Get Your Temporary Driving License for China

Unfortunately, China does not recognize any international or foreign driver’s license, even those issued in Hong Kong or Macau. For foreigners from any country that want to drive in China, they must get a Chinese Driver’s License.

Luckily, in September China started a pilot program that allows foreigners who already have a license from another country to get a temporary license. This license is bound to one’s visa and the two will expire together. The maximum validity period of the driver’s license is 1 year however, and only allows you to drive rental cars.

You will only need your passport incl. a valid visa or residence permit, and your driver’s license. You can either obtain the permit by yourself, or contact eHi Car Services who will guide you through the process and take you to the different locations, all inclusive for a modest 249 RMB.

If you go the DIY route, these are the steps to follow:

A. Translation

Go to one of these two authorized translation agencies for a translation of your foreign driver’s license:

  • Shanghai Interpreters’ Association (SIA)
    Address: Room 1607, F16, 1277 West Beijing Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai
    Tel: 021-6321 8568, 021-6323 9910
    Office hours: Monday-Friday 9:00-16:30
  • Shanghai SISU Translation Service Co.
    Address: 573 Chifeng Road, Hongkou District, Shanghai
    Tel: 021-6536 2032
    Office hours: Monday-Friday 9:00-16:30

Let them know that you will apply for a temporary driver’s license. The translation will be issued within 15 to 30 minutes, and will cost between 50 and 100 RMB.

B. Application at the VAO

Then, take your passport, your original license, its authorized translation, and know your Chinese phone number, local address (in Chinese) and a Chinese version of your name, and go to the Vehicle Administration Office:

  • No. 1 Branch of Vehicle Administrative Office
    2999 West Huaxia Road, Pudong New District, Shanghai
    Office hours: Monday-Friday 9:00-17:00

Here you can submit your application, which includes that a picture will be taken of you (cost: 30 RMB). You will then have to wait 30-60 minutes before receiving your license.

When driving, you need to have the temporary license, your foreign license, its Chinese translation, and the rental contract for the car with you.


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