Driving Licenses

Yes, You Need One… Although It might Not Be As Easy As You Think

According to the Land Traffic Law, if you are driving any motorised vehicle in the Kingdom, you are required to carry with you a Cambodian licence. However, this doesn’t apply to smaller bikes, after Prime Minister Hun Sen previously announced that drivers of motorcycles 125cc and under are exempt from this obligation.

However, as with many things in the Kingdom of Wonder, there is some ambiguity to this law. There have been cases of expats being fined for having no license, the explanation being that this law only applies to Cambodian citizens. So our best advice that is even if you only drive such a scooter, getting a local licence is still advisable. If the police catch you without a valid and recognised license expect to pay a fine of at least $5.

Think of it also in insurance terms: most insurers will not cover you in case of an accident if you are not in possession of a local licence.

Many people think they can drive in Cambodia using their International Driving Permit (IDP). Note that there is actually no such thing as an International Driving Licence, and that these tend to be faux documents obtained from unscrupulous websites. Your IDP can only be issued from your home country and usually lasts a year. This is another area of ambiguity here. Cambodia is not a signatory of the 1968 Convention and thus, strictly speaking, your IDP is not valid here at all. But with so little knowledge re the legality of the IDP, many people have had no issues using one. However, to go strictly by the current letter of the law, to drive legally in Cambodia, you need to obtain a Cambodian licence.

Foreigners must now travel to the General Department of Public Works and Transport (GDPWT) on St.598 (Chea Sophara Street) to obtain a new driving licence, or to renew an existing one. You can pay an agent to help you but officially, you will still need to appear in person yourself.  There is also now the option to convert or renew your licence at the new Aeon 2 mall (situated in Sen Sok City, off Street 1003). Requirements are the same, medicals are carried out on site, and your licence can be printed and ready within 30 minutes or so.

There are currently no other options of where to get driving licences for foreigners living outside of the capital, though we have heard reports that some agents have been able to provide this service from Sihanoukville and Kampot. If this is the case, the service will cost you a little more (there was one report of $150 being asked!) so we advise that the GDPWT or Aeon Mall II are your best options. However, agents can help with the process if not the obtaining of your new licence. We recommend Call Kim as one of the best agents around so it is worth getting in touch.

If you already possess a valid (i.e. non-expired) driving licence from your home country, you can “transfer” it to get a local licence, which will allow you to skip the written and the driving tests. This licence will be valid for one year.

You’ll need the following:

  • Original passport with photocopy
  • Photocopy of valid Cambodian visa (E visa with minimum 3 months left before expiry)
  • Your original national driving licence and photocopy (if not in English you will need an officially stamped translation through your Embassy)
  • Residency letter from your local Sangkat
  • 4 passport photos (4x6cm) against a white background

The fee is 31,000 riel, but you must also pay 10,000 riel for a health check, in which an official merely measures your height and weight, and an eyesight test.

If you don’t have a valid driving licence from your country, getting a Cambodian licence is a lengthier process. However, the licence you get is valid for 10 years.

The process is roughly the same whether applying for an A2 licence (motorbikes over 125cc) or B licence (passenger vehicles under 9 people). Note that a 10-year licence is only available for people under 57.

To get your 10-year Cambodian licence, head to the GDPWT with the following:

  • Original passport with photocopy
  • Photocopy of valid Cambodian visa (E visa with minimum 3 months left before expiry)
  • Residency letter from local Sangkat
  • 4 passport photos (4x6cm) against a white background

At the GDPWT you will be asked to fill a form with your information and pay the fee of 91,000 riels (about USD22.50). You must also pay 10,000 riels for health check, where the official will measure your height and weight, as well as the eyesight test.

You can then arrange an appointment for the theory test. After passing the theory test you can then take the practical driving test. You will receive your licence once passed.

Licence renewals or conversions for foreigners must now only be done at the GDPWT or at Aeon Mall II, and must be made with a valid national driving licence from your own country. This forces foreigners whose driving licences have now expired in their home country to apply for a new Cambodian licence.

Renewals follow the same fees as a new licence. The process should take less than two hours (plus travel time). You need almost the same documents as for transferring a foreign licence, along with your Cambodian licence, and a visa valid for more than one month. You are not required to bring along your Resident Letter (លិខិតបញ្ជាក់ទីលំនៅ) if your licence is expired less than one year. In case it is expired more than one year, you need to bring the Resident Letter (សំបុត្របញ្ជាក់ទីលំនៅ) with you. Reports say that renewals at Aeon Mall II are taking only 30 minutes, so this may be your best option.

Part of the 10-year licence process can now be done online at the Khmer language website driverlicense.mpwt.gov.kh.

You can fill in the personal information form, take the theory test and pay the fee via the site. Once you’ve passed the theory test, you will need to print the receipt, go to the GDPWT, and take the driving test.

Using an agent is highly advisable if you don’t speak the local language. Going through an agent is always the best option if time is a concern.

These are some of the most popular agents in town:

  • Call Kim: 092 256 388
  • Lucky Lucky: 023 220 988
  • Mon Sinet: 085 540 450
  • Mr. Sna: 089 472 386

At time of writing (December, 2018) all information was correct, but may have changed since. If there’s something you read here which you feel is incorrect or requires updating, please let us know.