Exchange of licenses?

HI all,

Does anyone know the procedure for applying for a driver’s license in Taiwan? I was told that I will need to get my driver’s license certified by the Overseas Embassy, then when I arrive in Taiwan, they will exchange my overseas license for a Taiwan license. So obtaining a Taiwan license is at the expense of my original license?? Does that make sense? That means I won’t have a license to drive when I return to my own country??!

Is there a way around this ? Or have I been misinformed?

ps. Also wondering if applying for a driver’s license as a visitor (ie international license) is different compared to applying for one as a Taiwan resident (ie after marriage). Can someone explain to me what exactly is an international license?


My understanding of it is you can exchange your license if you are from certain countries. SA and a few others. Canadian and American can not.

An international license is only valid for two months. From the date of entery into Taiwan.

you’ll find more info

the test is easy and in English

Hi CCN - I have wondered about your last question before - that is, when you exchange your license, do they actually take away the license from your ‘home’ country, and can you ever get it back?

Comments, anyone?

An international driving permit is obtainable from a driver’s assocation in your home country. In the U.K., for example they are provided by the Automobile Association and you can apply for and get one at main post offices. They do not take away your original license! An IDP is normally valid for a year, but if you use it in Taiwan, you have to get it stamped by a Department of Motor Vehicles office here, whereupon it will be valid for a year I think (although somebody reported only getting it stamped for six months -
I don’t know whether that was renewable).

[Edit: for up-to-date info on IDPs, see this thread:
[Foreign-issued International Driving Licenses/Permits ]

If you want to take the driving test here and get a Taiwanese license, you need to have an A.R.C. (Alien Resident Certificate), which you get through work or marriage. That must also be the case if you exchange your license from your home country for a Taiwanese one. The process is the same whether your A.R.C. is through work or marriage.

More threads which may be of help are:
[Driving Licenses in Taiwan for Foreigners
[Driver's License
[Got my car and motorcycle licence
[Is it really essential to have an ARC before I can buy a scooter?
[Validity of ARC, TW Driving Licence and TW International Driving Permit

[quote=“ski”]My understanding of it is you can exchange your license if you are from certain countries. SA and a few others. Canadian and American can not…[/quote]
I think some U.S. states have a reciprocal license agreement. Anyway, the details are on the website you gave the link for.

[quote=“ski”]the test is easy and in English[/quote]The practical sections of both the motorcycle and car driving tests have tricky bits. The theory sections require a thorough memorisation of the test questions booklet, that is unless you are in Taipei City, where all accounts have it that the range of questions is narrower and limited to the questions which come up on the online practice test, again at that site you linked to. (Although you still need to cycle through the online test a few times to see all the questions they have there).

Traveller: Do you know any of the details about what’s involved in Taiwan to do a “license exchange”? What does that really mean here? Sounds like you have to give up your home country license.


Seeker, only people from certain countries/states are allowed to do an exchange. For everyone else, you either use an international licence duly stamped, or take the local test, which is not difficult and certainly here in Taipei can be done in English.

It is hard to tell, but I think that that website gives more info, as you mentioned.

If I’m reading it correctly, Option 1 means that you can go into the Taiwanese DMV office and get your international drivers license (from your home country) stamped and so validated for longer use (one year?).

Option 2 means that you can “exchange” your home country license for a Taiwanese license.

Option 3 means that having a valid intl drivers license alone will qualify the holder for a Taiwanese license (similar to Option #2 above).

For, for example, if we pick the State of Hawaii (from the U.S.), it is eligible only for Option 1.

Do I seem to be interpreting that chart correctly?


Seeker, in terms of what the exchange entails, then sorry no idea, as to a list of countries/states then check the link in ski’s post.

Of course they do not take your ‘real’ license away, they just keep a photocopy.
Oh, and be careful how you use the abbreviation IDP!

I wonder when they started this restriction on who could have a licence. I suppose someone in the FAP woke up one day and went “Hey " I’ve got another idea about how we can make foreigners’ lives in Taiwan a bit more unpleasant !”

I changed my Northern Ireland licence for a Taiwanese car licence in November 1995, and sat the bike test (no written) a couple of weeks later. An English one wouldn’t have done (a friend of mine with an English licence couldn’t do the same) as it had no photo on it.

Does anyone else remember doing the licence exchange, and if so, can you remember when ? And what (if any) rationale there was to it ?

[quote=“hsiadogah”]Of course they do not take your ‘real’ license away, they just keep a photocopy.
Oh, and be careful how you use the abbreviation IDP![/quote]
Normally, I’d agree that your conclusion was “of course”. Just for entertainment:

In the U.S., most things like this seem to adhere more closely to common sense. But even by that standard, you can’t be sure. I was just researching the reverse of this situation for a class of mine: A Taiwanese national moving to the State of New York. In NY, they actually take the real license. And, ready for this:

“The local DMV office keeps your foreign driver license, and then destroys the license after 60 days. If you plan to return to your home country and use your foreign driver license, ask the road test examiner how to make sure that your foreign driver license is not destroyed. If you need to get your foreign driver license, go to the local DMV office where you applied for your NYS driver license.” … hernations

That policy stumped me some. Plus, can you really imagine giving anything important to a DMV office with the words, “Hey, keep this safe for me…I’ll be back in 3 years to pick it up.” :loco:

So, who knows what Taiwan would actually do in this situation? And whether or not that would be done every day in every DMV office here?

