Here’s how to get a HK driving license from scratch, as well as info on how to transfer your international driving license for use in HK, and a tip for getting an Drivers Permit for use anywhere in the world… all in one handy article. You’re welcome my lovelies! Lets drive….
Firstly, for the record, I’m not a driving instructor or in any way affiliated with the HK Transport department. I’m just a media gal and corsetry designer who decided it would be wonderful to explore more of old Hong Kong with the freedom that a nice little convertible allows (her name is Bluey).
You’re probably reading this if – like me – you found a lot of chatter and vague hearsay about driving license testing in HK, but not much solid info.
Hopefully this is all the info you’ll need to get your HK driving license.
If you find this helpful or have any experiences to share, please leave a comment for others to help them on their way.
Hong Kong is perfectly easy to live in long term without a car – it’s not a necessity in a city with such efficient public transport and for many it’s far more cost effective not to have a car.
But hey ho, I wanted to live the sweet summer freedom experience and noticed there was not a lot of friendly, linear info on getting a HK Drivers License online, so decided simply to make notes, research and share what I learned on my own journey – as I do with most articles here on TheCuriousRaven.
PART 1 : HONG KONG DRIVERS LICENSE FROM SCRATCH
PART 2 : DRIVING IN HK FOR OVERSEAS DRIVING LICENSE HOLDERS
PART 3 : INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT (FORM HERE)
All Transport Department info on driving licenses and permits in Hong Kong is HERE.
PART 1 : HONG KONG DRIVERS LICENSE FROM SCRATCH
No other license or previous license expired over 3 years.
- Go to nearest licensing office with required documents (HKID/Passport, PROOF OF ADDRESS, and pre-downloaded application form (which you can also get at the information counter of the licensing office.) Incorrect proof of address = they’ll likely refuse you, so bring the correct documents!
- At licensing office, take completed form and documents to relevant counter to apply for L license and written test date (my soonest date was approx 1 mth from application date) and pay HK$510+HK$548 fees by cash/ Visa or Mastercard/ EPS. Take the Road Users Code book and your green L license and start getting driving lessons.
- Study Road Users Code book thoroughly, including pedestrian, cyslist, load topics. There’s a high fail rate, so be diligent.
Either apply online for to road test dates or wait for road test date given after passing your written test.
- Sit for written test. It is very specific ‘tricky’ multiple choice with immediate Pass / Fail results given. Frankly, just overprepare, why not.
If passed, road test test dates can be given. The Transport Department recommends learner drivers without any driving experience to have at least 30 hours of training before taking the test, although there is apparently no legal minimum, so you can start racking those hours up anytime after getting the green L License.
- Do the online mock tests available – here’s one from the HK School of Motoring and one from Kwun Tong Driving School.
Continue driving lessons to get fully comfortable with the mad / random drivers of Hong Kong and try to drive around testing areas if possible.
Complete the road test and then drive with P license for 1 year. Then apply for full license and perhaps if you’ve a HKID, apply for your International Driving Permit so you won’t have to do this again in other countries.
Once you have passed your driving tests, you can approach the Licensing Office of the Transport Department after 7 working days (up to max 3yrs) from the date of passing the driving test to apply for a probationary or full driving licence. Please consult the staff of the Licensing Office the relevant application form for applying a probationary / full driving licence for the respective driving entitlement(s). Upon submission of your application, your identity document, original of Test Form (not applicable to: (a) renewal of full driving licence; and (b) first issue of or addition of driving entitlement to full driving licence after completion of the probationary driving period), address proof and original of Learner’s Driving Licence (if any), if any, have to be produced and you have to pay the appropriate licence fee.
If you already hold a valid full driving licence and have passed driving test of an additional entitlement, please complete the relevant application form to apply for an extension of your driving licence to cover additional driving entitlement(s). Your identity document, original of Test Form (not applicable to: (a) renewal of full driving licence; and (b) first issue of or addition of driving entitlement to full driving licence after completion of the probationary driving period) and Driving Licence have to be submitted together with the application form. A new full driving licence will then be issued to you free of charge.
|Type of Licence||Fee (HK$)|
|(a) For applicants aged 60 or below
Validity Period : 10 years
PROCESS RUN THROUGH (detailed version – skip if not relevant).
Because I live near Central I went to the Admiralty Licensing office to apply for the written test for non-commercial vehicle (private car) – info HERE.
After getting the absurdly long windedly named form : “Application for a Driving Test (Private Car, Light Goods Vehicle, Motor Cycle and Motor Tricycle” (form no. TD 82 downloadable HERE) – which I was given at the information counter, I filled it out and then went to another counter to apply for the written test.
