How to apply for a driver’s license in Shanghai?

How to apply for a driver’s license in Shanghai?

This article is a guide on how foreign nationals managed to obtain their Chinese driver’s license in Shanghai.

Note: The process may vary slightly depending on the location and traffic bureau in which you apply. It’s recommended to contact the local traffic bureau in advance to confirm the specific requirements and procedures.

This article was originally written in 2008 when I applied for my driver’s license but has been updated on May 10, 2023, March 16, 2024 (credits to PS from China Visa4 WeChat group) to make it more current.

As you may be aware, China does not recognize a foreign or international driver’s license so if you have a valid one, you may convert it to a Chinese license by taking part in a theory exam.

If you follow all these steps you will be able to get everything done without having to speak Chinese and make the whole process a bit easier.

Documents Checklist:

  • Check if your visa is valid for 90 days or more.
    • Note: The minimum admission period must be 90 days, irrespective of the visa you have.
    • As a result of this requirement, it is smart to get your license while you can, your Chinese driving license will be valid for 6 years.
  • Make sure your current driver’s license is valid and is NOT a temporary or apprentice license.
    • The staff has an iPad with apparently pictures of licenses from all over the world and they will check their database to see when they are not sure.
  • Obtain a certified translation for your driver’s license.
    • You must have a certified translation of your original driving license. Take your original driving license to the one of the two addresses below. Prices vary for each country of origin.
      Shanghai SISU Translation Service Co.
      573 Chifeng Lu, near Quyang Lu Hongkou District
      Tel. 65362032
      Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 8.30 am-4.30 pm
      Shanghai Interpreters’ Association (SIA)
      Room 1607, CITS Mansion, 1277 West Beijing Rd
      Tel: 63218568, 63239910
  • Obtain the accommodation registration from the police station. This applies to any foreign national, even if you already have your residence permit in your passport. You should already have it if you’re living in China.
  • Do the physical checkup, process the documents, and request a theoretical test date.
  • Take the following documents to the one of the following four Driving Licensing Authority of the Shanghai Vehicle Management Board to apply for taking part in the theory exam:
    Vehicle Management Office First Branch
    No. 2999 Huaxia West Road, Pudong New Area
    Vehicle Management Office Second Branch
    No. 179, Qinchun Road, Minhang District
    Vehicle Management Office Third Branch
    No. 2638, Hunan Road, Pudong New Area
    Traffic Police Corps Vehicle Management Office Fourth Branch
    No. 299, Anfen Road, Baoshan District

The places to take the exam are:

  • 上海市长宁区哈 密 路 1330 号/ Hami Road 1330
  • 上海市嘉定区博园路969号1号楼1层/Boyuan Road 969 Building 1, First Floor

The Exam Time is between Monday and Saturday (excluding public holidays) from 9:00 AM to 10;00 AM and from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

Note: In this blog post, I will cover how to do to the test center at Hami Road. For the other center, you just need to google the location and the procedure should be the same.

Tips regarding how to pick up a Chinese name:

Ensure you have all the documents ready and do NOT forget that if a photocopy does not contain a Chinese name you cannot get a license.

The easiest way to get a Chinese name is to ask a Chinese friend, so you’re sure it’s a proper name.

Another good way is to use the Chinese name of a famous someone/ actor that you share your name with.

How to get to the Shanghai Vehicle Management Bureau at Hami Road?

Take the subway line 10 to the station named “Shanghai Zoo”. From exit #1, go up the stairs, turn left and cross the bridge. You will see the main street and a lateral street on the left.

Look for building #10 to go pay for the photos and medical test fees (price 100 RMB), then building 9 to collect them. After you have your pictures bring them to the lady/man with the medical forms, make sure to fill in the forms with black pen ONLY.

If you have difficulty writing Chinese characters, you may ask the staff for help. After that, you should take the medical test in the same building on the second floor

For the medical check, you will be directed to go from room to another. After the last test, go to the man at the end of the corridor and have the forms stamped for sign-off.

Once done, go to Building #1 to get the date of your written test. After you enter, turn left to get a number and you will probably need to show your papers. you will be directed to go to the end of the second floor (Windows 41 & 42) and await your turn. They will check all the papers and give you a date for the exam if all the documents are cleared.

Studying and preparing for the test:

There are many resources online to study for the theory exam. Here is one example.

Taking the test:

Go up to the second floor where you will find a door at the end of the corridor, go right and then left to find the stairs that will take you to the third floor.

Hand over all forms to the guard or the woman and wait for your name (in Chinese) to be called. Give the woman at the office your passport and she will ask you which language you want to take your exam in. I selected English in my case, but you can take the exam, if you so wish, in one of the other following languages:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Russian

Getting the driver’s license:

The outcome of the test will be one of the following:

  • If you succeed, they will give you a form with a passing grade.
  • If you don’t pass you will need to re-book.

In either case, go back to the first floor to get a new number. Go back up to the second floor to hand in the forms when they call you.

You will be told to pay 50 RMB at one of the Windows (30, 31, or 32) on the same floor.

After paying, come back to one of the windows (40, 41, or 42) to get your license right away.

When you are presented with your driver’s license, you have successfully completed your quest.