Taiwan Drivers Licenses

By tealit Staff Writers Updated July 10nd , 2018

Beep, Beep, Mmmm, Beep, Beep Yeah!
OK - so, you want to be able to drive once you get to Taiwan. And, before you left, you went down to the CAA and got your International Driver’s License. But you’re a little unsure - International License, Local License, Driving Visa, Endorsement, Scooter, 50cc, Regular Heavy, Super Heavy, Heavy Metal! Ok - I threw that last one in but - what does it all mean??! Well, here’s what you need to know to be able to drive immediately when you arrive in Taiwan.

Let’s begin with an examination of the two basic groups of people who find themselves foreigners in Taiwan and wanting to drive.

Those who

  • HAVE A VISA WHICH IS GOOD FOR LESS THAN 1 YEAR, e.g. a 30-60 DAY VISA
  • HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS’ LICENSE
  • UP THROUGH YOUR FIRST YEAR BEING HERE

Those who

  • HAVE A VISA WHICH IS GOOD FOR 1 YEAR OR LONGER, e.g. visa ARC through employment
  • MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE

Arriving in Taiwan for the first time most of us find ourselves with just a 30-60 day visitors’ visa. Then, we often find ourselves heading out of the country a few times to get a new 30-60 day visitors’ visa before making any long-term decisions. If the visa you have is for any duration less than one year, you can’t get a Taiwan driver’s license and you need to use your international drivers’ license to drive.

Not to worry: the local system is set to accommodate you. When you’re still back home and you go to get your International Driver’s License, be sure it allows you to drive both cars and motorcycles. (In most cases, this requires an extra written test at your back-home DMV before you apply.) Then, you can drive in Taiwan from the time you touch down for up to a full year using your international driver’s license.

However, most of us find ourselves in Taiwan beyond that year - so, it also pays to get a local license.

 

USING YOUR INTERNATIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE IN TAIWAN

Ownership & Insurance

When you are using your International Driver’s License you won’t be able to own a scooter or car. If someone loans you a scooter or car, as long as you have a valid recognized international driver’s license , their insurance would carry over to you.

Most scooters you’ll borrow will carry just the Compulsory Taiwan Insurance 強制險 強制險. This required-by-all-vehicles insurance is just for other parties - someone you hit or if someone hits you. It pays up to NT$200,000 per person / per accident for medical treatment and up to NT$2,000,000 per person / per accident for death or dismemberment and is administered on a no-fault basis. It pays out to the other party regardless of who caused the accident.

Am I Covered?

Until you have a job / resident visa / ARC you can’t be enrolled in the National Health Insurance (NHI) and so you can’t get medical care at the subsidized rate. If you got in an accident, you would still receive up to NT$200,000 toward any medical expenses. But, at the unsubsidized rate, that NT$200,000 would probably not go as far as you would want it to if you were hurt. If you think you’ll be driving for a while before getting a job, you may want to consider getting some kind of supplemental traveler’s insurance for yourself. Locally, these types of policies are known as 人身意外險 Individual Personal Accident, 傷害醫療保險 Personal Accidental Medical Reimbursement and 旅遊平安保險 Travel Accident.

 

Property Damage

The compulsory insurance does not cover any property damage: such as if you get into an accident with a BMW, etc. The people in Beemer would get any medical payouts, if necessary, from the compulsory insurance, but getting the car itself fixed would be up to the owner of the scooter you had borrowed, who’d probably come looking to you.

It is possible for the owner of whatever scooter you are borrowing to significantly beef up their insurance for property damage & medical payments to other people for very little cost - we’re talking like NT$2,500 a year for millions of dollars of extra protection. This can be a nice option just as peace of mind for the person whose scooter you are borrowing - and for you, especially if it’s a long-term sort of borrow. This type of policy is known locally as 第三人責任險, third party liability insurance.

 

Driving

Using a recognized International Driver’s license, for the first 30 days of your stay you can drive any class of non-commercial vehicle that your license states you can drive without doing anything at all. Your IDL is all you need.

At 30 days of being here if you want to continue driving you are required by law to go down to your local DMV and have your license endorsed by the state. If you go into day 31 without the endorsement it would be illegal to drive.

In translation this is called getting a driving visa, 國際駕駛執照簽證. When you reach your 30th day, go down to your local DMV & take this explanation of what you are trying to do and this form and give them to the counter dude or dudette.

