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How to drive in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong has a very well-developed transportation system: from ferries to tramways and buses to MTR, getting around the city is easy and convenient. However, nothing truly compares to the comfort of driving your own car. Can expats drive in Hong Kong and can you use your original driving licence? If the city’s dense traffic does not scare you, here’s what you need to know about getting a Hong Kong driver’s licence.

While driving is generally a great way to get around, Hong Kong has one of the highest concentrations of vehicles in the world. This means frequent traffic jams and a rather slow driving commute speed.

Foreign nationals driving in Hong Kong

In general, foreign nationals are allowed to drive in Hong Kong provided they have a valid driver's licence. Those with valid foreign licenses from the countries below can receive a Hong Kong full driving licence without taking the test. You can apply for a full licence directly if you are a resident of: the UK, the US, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

You will need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • You need to possess a valid driver’s licence from your country of previous residence;
  • You need to have resided in the country that had issued your driver’s licence for no less than 6 months; and
  • You must hold your current driver’s licence for at least five years prior to the application.

If you meet all the requirements, get the following documents ready:

  • Duly completed application form (TD36A)
  • HK ID card or passport
  • Your overseas driver’s licence and official translation (if it’s not in English)
  • Proof of address issued within the last 3 months
  • Medical examination certificate (for senior applicants)

You will need to submit the above documents to the nearest Licensing Office (you can find a Licensing Office in Hong Kong Central, Kowloon, Kwun Tong and Sha Tin). Please not that there are applicable fees.

Temporary driver’s license

If your driver’s licence cannot be exchanged for a Hong Kong driver’s licene, you will need to take a driving test. However, in the meantime, you can apply for a temporary driver’s licence.

The requirements and the documents needed to apply for a temporary licence are similar to those needed for a full licence: you must have resided in the country that had issued your original driver’s license for at least six months; you must hold the licence for at least five years. The needed documents are:

  • A duly filled in application form (TD181)
  • HK ID card
  • Relevant travel documents
  • Your original driver’s licence official translation (if the driver’s license is not in English)
  • Proof of address within the last three months
  • Medical exam certificate for senior applicants

As with the full licence, there are applicable fees.

Learner’s driving license

If you’ve never held a driver’s licence before, you will need to apply for a learner’s driving licence prior to taking the driving test. To apply, you will need to complete a TD555 form and submit it together with the supporting documents (HK ID card, proof of residence and fees) at the nearest Licensing Office.

 Good to know:

Drivers in training are only to allowed to drive at specific times of day and should have an “L” sign fitted onto their vehicle.

Driving test

The driving test in Hong Kong consists of two parts: a multiple choice written test and a road test.

When you are ready to take the driving test, you will need to submit a filled in TD82 form and make a driving test appointment. You can send the documents to a Licensing Office by mail or in person.

Probationary driver’s license

After you have passed the driving test, you will need to apply for a probationary driver’s license within 3 years. The probation period is 12 months.

To apply for a probationary driver’s licence you will need to submit a TD590 form and submit it at the Licensing Office together with the supporting documents (HK ID card, proof of address and fees).

Full driving license

Once you have completed your 12 months probation period, you can apply for a full driving licence. Complete your final application form (TD557), get together the already familiar set of supporting documents (HK ID card or passport, proof of address, original driving test form and payment for the license) and submit the paperwork to the Licensing Office.

 Useful links:

Hong Kong Transports Department – Driver's licence
Hong Kong Transports Department – Administrative fees
TD555 Form – Learner's permit
TD82 Form – Registering for the driving examinations
TD590 Form – Probationary driver's licence
TD557 Form – Full driver's licence
TD63A Form – Full driver's licence for foreigners holding a foreign driver's licence
TD181 Form – Temporary driver's licence
TD256 Form (bilingual) – Medical examination

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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