Using Your Driving License in Hong Kong, Macao and the Mainland

By Lars James Hamer, February 24, 2023

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From May 16, 2023, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macao will recognize Chinese driving licenses and vice versa, the Ministry of Public Security and the Macau SAR government have announced. 

Now, any person holding a valid license issued by either party can drive on the Chinese mainland and in Macao without taking a test.

Mainland drivers are free to drive in Macao using their mainland license without applying for an official Macao driving license if they are there for less than 14 days.

Similar agreements are already in place between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Chinese mainland. 

However, the Chinese mainland does not recognize the International Driving Permit (IDP). This means that foreigners can only drive on the mainland with a Chinese driving license, which is only given to people who hold a residence permit. 

To know how obtain a Chinese driving license, check out the article below. 

READ MORE: China’s Car Sale Slump and How to Take Advantage

If you have an International Driving Permit, you can navigate the roads in China’s SARs relatively hassle-free. If you don’t have an IDP but hold a Chinese or overseas license, here is a simple breakdown of how to use your driving license in each of China’s SARs. 

Please note: If you’re looking to obtain a Hong Kong or Macao driving license and your license isn’t in English, Chinese or Portuguese (Macao only), you’ll need to get it officially translated. 

Hong Kong 

Holders of a Chinese, international or overseas driving license can drive in Hong Kong for a period of 12 months from the date of their last arrival. Anyone wishing to navigate the roads in the HKSAR for longer than 12 months will need to apply for a Hong Kong driving license. 

If you hold a driving license from any of the countries listed below you can apply for a Hong Kong driving license without taking a test. 

  • Australia

  • Austria

  • Bangladesh, People's Republic of

  • Belgium

  • Canada

  • China, including the Mainland, Taiwan, Macau

  • Denmark

  • Finland

  • France

  • Germany, Federal Republic of

  • Iceland, Republic of 

  • India

  • Ireland, Republic of

  • Israel

  • Italy

  • Japan

  • Korea, Republic of

  • Luxembourg

  • Malaysia

  • Netherlands

  • New Zealand

  • Nigeria, Federal Republic of

  • Norway

  • Pakistan

  • Portugal

  • Singapore

  • Spain

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

  • Republic of South Africa together with S.W. Africa

  • United Kingdom together with Alderney (with Channel Islands), Bermuda, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey

  • United States of America

All you need is a license that is:

  • Valid or has not expired for more than 3 years; and

  • Must be obtained through passing of driving test held in the issuing country or place;

The driving entitlement(s) applied for must be equivalent to the class(es) which are authorized to drive by the issuing country or place; and satisfy any one of the requirements listed below:

  • Have resided in the overseas country or place of issue for a period of not less than 6 months during which the licence was issued (supporting documents include the relevant passport showing records of entry and departure or an official statement of travel records, AND school transcript or employer's testimonial with employment period specified, etc.); or

  • Have held the licence for 5 years or more immediately prior to the application; or

  • Hold a passport or equivalent travel document of the country or place in which the licence was issued.

To apply for your Hong Kong driving license, simply visit Hong Kong’s Transport Department’s website at https://www.td.gov.hk/.

If your driving license is not issued from one of the above countries you may apply for a temporary license three months after your arrival date in Hong Kong.

Please note: if you’re driving your car from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong, you must obtain a Hong Kong license plate and vice versa. 

Macao

Foreigners must obtain an IDP to use alongside their original driving license to drive in Macao. 

An IDP translates your driver’s license information into 12 of the most widely used languages in the world.

Obtaining an IDP for use in Macao can be done via the International Drivers Association website and can be used in more than 165 countries, including Hong Kong. 

Getting an IDP is relatively easy. All you need to do is complete the application form, attach the required documents (such as a valid driver’s license, passport-sized photo and input your credit card details) and submit. 


So there you have it! Several ways in which you can use your driving license in Macao or Hong Kong or obtain an IDP. 


[Image via Pexels]

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