我想要辦理國際駕駛執照簽證
I want to apply for an IDL Visa

  1. Your International Driver’s License. If you are from the USA you’ll need to show your local license also.
  2. Your passport.
  3. Color photo taken within 6 months, no hat.
  4. The form for a driving visa.

 

They will endorse your International Drivers’ License for the balance of time left on your visa, up to one year. So, if you had a 60 day visa and came in on the 30th day they’d stamp you forward to use your IDL for 30 more days.

When your 60th day comes around, if you leave the country and choose to return, you start over: using a valid IDL, you’d be allowed to drive for 30 days from the 1st day of your new arrival without having to do any other paperwork. At 30 days, would need to go in and have your IDL endorsed forward for the balance of your new visa’s stay.

 

Getting a local license

OK. So, now, you’ve decide to teach / model / engineer... you’ve gotten a job. So, at this point, you’ll wind up getting (in most cases) a one-year resident visa and ARC. Now that you have that one-year visa, you could get a local Taiwan driver’s license.

However, often times your International Driver’s License will not have expired by the time you have gotten your Resident Visa and ARC. So, you can go into the DMV and have them endorse your IDL forward for the remainder of its duration. If you have 8 months left on your International Driver’s License and a 1 year visa, they’d endorse your IDL forward for those 8 months. If your IDL sanctions you to drive a Car, a 50 Scooter and a Regular Heavy 51-250cc motorcycle, then there you go - you could continue to drive those vehicles for the next eight months.

You can use that time to decide what kind of local license you’ll want to get and bone up on those rules and regs.

WHAT'S ON THE TEST FOR A SOOTER & MOTORCYCLE LICENSE 50cc to 250cc

The license test for a scooter or a motorcycle, 50cc to 250cc, has two parts: a written test & a driving test.

From getting in the door to finishing everything the whole process usually can be finished within1 hour. Total cost is under NT$700.

Written test for a Scooter & Motorcycle License

Written test has 50 questions. Given at a computer terminal. Test consists of:

  1. 30 Multiple-choice on Regulations, Road signs & Situational questions
  2. 20 True-False on Regulations & Road signs

You get just 30 minutes to finish the test. 

You’ll want to study. 85% is passing. They ask you to wait seven days before you can re-test if you get a score lower than 85.

Most of the questions are what you'd expect or be able to figure out from your driving experience back home. Practice test here - center button gets score.

Driving test for a Scooter & Motorcycle License

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8. This move.

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From question #7 above, Traffic Light Recognition, the next is “Move Into the Box Where Scooters Wait to Change into Perpendicular Traffic”.
Basically, a test for this move.

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WHAT'S ON THE TEST FOR A CAR LICENSE

Now, finally, there’s the car. On long trips, or on long nights, you may find yourself in a group, or with your significant other, and needing to drive a car - her car, his car, their car. After having been able to drive a car with your IDL, you’ll know how often or if ever you’ve had the chance or need to drive a car.

The advantage of getting a car license is that from the get-go it allows you to drive BOTH a car AND a 50cc.

Written Test for a Car License

For a license to drive a car, you’ll take a car-specific written test and road test. The written portion is a 40-question test given at a computer screen

  1. 10 Multiple-choice on Regulations
  2. 15 True-false on Regulations
  3. 5 True-false on Road signs
  4. 10 Multiple-choice on Road signs

You’re given 30 minutes to finish.

You’ll want to study for the written test. They ask you to wait seven days before you can retest if you get a score lower than 85%. Practice test here - center button gets score.

The driving test you get at the DMV for a car licenses is quite challenging, but do-able - if you practice. It is important to note that among locals, taking the driving test for a car license AT the DMV is very unusual. The vast majority of people, 90% by most estimates, take their driving tests with local private schools. The schools are licensed by the government to administer the driving portion of the test. Pass the car driving test at your local driving school, and then take proof of such down to the DMV. Finish by taking the written / on-computer test at the DMV and collect your license there.

From the time you walk in until when you finish, Including the driving test, getting a car drivers license takes just about 2 hours. Total cost is under NT$700.

Driving Test for a Car License

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Making an Appointment to Take Written & Driving Tests

Ok!  Now that you've had a chance to review everything, you want to go an TAKE THE TESTS for a license at the DMV!  You need to make an appointment to do that.  Below are all the steps you need to get you there. 