Thanks you seeker4, but I am well aware of the often gaping chasm that exists between what we westerners think is logical, and what actually happens here :wink:

I ‘exchanged’ my overseas license for a local one back in 1990 or so, and still have the now battered original in my possesion. It had no photo on it, and just some codes on the front. Typed in caps was the word “FULL” and I latched onto that in the …er discussion that ensued about what kind of piece of paper I was presenting, and whether or not it was in fact a real license. The exalted official at the back of the office was approached for an audience, the one with the biggest tea thermos. He held my license upside down and peered at it for a good three minutes before I politely turned it the right way up for him. Then I pointed out the single word “FULL”. Commands were issued to the front desk and a huge binder was dragged out of a steel cabinet and dusted off. More front deskers gathered around to gaze at the strange artifact. Pages were flipped revealing copies of licenses from all over the world, the crowd waited with baited breath. At last a page was turned and revealed a document that looked strangley like mine. It was extracted and turned over again and again, but no photograph could be seen, not even a space for one. Finally it was decided that the barbarian documents had no photos. We were backwards, and uncultured, but it was accepted that my document was indeed a driving license of some kind, but for what class of vehicle? Seizing the moment I showed that on the reverse of the license was a long list of vehicle categories that the license could apply to, and then pointed again to the word “FULL” in a box on the front, and smiled m. I was instructed to go return to the clutches of the peons at the front desk, who asked politely, “What licenses would you like to apply for?” It is to my enduring shame that I asked only for a car and a heavy motorcycle license at that time, instead of grasping the opportunity to take them for heavy goods vehicles, PSVs or amphibious landing craft :frowning:
They made several copies of my license, relieved me of a few hundred NT dollars, a few photos, a quick medical exam (which is a story in itself) and a few queues later, issued my licenses and returned the original to me.


Great story. I had a replay of that, with minor changes, at a bank while opening an account the other day. Funniest thing was that when I opened an account a month ago with a private bank here, it worked like a charm. Then, tried it with one of those “government” banks, and that was when the whole “archeological scratch-n’-sniff summon-the-medicine-man” approach started. It was very entertaining.

My point on the NY DMV was just that even in the States we really do goofy things like take people’s licenses and destroy them. I’m still shaking my head over that one.



You see, some things are just the same as back home. Government bureacracy is stupid the world over. I think that’s the usual arrogance of US officialdom however. You must be planning on staying in the US forever, right? :unamused:
I still kick myself for not going the whole nine yards and getting all the licenses. It would have been so cool to be a bignose with a license to drive a gravel truck :wink:

Shortly before leaving Taiwan, for Thailand a month ago, I received a $300 fine for left turning where I shouldn’t have, on my scooter.

In addition I received a $6 000 fine for driving without a valid licence.

Very reluctant to pay the biggy, in Thailand I bought a “UN International Drivers Licence”, for 500 baht.

Upon returning I produced the “licence”, in the hope of paying the $300 dollar baby, and squashing the biggy, I was told it did not have any chinese translation and was no good. I had it translated by a translation firm, at a cost of $600.

Returned to the DMV with aforementioned translated copy, and was given a permit to drive anything, including my 125cc, up to 3 500 kg, valid for five years. At the same time I payed the $300 fine. The $6 000 nasty was squashed!

That said, I have a professional driving permit (PDP) valid in SA, which they weren’t interested in when I showed it to them a year ago.

You never can tell in Taiwan!

Check out . Gives the low-down, I hope. No need for UK Int. licence folk to go to the office.

All the best


I’m from one of those few U.S. states that Taiwan acknowledges for an “exchange” of licenses, so, having finally gotten my U.S. license validated through the Taiwan gummit office in Texas (cost US$15), I went in to the Banqiao office on Thursday to attempt the swap.

For some reason, several people seemed convinced I am from Australia, which led to some confusion. Then they told me that I was not qualified to exchange my license because my country does not allow for it. I insisted it does and told them to check their own website, which they didn’t do. But there was a lot of huddling of various groups of clerks and supervisors, and a great deal of photocopying of my documents. Then some people said my license wasn’t valid because it didn’t match the photo in their outdated book. But we eventually got past that, not least because I pulled out an old driver licence that matched what they thought it should be like (though it expired long ago).

Anyway, a health check is needed, but that’s largely a formality. There’s a clinic directly across the street from the Banqiao office. Take two photos and NT$140(?) for a health check for a car license, or NT$100 for a health check for a scooter license. (Why they demand separate health checks is beyong me.) Height, weight, eyesight, and peripheral vision – that’s all, except for having to squat down and raise my arms. :s

I wasn’t able to get a motorcycle license along with the “exchange” of my U.S. license (which I was able to keep after showing it to them). But I didn’t have to take the written test, just the driving test (cost: NT$125 or so for test, and NT$18 to rent a scooter for the test).

Thanks Cranky. Useful info there.

Thanks for your post also caesartg, but I feel that your interpretation is incorrect.

[quote=“caesartg”]Check out . Gives the low-down, I hope. No need for UK Int. licence folk to go to the office.[/quote]You certainly need to go to the office and get your UK international driving license stamped to be valid for a year. And you can’t exchange it for an R.O.C. license.

The information on the website you linked to is ambiguous, and if you click through on the “Europe” link, all the information concerns holders of R.O.C. International driving permits driving in Europe.

The information within this website;
is more helpful.

Does anyone know where I can find a motor vehicle branch in Kaohsiung?