Foreigners who drive in Cambodia may or may not legally required to have a Cambodian license. Really!
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. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear if this also applies to foreigners. 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. Note that an International Driver’s License is not recognized in Cambodia. Also note that 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.
There are seven types of licenses in Cambodia. The non-industrial ones are:
A1: For 49-125cc motorcycles and scooters
A2: For motorcycles larger than 125cc
B: For passenger vehicles (less than 9 passengers)
License B also permits the holder to drive motorcycles under 125cc, but an A2 license is still required for larger motorcycles.
What you need to apply for a Cambodian driver’s license:
- 5 passport photos
- Passport with current visa
- Valid driver’s license from your home country
- Fee in US dollars, $35 (although agents may charge an additional fee of up to $20)
- If your license is not in English or French, a translated copy notarized by your embassy
Where to apply for a Cambodian driving license. To apply for a Cambodian driving license, you can do it the official way or use an agent.
The Department of Public Works and Transport can issue driver’s licenses that are valid for one year for $35. The turnaround time is usually remarkably fast, sometimes just 24 hours. You will get a provisional license first, and then a month later will get your “real” license. Five-year licenses are no longer available for foreigners.
The Department of Public Works and Transport
106 Preah Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh
Tel : 023 427 845: 023 427 862
Most expats choose to not apply this way, however, and use an agent instead. The most popular agent for driver’s licenses is Lucky! Lucky!, which also rent motos by the day or month. If you don’t have a driving license from your home country, Lucky! Lucky! can also help you get set up with classes (if you’d like) for taking the test to get a Cambodian license.
413 Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh
Tel: 023 220 988; 023 212 788; 099 808 788
The Cambodian government has announced that in 2017, it will be possible to apply for and renew driver’s licenses online.
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.
This is an excerpt from Move to Cambodia: A guide to living and working in the Kingdom of Wonder. To learn more about 100+ topics that pertain to Cambodia expats, please consider buying the book.