To apply I took my HKID (or passport if you don’t have a HKID), proof of address
IMPORTANT NOTE : If you don’t take the correct proof of address they will NOT allow you to apply. So be sure to take only recent bills or issuings from a bank or government entity sent within the last 3 months!! Seriously – proof of address details HERE. When I walked in the entry there was a massive 7 foot sign pretty much saying GO AWAY IF YOU DON’T HAVE CORRECT PROOF OF ADDRESS. Okay not verbatim but that was pretty much the gist.
Applicants are required to produce proof of present address (residential address and correspondence address). Transport Department may suspend the processing of licensing applications until the production of address proof.
At the counter I had to request and pay for two parts of this license process (Cash / EPS / Visa + Mastercard accepted) :
1. Ask to apply for my Learners permit / license (HK$548) (which is used to be eligible to take driving lessons and needs to be shown to the driving instructor) and to apply and
2. Ask to apply for a written test date and pay for written driving test application (HK$510).
I was informed that I’d be told the date I could take my road test after passing the written test, but I also noticed you can book your road testing date HERE and you can see the updated waiting list time of driving tests HERE. However, when I tried in online booking to select ‘Driving Test Appointment Booking’ it showed an error message : ‘Your browser does not support Java plug-in‘ so I think I’ll just have my test date given to me at the written test passing.
The earliest written test date was approx 1 mth away so I chose that and was given my little green Learners License on the spot. I was really fortunate to have a very cheerful young lady helping me, and the guy at the information counter was also quite helpful – so either they’ve got pretty good staff in there or my incessant Cheshire Cat grin strategy is yielding good results.
Then its just study study for me – I bumped into someone who had just taken their test and they said there were questions in there about passengers and pedestrians and checks and load so recommended just to study the book from front to back and few times and not miss any parts. Another friend recommended that I watch videos on the written test but I couldn’t find any (though I did find a neat little video from the Transport Department – posted all the way at the bottom of this article.)
I read through the book once, which took much longer than anticipated – it’s skinny but so densely packed. Then I did the Kwun Tong Driving School mock test a load of times – usually getting 17-18 out of 20 because of very specific questions. I kept repeating the test to equip myself with the technical questions you need to know such as :
BREATH – 22mg per 100ml
BLOOD – 50ml per 100ml
URINE – 67mg per 100ml
STOPPING DISTANCE = Thinking Distance + Braking Distance
40km/h = 10td + 10sd (20m total)
60km/h = 15td + 20sd (35m total)
80km/h = 20td + 40sd (60m total)
LOADS (Long vehicles & towing)
Load must have a RED FLAG not less than 1 square meter at the rear extremity.
DARKNESS : require white light on each side of front of load, and a red light at rear of load. (Same with cyclists!)
Load must not :
Extend front more than 1.5 metres
Extend back more than 1.4 metres
Be over 2.5 metres width
Be higher than 4.6 metres off the road surface
TOW must NOT – have a gap greater than 4.5 metres.
TOW must – have ‘on tow’ sign 150mm lettering white on black background.
As well as tunnel and accident questions. I got one mock question about stopping sign post colours. (They’re grey, red, yellow or green and mean different times). You’ll see when you do the mock tests. Reading the book should equip you well with all the road signs and markings, and if you’re not passing the test at least 15/16 out of 20 with ease then you need to re-read the book properly because your safety (and ours) is at risk if you try to drive without knowing this stuff! You’ll be way more confident for the practical test knowing all this stuff anyways.
You got this – it’s fairly familiar and just takes a bit of re-reading or highlighting.
Hong Kong Licensing Office, 3/F, United Centre, 95 Queensway, Hong Kong. (near Exit D of Admiralty MTR Station) Other licensing office locations HERE and all office hours below.
|Monday to Friday||9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (open during lunch hours)|
|The Offices will be closed on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays.|
Application Procedure (From Transport Dept).
“Before you submit your application, you must obtain the “Application for a Driving Test (Private Car, Light Goods Vehicle, Motor Cycle and Motor Tricycle” first (form no. TD 82). After you have completed the application form, please submit it with the fee for driving test ($510) to the above licensing offices. You will be given an appointment letter. You can then sit for your driving test according to the date and venue printed on the appointment letter. Repeaters of driving test (non-commercial vehicle) can re-apply for a driving test either following the above procedures or through the GovHK Online Booking for Driving Tests with effect from 20 January 2008. You may apply for driving tests in conjunction with your application for learner’s driving licences, if necessary, and submit your application of learner’s driving licence (form no. TD 555) together with your application for a driving test. These forms are available at any of the licensing offices of the Transport Department, the Home Affairs Department Public Enquiry Service Centres, Post Offices, or through the Enquiry Hotline (852)2804 2600 to obtain a fax copy.”
