Difficulty Getting a Driver's License?

Hello all. Apologies if this has been posted before, but I could use the advice on this forum.

I am from USA, living in Hsinchu for 8 months now. I have a license from California USA (20 years driving, clean record), and I want to obtain a Taiwan Driver’s license without giving up my US one.

I went to the Hsinchu DMV. They don’t speak much English there and and my Chinese is not proficient enough to understand conversation, so I showed my California DL along with my International Driving Permit, and explained I wanted to get a Taiwan DL. It seemed my CA DL and IDP did not matter at all and I would need to go through the usual process.

I have since passed the medical exam and written exam (in English). To prepare for the driving test, I watched many videos, and studied all the rules and procedure of the test. When it was time to take the driving test, unfortunately my instructor did not speak English at all, and so I could not understand him. I immediately failed the test for doing something small which I didn’t understand and left discouraged.

Any advice here? If I have a US DL, is there a way to obtain a DL without taking the driving test? If I must take the driving test, is there a DMV with known English speakers (in Taipei, perhaps)? Or can I hire a translator to bring along? Any advice is much appreciated!

If you transfer your license (no tests needed) you have to give up your US license.

You are doing the usual way of getting a drivers license. Just make sure to inquire at the dmv the instructor should speak English.

Your medical and written test records are saved for 1 year , therefore You can do the driving test as many times as you want until you pass the test and also this is the cheapest option

Check these videos and study well what do you think went wrong on your previous driving test experience

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I started the driving test with my handbrake on and still passed. I had 8 points deducted for that and a further 16 for failing to parallel park properly (I touched the edges). My wife got 100% and won’t let me forget it.

Take the test again. It’s a piece of piss.

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I have a Texas drivers license and had it converted to a Taiwanese license last month (I kept my Texas license as well). They have a list of states with reciprocating agreements, check to see if California is one of them and make sure the license has not expired.
You can check the Reciprocating Countries List

  1. Schedule an appointment with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and get the license notarized (notary cost $50USD) *make sure to have a photocopy of the front and back of the license, if not they have a copy machine there (1 page cost NTD$10).
  2. Get a medical/health certificate at a authorized hospital, make sure to bring 2 passport photos. You can ask the local DMV which hospital to go to.

Things to bring to the DMV:

  • Passport and photocopy
  • Drivers license / notarized
  • Medical/Health certificate
  • ARC card with at least 6 months validity
  • 2 recent photos (3cm x 2.5cm)
  • Cash (should cost NTD$200)

I’m still figuring out a way to convert my Texas motorcycle license because apparently they don’t directly convert it now but I hope this helps!


Just to note, it only needs to be an un-expired license, and the 12 months only applies in this manner:

Notice: The authentication of driver’s license should be issued within the past 12 months.

I.e. notarized at the AIT within the last 12 months.


Thank you, I’ve edited that part!

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The OP has a California driver’s license, as do I. Unfortunately, California is not part of the reciprocating scheme, so that’s out. My coworker, also a California dude but who speaks and reads Chinese fluently, took the Taiwan driving test six times before he passed. You can do it!

Find a school that will let you pay per lesson and have an instructor take you through the course so you know exactly what to do. It should cost around 1,000 NT an hour. You’ll still have to pass the written test though as well, but it isn’t that hard if you take the practice test about a hundred times.


Thank you all for the excellent advice, it is much appreciated.

Looks like I cannot convert a California to Taiwan DL.

I will watch more videos, inquire about an English speaking instructor at the DMV, and possibly look into a school.

Thanks again!

For notarizing the US driver’s license at AIT, do we need to translate it to Chinese first? Is a google translated version on a word doc printout enough?

I was handed a piece of paper from the DMV with instructions:

"The following documents are required for exchanging a foreign driver’s license to the ROC driver’s license…

3 - Chinese translation of a foreign driver’s license is required if it is not in English. It must be notarized by the embassy or consulte…"

I think you answered your own question.
You don’t need translation if the documents are in english.


Wow I don’t know how I missed that. Somehow I read it as “if the documents are not in Chinese”