How to Make an Appointment to Take the Tests to Get a Scooter Motorcycle 50-250 License

Written & Driving tests for a scooter license take about an hour to complete at the DMV.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: ARC, PASSPORT, ANY DRIVER’S LICENSE(S) FROM YOUR HOME COUNTRY YOU MAY HAVE
Step 1 - figure out which DMV office is nearest to you.  Here is tealit’s DMV Google Map.
Step 2 - To be able to take the Written & Driving tests for a scooter license you have to bring a Health Check to the DMV when you arrive to take your tests.
Each DMV office has contracted with a nearby Health Clinic to give the Health Check.
The Health Check is very basic.  Takes about 5 minutes.  No appointment required.  Don’t go at noon.  Most close for lunch.
They:

Record your height and weight
Check your hearing - tuning fork sounded left and right, ask if you hear it.
A color blindness test.
Check to see if you have all 4 limbs.
Ask you to produce both your hands.
Get you to squat down and rise up one time.

Find the walk-in Health Check Clinic nearby the DMV office where you’ve chosen to take the Written & Driving tests.  They are all listed on tealit's DMV Google Map
Call the clinic and check their hours.  You’ll find locations & numbers for each clinic on tealit’s DMV Google Map.
Step 3 - go online and make an appointment to take the Written & Driving tests for a scooter license at the DMV nearest you.

You'll need a friend who can read Chinese to help.  The appointment page is all in Chinese. 
There's no English page for making license test appointments as of July 5th, 2018.  If you just show up at the DMV without an appointment there's a strong chance you'll not get the test. 
So, get a friend to help you use the online page to set up the appointment.

When choosing the appointment time to take your written and driving tests for a scooter do so in concert with the opening & closing times of the nearby health check clinic. 

For example, if the Health Check Clinic opens at 9am, schedule your Scooter Written & Driving Tests for 10:30am.  That way you'll have time in the morning to get the health check done and then get to your Written & Driving Tests appointment. 
If the Health Check Clinic closes at 4:30pm, schedule your Written & Driving Tests appointment for 3pm.  That way you can get to the Health Check office by 2pm, short waiting time & 5-minute test, then easily arrive on time for your License test. 
Written & driving tests for a scooter together take about an hour.
Health Check costs range from NT$90 to 150. No appointment necessary. Most clinics close for lunch, so don’t go at noon.

Step 4 - on the day of your scooter license Written & driving tests, be sure to bring your PASSPORT, ARC & ANY LOCAL DRIVER’S LICENSES YOU HAVE WITH YOU. 
Arrive at the Health Check Clinic near the DMV office you've chosen about an hour ahead of your Written & Driving tests appointment.  Get your Health Check done. 
Step 5 - Health Check in-hand, ARC, passport and any driver’s license(s) from your home country you may have ALSO in-hand, arrive at the DMV at your appointment time and PASS the Written & Driving tests with FLYING Colors, after having reviewed and prepped via tealit's Driver License page! :)  Cost is around NT$700 and tests take an hour.
Only one DMV has a clinic for the health check on site: the Shulin Dist., New Taipei City DMV office.

How to Make an Appointment to Take the Tests to Get a Car License

Written & Driving tests for a car license take about two hours to complete at the DMV.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: ARC, PASSPORT, ANY DRIVER’S LICENSE(S) FROM YOUR HOME COUNTRY YOU MAY HAVE
Step 1 - figure out which DMV office is nearest to you.  Here is tealit’s DMV Google Map.
Step 2 - To be able to take the Written & Driving tests for a car license you have to bring a Health Check to the DMV when you arrive to take your tests.
Each DMV office has contracted with a nearby Health Clinic to give the Health Check.
The Health Check is very basic.  Takes about 5 minutes.  No appointment required.  Don’t go at noon.  Most close for lunch.
They:

Record your height and weight
Check your hearing - tuning fork sounded left and right, ask if you hear it.
A color blindness test.
Check to see if you have all 4 limbs.
Ask you to produce both your hands.
Get you to squat down and rise up one time.

Find the walk-in Health Check Clinic nearby the DMV office where you’ve chosen to take the Written & Driving tests.  They are all listed on tealit's DMV Google Map
Call the clinic and check their hours.  You’ll find locations & numbers for each clinic on tealit’s DMV Google Map.
Step 3 - go online and make an appointment to take the Written & Driving tests for a car license at the DMV nearest you.

You'll need a friend who can read Chinese to help.  The appointment page is all in Chinese. 
There's no English page for making license test appointments as of July 5th, 2018.  If you just show up at the DMV without an appointment there's a strong chance you'll not get the test. 
So, get a friend to help you use the online page to set up the appointment.

When choosing the appointment time to take your written and driving tests for a scooter do so in concert with the opening & closing times of the nearby health check clinic. 

