How to Get a Drivers License (Updated)

HomeForumsGeneral DiscussionHow to Get a Drivers License (Updated)

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 25 total)
  • Author
  • #32672

    I got my driver’s license recently, it wasn’t too difficult but there have been some changes to the procedure. There is a bilingual desk at the office and they have been very helpful.

    Start by studying for the test:
    A new question format has been added for 2013. You will be shown a picture and asked something about it.For example:

    I have not found practice questions of this type in english, but you can practice in chinese here:

    The old questions are still used, there are 898 practice questions in english here:

    But…there have been changes in the laws that are not in these questions. The Feb/March issue of More Chengdu reviews these changes.

    Get your eyes checked and fingers counted at one of these hospitals:

    This service is no longer available at the Vehicle Detection Bureau. Costs 20-30rmb

    Put together this documentation:

    Application form (fill out on the spot or download here:

    • This form is in Chinese
    • You’ll need a chinese name. You can just make one up, but you won’t be able to change it, ever!
    • Fill out with an ink pen, no ball point allowed. I’m not sure whether the color matters, but the pens they provide are black.
    • Provide 4 small pictures of yourself, they will be glued to the form. Mine were 2.5×3.5cm.
    • Original & copy of your visa / residence permit with more than 90 days remainingOriginal & copy of your passport information page
    • Original & copy of accommodation registration form
    • Original & copy of your driver’s license
    • Certified translation of your driver’s license
    • Health check form from above
    • Fee: 110 rmb

    Bring your stuff to the General Service Center at the Vehicle Detection Bureau:

    Google Maps:

    Luckily they just opened Metro line two to Xipu, it’s a short walk from the station (same station as the train to Qingchenshan). You can submit you paperwork and take the test the same day.

    The test is taken in the Education Center, across the road from the General Service Center, 3rd floor. It’s the building with several crashed cars out front. This is the room:

    The best part: you still need to get 90%, but you can take the test as many times as you want, until you pass!

    Good luck!


    This is really helpful info, thanks for assembling it all! The photos and map data make everything really easy.

    My question is, once you have the license, is car rental an option? Have you done that, or know anything about it?


    Yeah, we rented a car for the weekend recently. 200/day unlimited mileage (kilometerage?), 5000 cash deposit, and they are holding onto 2000 for month, just in case I got a ticket from a speed camera.

    And it was totally worth it:

    Kim Duistermaat

    one addition that is perhaps useful: you can only do this in the city where your residence permit is registered. Mine is from Beijing so I will have to go there to do the test.

    Where is the mountain picture taken? It is breathtakingly beautiful!


    Fantastic post. Hopefully this will encourage a few more foreigners who want to drive to go out and get their licence, it really isn’t difficult. I have met a few idiots who are driving here without a licence and therefore completely uninsured. Their justification seems to be that they can get away with it!

    Vincent NL

    I’d like to do this in the summer and have two additional questions.

    1.  Can you do the test with any kind of visa as long as you have more than 90 days left on it? (I’ve got a student visa)

    2. How long is your license valid? Probably much longer than your visa, so I’m guessing a license won’t be a legal ID for foreigners.

    Thanks for summing this up Brian!


    Kim- that’s about 120km west of Wenchuan, in a valley called Liangtaiguo. It’s close to Bipengguo, but the road is not on the map.

    Vince- I don’t think visa type matters. It is valid for 6 years and is not supposed to be ID.

    Everyone else- 1 thing I forgot to post: 028-8785-0000 will ring the info desk

    Kim Duistermaat

    Thanks Brian.
    for Vincent: your visa needs to be valid for more than 3 months, your residence permit needs to be valid for more than 6 months, as I understood it. If you have a shorter residence permit I think you can apply for a temporary drivers license.


    Actually, my residence permit had about 92 days left when I finally got it all together.


    I just got my car drivers license 2 weeks ago.

    It’s pretty much all the same as Brian explained in the first post.
    All the required documents are still the same as far I noticed.

    Maybe I got lucky, but my visa & residence permit only had about 7 weeks left on it, but there was no problem there at all.

    But you can not apply for a car & motorcycle license at the same time.
    They said I could apply for that after 1 year. So now I only got the car category. And as I do not have it on my original drivers license, I would need to take lessons and then do a practical exam 🙁

    We will find out about that in a year or so.

    I used this app on my iphone.

    Most of the questions in the app, used the same or very similar wording in the exam. I would say there is an 80% match between the questions in the app and the actual exam.
    One more tip:

    Make sure you arrive on time. Exams in the morning run from like 9:00 till 11:15. An exam takes maximum 45 mins, so I guess after 10:30 you are not allowed to do the test in the morning anymore.

    I arrived around that time and was told to wait till 13:30, after all the bureaucrats had taken their mandatory nap, to take the afternoon test.

    With nothing to do around there and only one small noodle shop, it is a long long boring wait. But gave me time to practise the questions on my phone.



    And don’t forget to take a picture of the very motivating cars out front of the test center!


    Yes.But your visa must be come from Chengdu.


    Yes.But your visa must be come from Chengdu.

    I guess that makes sense, never really thought about that.

    Gary Daniels

    Many thanks Brian and J. Slemmer for this guide and update. Your posts were very useful. I taken my test two weeks ago and there are a couple of things I want to add to the list above for anyone who intends to take the test in the future.

