China Driving Licence or Driver Permit

China Driving Licence : Getting a driver’s license in China can seem daunting, but it’s an important step to gain the freedom of driving in this vast country.

Here is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about obtaining a driver’s license in China, including eligibility requirements, documents needed, the testing and application process, license renewal, and more.

Eligibility for a Chinese Driver’s License

To be eligible for a driver’s license in China, you must:

  • Be a minimum of 18 years old.
  • Pass the written exam and road test. Foreigners take the test in English or other select languages.
  • Provide the required documentation (see below).
  • Have a valid Chinese visa or residence permit valid for at least 90 days.
  • Get a physical exam and complete a health check report.
  • Hold a valid foreign driver’s license if you want to exchange it for a Chinese license.

Required Documents for License Application

You will need to provide these documents when applying for a Chinese driver’s license:

  • Valid passport.
  • Valid Chinese visa or residence permit valid for at least 90 days.
  • Completed physical exam report from an authorized health center.
  • Proof of temporary or permanent local address in China.
  • One passport-size photo with a red background.
  • If exchanging a foreign license, must provide original valid foreign driver’s license.

Taking the Written Test for Chinese Driver’s License

The written test covers road signs, traffic laws, and safety principles. Here are some tips for taking the written driver’s test in China:

  • Study the driver’s manual and road signs ahead of time. Many questions test this knowledge.
  • Pay attention to speed limits, alcohol limits, fines and penalties.
  • the test is offered in multiple languages, so take it in the language you are most comfortable.
  • Arrive early and bring your passport, health check report and other documents.
  • There are over 50 questions and you must score at least 90% to pass.
  • If you fail, you can retake the test after 5 working days.

Passing the Driving Test in China

To get your license, you must pass a driving test to show you can properly operate a vehicle. Here are some driving test tips:

  • Schedule an appointment and bring all required paperwork.
  • Vehicles for the test are provided by the testing center. You cannot use your own vehicle.
  • An inspector will accompany you to test driving skills like turn signals, parking, lane changes, speed control.
  • Obey all traffic laws and drive defensively. Stay calm under pressure.
  • The testing routes are about 15-20 minutes long through city streets.
  • You can take the driving test up to 3 times if you don’t pass initially.

Exchanging a Foreign Driver’s License

If you hold a valid driver’s license from your home country, you may be able to exchange it for a Chinese license without taking the exams. However, this option is only available in certain cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

The requirements for exchanging a foreign license include:

  • You must have held the foreign license for at least 3 years.
  • The license must be valid for at least 90 days from your arrival in China.
  • You must submit the original foreign license and a certified translation in Chinese.
  • You still need to get a health check and provide the other required documents.

This license exchange process can save considerable time and effort over taking the written and road exams in China.

Application Process for a Chinese Driver’s License

Follow these steps when applying for your Chinese driver’s license:

  1. Choose the right license processing center and make an appointment online or in person.
  2. Study for and schedule your written exam if required.
  3. Complete your health check exam at an authorized hospital or clinic.
  4. Gather all required documents like passport, proof of address, exam results.
  5. Pay the license application fee, which is around CNY 200-400 depending on location.
  6. Get your photo taken at the license processing center.
  7. Submit your application and wait approximately 7 business days for processing.
  8. Return on the designated date to receive your new plastic driver’s license!

Renewing a Chinese Driver’s License

Driver’s licenses in China are valid for different lengths, but generally need to be renewed every 10 years. Here is the process to renew your Chinese driver’s license:

  • Licenses can be renewed starting 90 days before expiration.
  • Bring your old license, passport, proof of residence, and 2 passport photos to the application center.
  • Complete a vision test and basic health exam if you are over 70.
  • Pay the renewal application fee, around CNY 200.
  • Your new license will be issued in 5-7 working days.
  • Fines apply for late renewals past the expiration date.

Replacing a Lost or Damaged Chinese Driver’s License

If your driver’s license is lost, stolen or too damaged to use, you must replace it within 30 days. Here is how to replace your Chinese driver’s license:

  • Report the loss to the police and get a proof of loss certificate.
  • Bring the police report, passport, residence permit, and photos to the license center.
  • Pay the replacement fee around CNY 200.
  • Once approved, you will receive a new driver’s license within 7 business days.

Changing the Address on Your Chinese Driver’s License

If you move to a new residence in China, you must update your driver’s license address within 30 days. Follow this simple process:

  • Bring your current license, passport, new proof of residence, and photos.
  • Submit to the license processing center a change of address application form.
  • Pay the address change fee, around CNY 30-50.
  • You will receive a new license within 7 working days with updated address.

Traffic Rules, Violations and Fines in China

China has adopted strict traffic laws with substantial penalties. Here are some key traffic violations and fines to avoid:

  • Running a red light – CNY 200 fine and 6 points deducted.
  • Speeding – Fines from CNY 50 up to CNY 2000 depending on excess speed.
  • Drunk driving – Suspension of license, 15 day detention, fines up to CNY 2000
  • Reckless driving – Fines up to CNY 2000 and license suspensions.
  • No license plates – Up to CNY 2000 fine.
  • Driving without a license – Up to CNY 5000 fine and detention up to 15 days.

Fines can be paid at local police traffic management bureaus within 60 days. Failure to pay may result in criminal charges.

FAQs on China Driving Licence

1. Do I need an International Driving Permit to drive in China?

No, an International Driving Permit is not mandatory, but it can be useful along with your home driver’s license for short visits. For stays over 90 days, you need to get a local Chinese driver’s license.

2. What vehicles can I drive with a Chinese license?

A regular Chinese license allows you to drive passenger vehicles up to 9 seats. Additional licenses are required for motorcycles, commercial vehicles, and heavy trucks.

3. Is my Chinese driver’s license valid in other countries?

No, a Chinese driver’s license is not valid for driving in other countries. You would need an International Driving Permit along with your Chinese license when traveling abroad.

4. Can I get a Chinese license if I wear glasses or contacts?

Yes, you can obtain a Chinese driver’s license if you have vision corrected by glasses or contacts. You may need an eye test for the health check report.

5. How long is the Chinese driver’s license valid for?

Chinese licenses are generally valid for 10 years before requiring renewal. Some provinces issue short-term licenses that must be renewed more frequently. Check your license for the expiration date.


Obtaining your driver’s license is a milestone achievement in China. While the process involves exams, health checks and paperwork, this guide outlines all the steps from eligibility criteria to renewal procedures. Understanding the traffic rules and fines is also key to staying safe on the roads. With preparation and diligence, you can get your Chinese license to enjoy the freedom of driving.