Have valid drivers license from another country OR have a recently expired license from another country
If you’re a driver from another country and have had your FULL license for over 5 years, you can just flip your licence over to a HK license with ease at the HK Licensing office in Admiralty (address listed previously above). Possibly even if your license has been expired (for less than 3 years). But not if you’re on Probationary license.
You need to bring a few more things than just applying for a new license so check the info list below and remember to make sure that your certifications and proof of address are valid or they could refuse to process your license.
It’s easiest just to make sure you’re very thorough with the checklist.
All the information for overseas driving licenses is HERE.
The official Transport Department link on Driving Tests is HERE.
PART 3 : INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT (FORM HERE)
This is a handy permit for overseas travel / driving that needs to be presented together with your drivers license. Personally I will be getting one so I can drive in the UK/ USA/ Canada with peace of mind when I visit. It serves as a form of ID and, like the APEC business travel card (which in theory allows business travel without the need for a visa if pre-clearance has been granted) the IDP is just a useful thing to know about and have.
- driving licences issued by a Contracting Party shall be recognised in the territory of another Contracting Party until this territory becomes the place of normal residence of their holder.
According to an older article from AAA.com (and HK is mentioned in there):
How will I benefit by carrying an International Driving Permit on my next overseas trip?
The International Driving Permit (IDP) is a document that provides important information from your driver’s license in eleven different languages, including English. This document came into existence by virtue of a treaty signed in 1949 by the United States and other foreign countries. As an official document, the IDP is recognized in over 150 countries today. Carried in conjunction with a regular drivers license, the IDP can help break down language barriers when traveling in non-English speaking countries. In addition, the IDP provides an additional source of identification. The charge for an IDP is a small price to pay for such peace of mind.
For HK$80- with application form + a copy of our HKID and 2 passport photos in 40x50mm and proof of address (as usual).
As Wikipedia tells us : ‘An International Driving Permit (IDP) is an identity document that allows the holder to drive a private motor vehicle in any country that recognises IDPs. To be valid, the IDP must be accompanied by a valid driving licence.’
“If you are Hong Kong resident holding a Hong Kong full driving licence and wish to drive abroad, you may apply for issue of an International Driving Permit (IDP). You should complete an application form TD51 and submit it to any licensing office together with two new and recent photographs and the required fee. The permit will be issued to you if you are a resident in Hong Kong and hold a valid Hong Kong full driving licence. Please note that the permit is valid for one year from the date of issue.
IDP is issued in accordance with the 1949 Convention. The permit should be valid for driving in the territory of all the contracting countries/places [please see the application form TD51]. But there may be differences or changes in the policy or conditions of using an IDP to drive the contracting countries/places concerned, applicants are suggested to make enquires to the Consulates or resident offices of the countries/places concerned for details before making application for an IDP or before driving in the countries/places concerned.”
4.9 Driving Abroad with International Driving Permit
DEFENSIVE DRIVING :
The HK School of Motoring offers Defensive Driving courses HERE.
You’ll be guided through skid training and other safety techniques.
My mother did this course when she got her HK driving license and for many years has said it’s the best thing she’s ever done for her driving safety – on more than one occasion over the decades she’s been driving internationally, the skid safety she learnt here has saved not only her – but us kids in the back of the car – from potentially nasty accidents. Especially in rain and black ice situations. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The HK School of Motoring also offers a ‘Golden Access Driving Course’ designed to improve your driving skills in the following areas :
- Expressway Driving Tips
- Accident Handling Must-know
- Rainy Weather Must-know
- Emergency Breakdown Handling
- Traffic Black Spots
- Traffic Regulations & Driving Offense Points System
- Safety Devices of Vehicles
- Vehicle Trouble Shooting & Prevention
- Effects & Dangers of Drink Driving
I haven’t tried or heard of this so can’t recommend. But I think I’m just going to look into learning some rally driving myself…
And here’s a link to the Hong Kong Automobile Association for anyone who wants to get their license and is interested in a bit of racing.
And a link to Sideways Driving Club for those who want a safer ‘real’ driving experience in the most vivid simulator in Hong Kong.
LIST OF SCHOOLS :
Here is the official government information on driving instructors in Hong Kong.
And the direct link to the PDF with all the contact information of driving schools and private instructors in HK.
Here is a useful video I found from the Transport Department :
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