Since China has not yet signed the IDP Convention, people holding an international driver’s license cannot drive a motor vehicle in mainland China. In other words, driving a motor vehicle in mainland China requires a Chinese driver’s license. (The driver’s license issued by Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao is invalid)
According to the law of the People’s Republic of China, foreign residents can obtain a Chinese driving license and can convert an international driving license into a Chinese driving license, but they need to pass the test. Temporary driving licenses can now be easily obtained in major cities such as Beijing. You can obtain a Chinese driver’s license directly at Beijing Capital Airport (see below). The procedure for obtaining a regular driver’s license can be very complicated, and the relevant regulations vary from place to place and may be changed over time.
Hong Kong official driver’s license can be directly converted to Chinese licenses without passing any tests, but there are also very strict regulations.
If you want to use an international driver’s license to drive a motor vehicle in China, you should be very careful. Because it is not officially accepted in China. Driving in China without chinese driver license can be fined and detained.
You need a theoretical test when you apply for a formal Chinese driver’s license. Most tourists and overlanders cannot apply for a Chinese official driver’s license. Most tourists and overlanders can only apply for a Chinese temporary driver’s license, because most tourists and overlanders do not meet the conditions for applying for a Chinese official driver’s license. And it’s legal to drive in china by using a Chinese temporary driver’s license.
The following content is for those people who want to apply for a formal driver’s license in China, such as those foreigners who live, live and work in China.
First of all, there is a set of 100-question traffic regulations theory tests, and 90% of the accuracy rate will be marked as pass; if you fail, you can take the second test without paying any additional fees. In major cities, these tests are in Arabic, Russian, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and English, and syllabus can be obtained from the Public Security Traffic Administration, such as www.gzjzd.gov.cn. In smaller places, officials may insist that you do it in Chinese. Some allow you to bring translators; some don’t. Usually, in addition to the translation, the translator will instruct you the correct answer and charge a tip not exceeding 100 RMB.
In general, but not always, if you hold a foreign driving license, you may be exempted from the driving theory test, if you are just applying for a Chinese temporary driver’s license. Most tourists/overlanders can only apply for a Chinese temporary driver’s license.
One possible way for foreigners to obtain a Mainland licence is to take the following actions: in Hong Kong, it costs about $120 to convert your foreign licence into a Hong Kong licence. Then, go to Mainland China (Shenzhen may be the easiest place) and change your Hong Kong license into a Mainland license. Although this might be valid in the past, foreigners will no longer be allowed to convert their Hong Kong licence into a mainland licence unless you hold a Hong Kong identity card, and at the same time it requires seven years’ residence in Hong Kong or you be born in Hong Kong. Anyone, including those born in Hong Kong, who converts a Hong Kong driver’s license into a mainland driver’s license must take a written test.
On January 1, 2013, the new training and examination syllabus for motor vehicle drivers in China began to be implemented. New examination questions have been widely updated, and 90% of them are new. The updated question bank will not be published by the Transportation Authority because it intend that students must learn traffic rules and understand them instead of only remembering the answers to the questions.
Documents required for registration include photographs, drug tests, translations of national driver’s licenses. In addition to drug testing, all other required documents can be prepared in the driving test center.
For example, in Xili District of Shenzhen, this is quite time-consuming and it requires at least two trips to and from the driving test center, so you can find an intermediary agency to help you simplify the process.
The test can be completed in an English environment, and the English translation version of the usual learning topics can also be found on the Internet or mobile App at www.chinesedrivers license test.com.
In some cities, electric scooters are legally regarded as non-motor vehicles. You can register an electric bicycle. You may need a non-motor vehicle license (or not), which is cheaper and easier to obtain than a motorcycle license. You don’t need a driver’s license to drive it. In some cities, the use of electric bicycles is totally prohibited, and the scope of districts in which electric bicycles drive is limited, for example, riding is not allowed on the main road.
Provincial driver’s license can be quickly obtained at the third terminal of Capital International Airport. The following documents need to be prepared:
After completing all these documents, officers of the Traffic Police Department (from 08:30 to 11:00 and from 12:30 to 16:30 on Monday to Sunday) will issue accompanying driving licenses. Expense: Another 10 RMB. The whole process takes about an hour.
Please note: If you are a Turkish, Pakistani and Iranian national, you must go to another office (in the south)!
You are allowed to rent a car in Beijing if you apply the driver’s license at Beijing Airport.
China is right-driving country, in China, traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road.
In the event of an accident, if it’s only a slight scratch, most people just keep driving. If you stop and agree to do something, you can continue driving. Usually the driver who caused the accident pays reasonable compensation to the scraped owner, and the problem is solved. If you disagree, you must not move the vehicle until the police arrive, which may take time. This will also lead to many large-scale traffic jams on the road. They usually check the vehicle registration certificate and driver’s license and take pictures of the accident. If personal injury occurs, you should stop and offer help. The response time of the police may be short or slow.
The speed limit is as follows unless otherwise indicated by the sign:
The maximum speed limit for one-way lanes in cities is 30 km/h (19 miles/h) and 40 km/h (25 miles/h); (not strictly enforced in practice)
The upper limit of speed is 70 km/h (43 miles/h) on the main roads in the city and on the roads with two yellow lines, and 80 km/h (50 miles/h) on the expressways.
The limit speed of the urban expressways is about 100 km/h (62 miles/h) ; some of them 80 km/h.
The upper speed limit is 120 km/h (75 miles/h) (whatever national or provincial level, or national expressways built according to Expressway standards). Some of them are marked as speed limits of 100 km/h or 110 km/h.
The allowable error is about 10 km/h (6 miles/h). The speed limit error of some expressways may reach 20 km/h (12 miles/h); however, within the specified speed limit, any risk of from 15 km/h (9 miles/h) 20 km/h (12 miles/h) is relatively high.
Radar speed zones and speeding cameras can be used to monitor drivers for speeding or other traffic violations.
The penalties for exceeding the speed limit are as follows:
Speed exceeding 10 km/h (6 miles/h) but less than 50% of the speed limit is as high as 200 RMB. For example, if you drive at 100 km/h (62 miles/h) in the speed limit of 80 km/h (50 miles/h).
For example, if you drive at 190 km/h (118 miles/h) on a highway with a speed limit of 120 km/h (75 miles/h), you will be fined 2,000 RMB and driving license revocation for exceeding 50% of the speed limit.
The actual situation of road and road maintenance varies with the municipal government, and the western provinces are worse than the eastern coastal areas and Guangzhou. Since the construction and maintenance of roads are mainly financed by local governments, dramatic changes may be observed across provincial boundaries. The economically developed areas have first-class infrastructure.
On major urban roads, traffic is often congested even on countless urban roundabouts (excluding those on the outskirts of the city). Although there are five ring roads and nine main highways, Beijing is the worst (relatively speaking).
Congestion is much more complex than in the West. There are many pedestrians to deal with. Even in the dark, bicycles can be seen everywhere. In recent years, electric scooters/bicycles have become very popular. The economic boom has enabled many Chinese to own cars, and the number of cars on the roads has increased dramatically. In many areas, there are many motorcycles. Tricycles powered by motorcycle engines are also common. In smaller cities, anything like tractors and bullock carts can be seen!
More information about driving through china
We operate tailor-made Adventure & Tour China for individuals, families and small groups around travellers' time, interests, preferred pace and travel style. We will take you to the major and stunning china highlights as well as further along the road less traveled.
+86 28 8503 0959
Mon - Fri 9.00 - 18.00
No 51, Section 4, South Renmin Road,
Chengdu 610041 China