has a US license whyever would he want to use a Thai or International license ? I'd check your facts again. I used a translated Thai license to rent and drive cars in the USA.

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I found one source which says it IS legal to use a foreign driver's licence to drive in the U.S. Here is part of the quote:

"Therefore, New York, and all other U.S. States, are required to honor licenses from signatory nations for one year from the date the driver enters the U.S. (provided the home license is, and remains, valid)."

http://www.frogsonline.com/america/-usa/usa-driving.shtml

This website calls itself FrogsOnLine.com

“The website for travellers and expats”

I don't know how accurate they are. I will continue to try to find other sources as well as call the U.S. embassy here in Thailand.

This is for foreigners. If you are a US citizen you are expected to continue to renew your US drivers license. You will find rental car web pages that will say international driving permit will not be accepted for rental from US citizens. So if you do try to use an IDP don't expect insurance to be valid.

You should contact your last state of residence and renew your US licence. Most, if not all, can do this by mail or even on internet.

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As a US citizen I was able to rent a car at the SF airport using a UAE license (my California license had expired). In some states like Oregon if you reside in the state you are required to have a local license and also to register your car in the state if you have out of state plates...they don't like 'Californicators' in Oregon.

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I have no idea on US-regulations. EU-citizen, Astral said it, can obtain a DL only

at the place of residence.

My (German) embassy in BKK is not in charge for DL, but refer to the residence place, in my case Bangkok. Although I keep my German licence, which is valid for lifetime and the police will usually accept it at a routine check, the only licence with which I am legally allowed to drive in Germany is the Thai - licence, either with a translation or an intern. driving permit, issued in Thailand.

Having registered my place of residence as Bangkok and not having any domicile

in Germany puts me on equal footing with a Thai visiting Germany.

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no you cannot drive with thai diver license, if you drive with international driver license you need a state(US) license to accompany the international license

yes you can renew your license if you have an address in the US, just send it there, they may require you to take a driving test over again(depend on your record)

If the guy has a US license whyever would he want to use a Thai or International license ? I'd check your facts again. I used a translated Thai license to rent and drive cars in the USA.

in his case the answer is no, regarding international diver license not include US since he is a US citizen he must have a State driver license, any other country you need your local license to accompany your international driver license.

just consider yourself lucky to be able to rent a car with your thai license, you must of rent your car at a grandma/grandpa car rental, the only car they have is a yugo

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For a fact, you can use your Thai licence to drive in California for up to 90 days. Did it myself a few years ago, and even used it to rent a car (though I had to show them in the driver's book where it said my Thai DL was legal in California). No translations needed...

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This issue goes to the heart of a problem that we encounter as expats, that is the desireability of maintaining a home address in our native country. I didn't and live here to regret it.

It was simple to do it. Called a friend, told him he had a phantom room-mate who traveled a lot and please forward the rare mail for me he ever got.

After doing this, I was able to change credit cards from one who charged me 145 USD a year service to a free one, once I had a U.S. Address.

Likewise, special rate internet banking facility, no go unless U.S. address.

For those legally inclined, there are different legal descriptions for "residence". They include where you live, where you designate as your permanent legal residence, where you don't necessarily live, and a residence of convenience where you might stay rarely.

My current official explanation is that I have two homes, one in Hawaii, (phantom room-mate scenario) where I am rarely, and my other home in Thailand. It is my business how much time I stay in either one. Only the tax man needs to know, if that.

I use his telephone number and if he is ever called, room-mate is travelling. He e-mails me about call. One has never been made. Many times when ordering merchandise or signing up for a service, the web page doesn't accept a Thai telephone number due to the digits programed, so I use the U.S. one.

The DMV website in Hawaii advises that I must appear in person to renew my license and take an eye test.

My advice is to plan on going to the DMV in your home state when your their on leave and get a new license whatevere it takes. Make sure you have your U.S. residence address ready when you do. Usually a lapsed license requires you to take the written test over again, not the drivers one.

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I don't think that just having a mailing address in California will make me eligible for a driver's license if I am not a resident.

I want to give up my residence in California because I don't want to pay California taxes. That is the reason I want to see if I can use my Thai driver's license.

If I continue to renew my California license, then I am worried California will want me to pay state taxes.

I understand that I can get an official Thai translation for 50 baht at the same place I got the license.

