Tainan Motor Vehicles Station

Tainan Motor Vehicles Station

The Tainan Motor Vehicles Station is the place to go for vehicle inspections, license plates, registrations, and of course getting your driver’s license. I am probably one of the few foreigners in Tainan who actually has his scooter license. Arguably, you can get away with not having one if you have a little luck, charm, and the ability to feign ignorance; however, I decided to get one just to be on the safe side. I no longer raise an eyebrow to those pesky spot checks, and I feel safer legally should anything unthinkable happen. There are those who say having a license makes it easier to be fined, but from people I talked to who have licenses and got pulled over, the police officers are so overjoyed that you have actually gone through the process of getting a license that they will gleefully turn away from a small infraction. Of course, small infractions in southern Taiwan seem to include doing a wheely down the wrong side of the street and through a red light with eight helmetless kids doing a circus act on the back, so you don’t have to worry about that forbidden right-hand turn on red.   

The Tainan Motor Vehicles Station

The Tainan Motor Vehicles Station

Driving legally in Taiwan can be done in one of two ways. If you get an international license in your home country and said country has a reciprocal agreement with Taiwan, then you can drive for up to 30 days in Taiwan. You can then use that license to get a driving permit that is good for the length of your ARC once you are a legal resident. The other way is to get a license in Taiwan. If you’re like me and didn’t get an international license (because I thought it would only work for 30 days), then you will have to go through the process of getting a license. Also, if you only have a car license, it only legally allows you to ride a 50cc scooter. So without a motorcycle license from your home country, you would be stuck with a 50cc (not so good if you’re over 70kgs). Also, and this is important, you cannot get a Taiwanese license of any sort until you have legally lived in Taiwan at least a year! And people wonder why so many foreigners drive scooters in Taiwan without a license.   

If you’ve been in Taiwan for over a year and want to shore up your legal status on the road, you can head on over to the most convenient motor vehicles office. In Tainan, the one on Linsen Road is probably in the best location for most people. You will need to bring along the usual necessary documents and photos, and you will need to have a physical exam in one of the offices across the lane to make sure you’re not colorblind nor have any obvious disabilities. They can also do photos in this office if you didn’t bring your own. This motor vehicles office isn’t particularly English friendly (probably because not many foreigners ever end up here), so you may want to bring along someone for translation.   

The written tests do come in an English version and are done on a computer kiosk. The English is famously bad on these tests. They have improved on this with a new version, but it is still sometimes oddly worded and confusing. Test guides are available for download from the government, but these are outdated and I found many of the questions on my test to be quite different. This makes the technical questions difficult and the names for various signs confusing, but many of the questions are answerable without any study at all. Some of these questions are quite laughable. A few of my favorite questions from the motorcycle road test are:  

  1. Motorcyclist obeys the law is: (1) afraid of fines (2) responsible and honorable (3) under supervision
  2. If a motorcyclist wants to show national pride, enhance social safety and family happiness, he/she must: (1) drive ethically and obey the laws (2) have great driving skills (3) stop smoking and drinking
  3. The tip for the motorcyclist to solve complex and critical events is: (1) calm and safe (2) to be an adventurer (3) optimistic and let it be
  4. As to ensure the motorcyclist’s and others’ safety, you must: (1) control oneself and help others (2) prevent others to argue(3) think some ways to hurt others
  5. I am a good driver, I obey all traffic laws, I want the highway patrol to: (1) be more strict (2) be relaxed (3) just check but not report    

There’s also an online guide available here.

The road test for the motorcycle is quite easy. Basically, they want to check that you can balance the bike while moving slowly and to see if you can start and stop without any problems.  Just make sure you don’t put your foot down until you’ve come to a complete stop. I haven’t taken the car road test, but it is outlined here.

Good luck and drive safely.

No. 1  Chongde Road (on the corner of Linsen Road), East District, Tainan City, Taiwan 701 (next to the Dadong Night Market)

10 Responses to “Tainan Motor Vehicles Station”
  1. Alex says:

    I tried (and failed) to get my scooter license. The test was a lot like this:
    It was insanely hard. Good for you for actually passing it.

    • tainancity says:

      Haha. Yeah. I did actually study the downloadable test questions for more than a week and was frustrated to find that many of the questions on the test were different and I had no basis to answer them. I’m a lucky guesser, though. The online guide might be more up-to-date.

      • Hanjié says:

        I bet you were the amusement for the staff of the Tainan Motor Vehicles Station the day you took the test. Be able to comprehend Taiwanese style translation is one of the signs that indicates you’ve been stay in Taiwan too long. Congrats!

  2. Scott says:

    It was a very embarrassing situation for me.

    On the THIRD try, I finally passed the written test.

    I failed the riding test THREE times– then gave up. This after riding the dang scooter all over the city daily for months….

    I communicated with the people at the Tainan office on LinSen in my bad-but-basic Chinese. Don’t know if they can handle things in English. The fermale desk clerk I had to deal with there was impatient and apparently does not like dealing with even polite foreigners.

  3. Silfo says:

    do you know where i can get a good deal on motorcycle around tainan?? I plan to buy a second hand but still confuse where to buy it….

    • tainancity says:

      You can try watching for the ads on the Tainan Bulletin. That’s usually the cheapest option as foreigners usually sell their things cheaply when they leave. The only problem with this is these bikes don’t always have their papers and they may not have been to the mechanic for a while. On Gongyuan Road from Chenggong Road to Gongyuan North Road there are several large scooter and motorcycle dealerships that deal in used bikes. They have a wide variety and will finance for you if you don’t have all the money, but these guys usually overcharge. The best thing to do is ask around with your Taiwanese friends. Sometimes the small mechanics around town sell second-hand bikes. They usually sell them cheaper than Gongyuan Road, they would’ve done some maintenance on them, and they will have the right papers and will probably do the paperwork for you. That’s my experience, anyway.

  4. Kara says:

    What are the MVO business hours? I have googled everywhere. This page has the most information.

  5. hi-c says:

    is the test really that hard? i didn’t study anything yet yet i am planning to take the test already, is it a bad move?

    • tainancity says:

      I believe you need 85% to pass. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong there because I’ve forgotten. Many of the questions are no-brainers, but some of them are tricky and the strange language they use at times doesn’t help. Seeing that you can only get a few wrong answers and still pass, I highly recommend studying.

  6. its easy to take the test now coz its translated to english and there a person who will handle for foreigner..you must study the reviewer that is translated also in english coz all the questioner will be seen in that.and if you want motorcycle you can ask help on me 🙂

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