In order to drive a car in Cambodia as a foreigner, you’ll first need a driving license. Like most things in the country, the law is getting more strict, and the process is getting less logical. To make matters worse, the rules are often changed with zero notice. However, while many drivers (both foreign and local) choose not to get a license, getting caught can result in a fine or worse. As such we recommend getting your Cambodian driver’s license, and we’ve prepared this guide to help you.
NOTE: This guide assumes that you are applying/renewing the standard 1 year license, and have a license from your home country already. If you do not have that, or want to apply for the 10 year license, you’ll need to take the Cambodia driving test. Please contact us for more information on that.
What you will need
- Driving license from your home country – Make sure you provide the original and a photocopy. If you forget the copy, there is a photocopier at the license center, near the Wing payment booth (see “Getting your driving license” section below). If your license is in a language other than English, you may also be required to supply a translation.
- Passport with valid visa – Again, you should make sure you have the originals and photocopies.
- 5 passport photos – Standard white background, it’s usually a good idea to take a couple extra just in case.
- Residence certificate – Despite conflicting reports, the residence certificate is required even if you are only renewing your license. See the section below for more details.
- Fee – $11.50 for new Cambodian licenses, $10.25 for renewals (there is a $0.25 / 1000 riel processing fee at the Wing booth)
Getting your residence certificate
A Letter of Residence (also known as the Residence Certificate) is required for a Cambodian driving license, regardless of whether you are applying for a new one or renewing an old one. Note that the following is the “standard” process, but it’s highly likely that it may change depending on where you are staying/what Sangkat office you report to. We recommend asking your landlord or another Khmer local to assist you if possible.
1. Go to your local Sangkat office, and ask for a letter of residence. You should be provided with 2 copies of a single page form. If you’re lucky, the Sangkat may complete the forms for you, in which case you can ignore the remaining steps. If the language barrier is an issue, you can show them the image below:
2. Take the forms, passport and visa (with photocopies), rental contract and passport photos to the “chief” of the village you are staying in. Your landlord should be able to provide their address and/or contact details. It’s highly advisable you call ahead and arrange a time to meet – the village chief will most likely not have an office as such, so you’ll be meeting in their house, and they may not be there full time (or even that often).
3. The village chief will complete the forms for you. Most of the information they will take from your rental contract and passport, but you may also be required to give your occupation, mother and father’s names, and reason for applying for a residence certificate (in this case, to get a driver’s license).
4. Either you or the village chief then needs to return the Sangkat office to get the forms stamped. They will keep one copy and give the other one to you. The entire process should be free, but allow for a couple of days to get everything completed.
Getting your driving license
Once you have everything you need, it’s time to get your driving license for Cambodia! You’ll need to apply at the General Department Of Public Work and Transport, which is located in the far north of Phnom Penh here. It’s important to note that you cannot use an agent to apply for a license for you like previous years – you must apply for yourself.
The department is closed at weekends, so you’ll need to go during the week, and we recommend arriving before 10am or after 2pm. If you arrive too late in the morning you may have to wait while the staff go to lunch before the process is finished.
1. When you arrive at the entrance, you’ll see two gates side-by-side – enter the left one, following the short road and find a place to park up. The first thing you need to do is get a health checkup. Enter the building that was on the left of the entrance as you arrived (this one specifically), and follow the signs for the physical checkup. Once inside the checkup room, you’ll need to give the staff your documents, after which they’ll ask your height, weight, and give you an eye test. If all goes well, you’ll need to pay them 10,000 riel ($2.50) and give them a passport photo, and they’ll give you the form and receipt in return.
2. Leave the building and head back towards the main entrance, and this time head to the right of the entrance. Keep a lookout on your left for the Driving License office, it should be just passed the Wing payment booth (this is the building). Head to one of the windows and give them your documents. The staff will then check everything and enter your information into the system. This may take a while, potentially up to an hour depending on how busy the office is.
3. Once the check is complete your documents will then be returned to you in a cardboard folder. Head to the Wing booth you passed earlier. Show them your paperwork and they’ll ask for the remaining fee. Once paid, you’ll get a receipt.
4. Return to the driving license office and give them your documents back, along with the Wing receipt. You’ll need to wait around a few more minutes while your license is printed, after which you’ll need to sign a book to confirm that you have collected it. Congratulations, you can now drive legally in Cambodia!
Your license is valid for one year, unless you choose to attempt the driving exam to get a 10 year one. Now you have your Cambodian driving license, it’s time to start looking at cars! Don’t forget to check out Western Motor Garage’s Car Buying Service to help you get the best deal possible. We also have a separate guide for general information you need to know as a car owner in Cambodia.
As mentioned, the rules do change frequently, usually with no warning or official notification. Hopefully, the department will move to a more sensible online renewal process in the future. In the meantime, we’ll try to keep our information as up-to-date as possible. You can also contact us on 092 780 170 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.