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This issue goes to the heart of a problem that we encounter as expats, that is the desireability of maintaining a home address in our native country.

I recall reading that it's also desirable to not let that home driver's licence lapse (for Americans) because if one ever does move back to the States, the car insurance companies like to see a continuous licensing period when they run their computer check on one's driving record.

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quadricorrelator... I used a friend's address in CA when I renewed my DL in 1999. No hassles with CA tax people...

To renew you have to show up at the local DMV and take a written test. Nowhere does it say that you must declare your mailing address as your place of residence. You are allowed to write a different address on the back of the DL where it says 'address change'. Not sure what this all means if your 'declared' (to others like the IRS) residence is in Thailand. Probably not much if like me you never intend to return permanently.

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This issue goes to the heart of a problem that we encounter as expats, that is the desireability of maintaining a home address in our native country.

I recall reading that it's also desirable to not let that home driver's licence lapse (for Americans) because if one ever does move back to the States, the car insurance companies like to see a continuous licensing period when they run their computer check on one's driving record.

That is probably true but you can also obtain a safe driving letter from overseas insurance company before you leave which should have the same effect.

You do not have to retain a US address to retain your US licence, at least in the two states that I have used. My present address is here in Bangkok and is listed on my Florida license, which was mailed here.

In the case of California they allow use of license of your 'residence' so if you are a resident of Thailand you should be able to use a Thai license based IDP.

Concern about state tax is probably valid. New York once tried to get me for tax from a prescription made out while on vacation. :o

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You do not have to retain a US address to retain your US licence, at least in the two states that I have used. My present address is here in Bangkok and is listed on my Florida license, which was mailed here.

That's interesting. I wouldn't have expected that any state would be keen on the idea of a licensee listing an out-of-state address, especially an international address.

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no you cannot drive with thai diver license, if you drive with international driver license you need a state(US) license to accompany the international license

yes you can renew your license if you have an address in the US, just send it there, they may require you to take a driving test over again(depend on your record)

If the guy has a US license whyever would he want to use a Thai or International license ? I'd check your facts again. I used a translated Thai license to rent and drive cars in the USA.

in his case the answer is no, regarding international diver license not include US since he is a US citizen he must have a State driver license, any other country you need your local license to accompany your international driver license.

just consider yourself lucky to be able to rent a car with your thai license, you must of rent your car at a grandma/grandpa car rental, the only car they have is a yugo

It was the Grandpa pantomime of world wide fame called B U D G E T :o

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As DMV's are administered at a State level, it's going to vary. In Illinois, your license in Thailand would be valid for 30 days.

This question piqued my interest since I left California for Bangkok and plan to drive in Illinois on an upcoming trip using my existing California license. I have not yet obtained a Thai drivers license, but I intend to do so and allow my CA license to expire (I am also keen on terminating my CA residency for tax purposes).

I went to the California and Illinois state websites and followed links to get to driver's license regulations. For California, I was able to find the real motor vehicle code whereas the Illinois website seemed to give me the Cliff Notes version with friendy but ambiguous text. Under their respective Exemptions sections:

California states that a driver holding a license issued by the foreign jurisdiction where the person resides may drive without a California license. I did not notice any limit to the number of days, but I skimmed and imagine the rub would be an interpretation that you have become a California resident by virtue of stay or intentions. A short 10 day limit applies from the time you become a California resident to obtain a California license.

Illinois states that an adult holding a license from their "home" state or country may drive for up to 90 days. But it does not exactly spell out what "home" means, e.g. that it equals country of residence. It also provides other exemptions that last longer than 90 days, e.g. for military duty or attendance of a school by an out of state student.

I did not see any mention of citizenship requirements for using a foreign license OR for obtaining a state license (the latter merely requires lawful residence).

FWIW, an International Driver's Permit is nothing more than a legalized translation of your real license in a form accepted by countries which have adopted the relevant IDP treaty. It is not to be used in lieu of your license and does not appear to be required in many cases.

For those recommending a virtual presence in their last US state, how do you expect this to work with regard to voting? Do you also vote absentee for that state? Having registered using the Federal election form, I would be concerned with creating conflicts between my claimed expatriate voting status and DMV status, given the increased linkage between DMV records and the voter roll. Am I being paranoid?

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