    I didn’t need to fill out a form. It is all done of the computer now and they print it out and you sign it with your new Chinese name. Like Brian said, you need a Chinese name so, if you haven’t already, make sure you decide on one before you go to the test centre.

    You do need a copy and your original passport and visa. I am unsure about the 90 days thing. I certainly didn’t have 90 days on my visa. I had little over 30 days left but I did not encounter any problem. Perhaps this requirement has changed but, of course, I can’t be certain – maybe I was just fortunate.

    Like Brian said, you need the original & copy of your accommodation registration form. However, foolishly I forgot mine. Given that Xipu is quite a long way, I wasn’t keen on having a wasted journey so again, maybe I was just fortunate, but I chatted with a supervisor who was able to find in the computer system and print my accommodation registration form. After all, it is just another branch of the PBS. Nevertheless, I would advice that you get this before you go as you might not be as lucky as I was.

    In terms of your translated home driver’s licence, I got mine done in one of the shops facing the US Consulate. It cost 180rmb. I also got my four photos for the application process there too at the same time so the total cost was 200rmb. They will take a copy of your licence as well as attach the translation. Don’t forget, you will still need your original licence with you at the test centre.

    In terms of the health check, this is very easy. I think pretty much every hospital has this service – I went to the military hospital (5th floor) near the Waterfront. It costs 30rmb and you have a quick eye test and they take a photo of you holding your hands up to prove that you have two hands :-). Please note that this service is only available Monday to Friday (datyime). Similarly, the test centre only processes applications weekdays too.

    The fee at the test centre is still 110 rmb that you pay once you have gone through the application process ahead of taking the test.

    With regards to the test itself, it is relatively straight forward. The most difficult part is understanding the Chinglish and the fact that the invigilators chat to each other very loudly, which for me was a big distraction.

    For revision, I found the following website invaluable –

    This will stand you in good stead for the test but beware that not all the questions that come up in the test are on this website. Nevertheless, I reckon about 90% of them are.

    I failed on my first attempt – I scored 88. You need to score a minimum of 90. However, I was able to retake it without even leaving my seat and, on the second attempt, I got 92 so I passed. You then wait outside the test room for a few minutes before you are called in to receive a piece of paper that you take back to the administration centre to collect your licence.

    You are give 45 minutes to complete the test. This is more than enough. In fact, I taken about 20 minutes to complete the first test and, taking a little bit more care on the second attempt, I taken about 25 minutes.

    Anyway, just to say, there is nothing too difficult about the whole process. It is just a little time consuming. Do make sure you revise for 2 hours daily for around 3 or 4 days before you plan to go the test centre.

    Best of luck!



    Gary, thanks for the update. So, in your case at least, you didn’t need a residence permit? I have the accommodation form, 1 semester student visa, etc etc. But b/c my visa is only 170 days, they didn’t give me a residence permit, saying that only 180+ student visas are granted those. I’d appreciate some clarification on this front. Thanks!

    Gary Daniels

    Hi Justin,

    I am not sure I am the best person to help on this as I’m not familiar with student visas and I am not absolutely sure what a resident permit is. I have had a work permit for over 6 years (renewed annually of course) and, with this, I get a visa from the PSB (I presume this is what people call a residence visa but I am not really sure).

    I am sure, however, that someone else on this forum will be able to help. Maybe best to start a different thread on visa/permits/lengths etc.

    All the best, Gary


    Gary, thanks for the update. So, in your case at least, you didn’t need a residence permit? I have the accommodation form, 1 semester student visa, etc etc. But b/c my visa is only 170 days, they didn’t give me a residence permit, saying that only 180+ student visas are granted those. I’d appreciate some clarification on this front. Thanks!


    I think what you might mean is a foreign expert permit, which is a Z-visa that entitles you to live and work in China. Other visas can also certify you to live and work in China (depending on the type) and to my knowledge those work equally well for getting a drivers license in Chengdu. There may be rules which prevent things like full-time students from getting a drivers license, but I have never heard of it and it has not been discussed or mentioned here. As far as I know, if you are legal to be in China, then you are able to apply for a drivers license and be awarded the license if you meet all the various requirements.


    When I got my license two years ago they didn’t seem to care what type of visa or residence permit people were holding – I was on either tourist or F (no residence permit) and got mine without any problems. They might give you trouble if there’s only a few days left on your visa, I could imagine though.

    Like I said, that was 2 years ago, may be different now.

    Get someone who speaks Chinese to give them a call!


    Today I just got my license in Chengdu. First thanks for all the advises from this forum. And then new tips:

    – Now they have also other european languages, like Spanish.

    – About the VISA issue, mine was student Visa with just 3 months to expire, so…

    – For non-american maybe it is not such as easy, we have different laws or signals on the road. So I failled first time, but them I got 96 points but I spent more time than usual.

    – For study I used to use these websites:

    Also the app for the iphone that others recommend here.


    Good luck for all!


    Graeme S

    Just to add, I got my license last year and it is pretty much exactly as Gary states. I was also able to get my motorbike license and driving license on the same day by just passing the one test.

    To anyone thinking about it then my advice would be to use one of the resources listed above (I used even if it is to get used to the Chinglish. It’s relatively easy and totally worth getting your license here. Hiring a car is easy enough if you don’t want to buy and will save you the maintenance after you have been out on the roads in the mountains!

    Good luck!

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 25 total)
  • The forum ‘General Discussion’ is closed to new topics and replies.