If you’re planning on driving a car in Cambodia, you should probably get a driving license.
Although many expats don’t bother, if you’re planning to drive in Cambodia it makes sense to get a Cambodian driver’s license. Trust us, it’s not difficult and can save you a lot of hassle and fines further down the line.
The laws changed on January 1st, 2016 and now drivers who are driving motos that are 125cc or smaller do not need a license. Many expats don’t bother to get a license, and just pay (or avoid) the fines when they are stopped. But getting a driver’s license in Cambodia isn’t very difficult, and although the fines for driving without one are currently small, in the future the penalties for driving without a license will likely be more severe. Also, if you get into an accident while driving without a valid Cambodian license, most health insurance and travel insurance companies will not cover your claim.
Note that an International Driver’s License is not recognized in Cambodia.
Types of Cambodia driving licenses:
There are seven types of licenses in Cambodia. The non-industrial ones are:
A1: For 49-125cc motorcycles and scooters (As of December, 2016, a driving license is not needed for motorcycles and scooters up to 125ccs)
A: For motorcycles larger than 125cc
B: For passenger vehicles (less than 9 passengers)
One who holds a License B is still required to get an ‘A’ License if they also want to drive larger motorcycles.
There are also difference license types in terms of length. If you hold a license in your home country, you can do a “transfer” and get a one-year license in Cambodia without taking a driving test. It takes about two hours and you’ll have to do it again each year. There are also 10-year driving licenses available for those who pass a written and practical driving exam.
What you need to apply for a 1-year Cambodian driver’s license
- 2 or 8 passport photos against a white background (2 to apply at Aeon 2, 8 to apply at the GDoPWaT)
- Passport with current visa (must have at least 6 weeks left)
- Valid driver’s license from your home country
- Letter your local Sangkat confirming your place of residence*
- 30,000 riel fee
- Eye test (completed at licensing office for 10,000 riel)
- If your license is not in English or French, a translated copy notarized by your embassy
Where to apply for a 1-year Cambodian driving license
There are now two places you can apply for a 1-year Cambodian driving license, the new Aeon Mall, also called Aeon 2 or Aeon Sen Sok, or the General Department of Public Works and Transport in Phnom Penh.
Only Cambodians can take advantage of the more convenient option at the original Aeon Mall.
Driver’s License Service Center
Aeon Mall 2, Sen Sok City, 2nd Floor, next to Post Office [map]
Street 1003, Phum Bayab, Tuol Kork, Phnom Penh
How to apply for a 1-year Cambodia driver’s license
At Aeon Mall 2 – Sen Sok City
By all accounts, this is the faster, easier option. Head to the 2nd floor (3rd if you’re American) to the ‘Driver’s License Service Center’ next to the Cambodia Post Office. You’ll have to show your documents and take an eye test. The eye test will need to be paid in cash and the license fee will be paid by WING or Smart Luy, which costs 1,000 riel. There are usually staff on duty who speak English, and the process usually takes less than an hour.
At the General Department of Public Works and Transport
Once at the General Department of Public Works and Transport you will need to present your license from your home country (and notarized translation, if required). You will then be directed to the next building where they will photocopy your license, visa, and passport. You’ll then go to the next building for an eye test. The doctor usually on duty speaks English. The test costs 10,000 riel, and you’ll be given a receipt to take back to the licensing office.
Once back at the licensing office, you’ll have to show all of your documents and photocopies of documents to several people who will have to sign off on them. They will check the Sangkat letter closely to make sure the information on it, such as your passport details and visa number, are correct. If everyone signs off, you’ll then be directed to a WING booth outside the office, near the eye test building. The cost is 30,000 riel, and if you pay in dollars you’ll need to pay a small surcharge of about 1,000 riel. Once paid, you’ll be issued a receipt to take back to the office where you’ll be issued a receipt. The whole process can take anywhere between 60 minutes and all day.
Things to know before you go
*Your residency letter must explicity say that it has been issued for the purpose of applying for a driver’s license (so you cannot re-use your work permit residency letter). Make sure to have your residency letter checked carefully. If anything, such as your name, birthdate, nationality, address, or visa number, is incorrect, you will be sent back to your local Sangkat for a new one, even if that happens to be in Siem Reap. The staff at the General Department of Public Works and Transport are particularly stringent when it comes to the residency letter.
The licensing office closes from 11:30 a.m. to around 2 p.m. each day for lunch, so be sure to get there early to start the process, which takes an hour or two, or you will have to come back in the afternoon.
If you do not have a driver’s license in another country, you will need to pass an exam through a driving school before being able to apply for a Cambodian license.