For example, if the Health Check Clinic opens at 9am, schedule your Scooter Written & Driving Tests for 10:30am.  That way you'll have time in the morning to get the health check done and then get to your Written & Driving Tests appointment. 
If the Health Check Clinic closes at 4:30pm, schedule your Written & Driving Tests appointment for 3pm.  That way you can get to the Health Check office by 2pm, short waiting time & 5-minute test, then easily arrive on time for your License test. 
Written & driving tests for a scooter together take about an hour.
Health Check costs range from NT$90 to 150. No appointment necessary. Most clinics close for lunch, so don’t go at noon.

Step 4 - on the day of your car license Written & driving tests, be sure to bring your PASSPORT, ARC & ANY LOCAL DRIVER’S LICENSES YOU HAVE WITH YOU. 
Arrive at the Health Check Clinic near the DMV office you've chosen about an hour ahead of your Written & Driving tests appointment.  Get your Health Check done. 
Step 5 - Health Check in-hand, ARC, passport and any driver’s license(s) from your home country you may have ALSO in-hand, arrive at the DMV at your appointment time and PASS the Written & Driving tests with FLYING Colors, after having reviewed and prepped via tealit's Driver License page! :)  Cost is around NT$700 and tests take about two hours.
Only one DMV has a clinic for the health check on site: the Shulin Dist., New Taipei City DMV office.

Ownership & Insurance

With your local license, you can now own your ride - it would be in your name. No more borrowing.

Am I Covered?

Whenever you buy a vehicle - scooter or car - it must be sold with the compulsory insurance in effect. This compulsory insurance強制險does not cover you, just someone you hit, or if someone hits you - NT$200,000 per person / per accident medical. NT$2,000,000 per person / per accident death or dismemberment.

Once you have your one-year resident visa and ARC, you’ll be enrolled in the National health Insurance and get health care at subsidized really low cost. So, in theory, you can consider yourself covered - if you were hit, you would get up to NT$200,000 toward covering any medical expenses, and that would go pretty far in the subsidized healthcare system.

However, that’s in theory. You can get banged up pretty good in a scooter accident. And, most of us are here for - a year? Or, two? So, it’s a sort of a gamble: whatever happens to me: can be fixed, in Taiwan, in a year, for NT$200,000, or less. However, that’s the gamble most of us take.

None the less, you can both locally and from back home buy extra insurance that would follow you from Taiwan and pay out for extra medical treatment for an accident if it was bad enough to necessitate that. Locally, this kind of insurance is called: 人身意外險 Individual Personal Accident / 傷害醫療保險 Personal Accidental Medical Reimbursement.

 

FAQs

Do I have to take a physical before I go to take the test for a local driver’s license?

Yes. There’s a VERY basic medical check. Used to be you could get it done AT the DMV. As of March 2018 no longer. Nationwide it has been given to private clinics located nearby each DMV office. All listed in previous link. Test takes about 5 minutes. Cost ranges from NT$90 to 150. No appointment necessary. Most clinics close for lunch, so don’t go at noon.

Only one DMV has a clinic for the health check on site: the Shulin Dist., New Taipei City DMV office. This is also the headquarters of the DMV.

Location

What they do is:
Record your height and weight
Check your hearing - tuning fork sounded left and right, ask if you hear it.

A color blindness test.
Check to see if you have all 4 limbs.
Ask you to produce both your hands.
Get you to squat down and rise up one time.
Not all DMV offices have places to perform the physical on site.

 

Does my home country have a special agreement with Taiwan that enables me to drive using my own local license alone, needing nothing else?

Among English speaking countries, only one country has this right. That country is Papua New Guinea; you can drive on your local license if you are from here.

Are there some American states whose residents are not allowed to use an IDL to drive in Taiwan?

Yes, but… People whose local licenses are from the states of California, New York State, Massachusetts & Oklahoma cannot use their International Drivers Licenses to drive in Taiwan. However, this is not an issue because drivers from California, New York State, Massachusetts & Oklahoma are allowed to use their LOCAL licenses as an IDL!

Do Americans need to bring anything special with them to use their International Driver’s Licenses in Taiwan?

Yes. Americans need to bring their local license with them and present their local license when getting the endorsement to drive beyond 30 days on their IDL and when applying for a local license.

Are unlicensed drivers responsible for the insurance payouts if they cause accidents?

Yes. For example, if an unlicensed driver caused an accident & NT$800,000 was paid out, the insurance company would sue the unlicensed driver to collect the payments.