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China – Driving Licenses

China is a vast country with diverse driving regulations and requirements for foreigners who wish to drive there. In this article, we will explore the general rules and regulations for driving licenses in China for foreign nationals.

General rules for driving licenses for foreign nationals in China

Foreign nationals are allowed to drive in China using their valid foreign driving licenses for a limited period of time. The duration of validity varies depending on the issuing country, but it is generally around three months. After this period, foreign nationals must obtain a Chinese driving license to continue driving legally in the country.

Exchanging driving licenses in China

There are some agreements in place that allow certain foreign nationals to exchange their driving licenses for a Chinese one without having to take a driving test. These agreements include those with Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Taiwan. Citizens from these countries can exchange their driving license for a Chinese one by submitting an application to the local Vehicle Administration Office.

For citizens of other countries, a driving test is required to obtain a Chinese driving license. The test includes a written exam and a practical driving test.

Procedure for obtaining, exchanging and renewing a driving license in China

The process for obtaining, exchanging, and renewing a driving license in China involves several steps. The following are the general steps to be followed:

Obtaining a driving license in China


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  • Apply for a temporary driving license within 3 months of arriving in China. This temporary driving license allows foreign nationals to legally drive in China for a limited period of time.
  • Pass a written exam and a practical driving test in order to obtain a Chinese driving license. Foreigners must first obtain a learner’s permit before taking the driving test.

Exchanging a driving license in China

  • Check if there is an agreement between China and your home country that allows for a direct exchange of your driving license for a Chinese one.
  • If there is an agreement, submit an application to the local Vehicle Administration Office to exchange your driving license.

Renewing a driving license in China

  • Renew your driving license before its expiry date. The renewal process typically involves taking a written exam and a practical driving test.

Contact details of relevant government departments or agencies in China

The Vehicle Administration Office is the relevant government agency in China responsible for issuing driving licenses. For more information about obtaining or renewing a Chinese driving license, foreigners can contact the Vehicle Administration Office in their city or province.

Recognition of International Driving Permit (IDP) in China

China recognizes the International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid form of identification for foreign nationals who wish to drive in the country. An IDP can be obtained in the applicant’s home country and must be accompanied by a valid foreign driving license. The IDP is valid for one year.

Penalty system for motoring offences in relation to driving licenses in China

Driving offences in China are categorized as minor offences and major offences. Minor offences include speeding, driving without a license, and running a red light. Major offences include drunk driving, causing a serious accident, and fleeing the scene of an accident.

The penalties for driving offences in China vary depending on the severity of the offence. Penalties can range from fines and license suspension to imprisonment and deportation for foreigners. In some cases, foreigners may be deported after committing a driving offence in China.

Driving in China as a foreign national requires some understanding of the country’s regulations and requirements for driving licenses. While some foreign nationals may be able to exchange their driving license for a Chinese one, others will have to take a driving test to obtain one. It is important to familiarize yourself with the regulations and requirements in order to avoid penalties or legal issues while driving in China.


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