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.
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:
- Motorcyclist obeys the law is: (1) afraid of fines (2) responsible and honorable (3) under supervision
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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)