International driving licence holders don’t require permit in Laos

International Driving License

Foreign drivers who hold international driving licences can drive in Laos without permission from police and relevant sectors, a transport official said.

Those who hold international licences do not need to seek any permission before driving in the country, Director of the Department of Transport’s Traffic Management Division Mr Somnuk Mektakul said.

Mr Somnuk made the clarification in response to some foreigners being reluctant to drive in Laos because they thought they needed to apply for a special local licence.

“Drivers who hold international driving licences can inform us if they are fined while driving in Laos,” he said.

He said Laos would issue temporary licences to foreigners living or working in the country for longer periods of time but they would have to provide clear details about where they lived and were employed. But he said this kind of licence was only valid inside Laos.

He said foriengers often had two licences – one local and one international – so they could easily move or travel.

Mr Somnuk said in his experience asking people from other countries to translate their own driving licences was considered unacceptable as it violated their privacy.

To provide convenience for people from all nations, Laos also allows foreigners to take a driving test within the country to obtain a domestic licence.

Lao people are also confused as to whether they are allowed drive in other countries.

Mr Somnuk said the government had signed bilateral agreements with Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia that allowed drivers from those countries to drive freely in Laos as long as their licences were officially translated into English. He said the same applied for Lao people driving in those countries.

“As long as their names and details match their passports, and more importantly their licences have been officially approved and translated into English, they have the right to drive,” he said.

But he said some Lao police officers still had limited English and so sometimes struggled to read the translated licences.

As Laos is a signatory to the United Nations’ Road Traffic Convention, Lao drivers who obtain international licences will be able to drive overseas in other countries that have signed the convention.


Vientiane Times,
03 June, 2014

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