How do I get a driving license for a private car in Hong Kong?

yellow car driving license hong kong

While the public transport in Hong Kong is far superior to many other places, sometimes you just want to drive to get to where you want. It might be a convenience thing, or it might be about freedom, or perhaps you’ll need a driving license for work. Whether you've just turned 18 or you're a new arrival here, getting your license in Hong Kong is simple and Kwiksure has the information you’ll need to get one.

An overview of Hong Kong’s car licensing laws

Just like almost all other countries around the world, Hong Kong has a number of different driving license classes that individuals can apply for. Commercial and taxi/transport licenses, heavy vehicles, and motorcycles all have special license classes that must be obtained in order to drive certain vehicles in specific situations. Your basic private car license, however, is the minimum you need for personal car use.

The laws in Hong Kong state that the following requirements must be met for an individual to obtain a license for a private car:

  • You must be aged 18 or above
  • You must be physically fit to drive
  • You must pass the relevant driving test

The testing regime for obtaining a driving license is also straightforward. Individuals should first apply for a learner’s license, practice their driving skills, make an appointment for and take a driving test, pass the probation period, then apply for a full license.

hong kong driving license flowchart

Seem simple enough? Now we’ll take you through each of these steps to ensure you have everything you need to get licensed in Hong Kong.

1. Applying for and obtaining your Learner’s Driving License

Before you get behind the wheel to practice driving, you need to apply for a Learner’s Driving License. This is as simple as filling out a TD 555 application form. It’s a standard government document that asks for your personal details, such as your full name, date of birth, and residential address. You’ll also need to make a declaration of your physical condition as well.

The fee for a Learner’s license is HK 548 (as of April 2017). Once you’ve completed your TD 555, you can submit it to any licensing office along with your Hong Kong ID card (or passport for non-Hong Kong residents), proof of address, medical examination report form TD 256 (if you’re over the age of 70), and your licensing fee.

Once approved, you will be a licensed learner and allowed to legally practice driving in Hong Kong under the following conditions:

  • You cannot drive on any roads on which learners are not permitted, including motorways and tunnels
  • You must carry an L-plate at the front and back of the vehicle you are driving
  • You must also always be supervised by a qualified driving instructor
  • You may not carry any other passenger other than a driving instructor, test examiner and one other learner driver

Your learner’s driving license is valid for only one year, meaning you must either complete the driving test then apply for a probationary license in that time, or renew at the end of a year. If you’ve been practising and you feel confident enough to drive alone, you can take the Hong Kong Driving Test.

2. Take the Driving Test

You’ve got your learner’s license and you’ve been getting used to driving a car. What’s the next step? Booking your Driving Test appointment! The Test is to see if you’re competent enough to be a safe driver on Hong Kong roads. It’s the exam you need to take before you’re granted a Probationary Driving License, and you cannot book an appointment without having a learner’s license already.

Booking a Driving Test requires that a completed TD 82 form be submitted:

  • In person: to the Hong Kong Licensing Office or the Kowloon Licensing Office
  • By post: to the Kowloon Licensing Office, 2/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon

When you attend your appointment, be sure you have your HKID, learner’s license, and the HKD 510 Driver’s Test appointment fee with you. The Driving Test itself is in three parts: Part A is the written test, and parts B and C are the road test. All tests must be passed in order for you to be eligible to apply for your Probationary Driving License.

Part A: The written test

The written portion of the Hong Kong driving license test is much like it is in other countries. You can expect to be tested on your knowledge of the road rules and laws. You must answer 16 out of 20 questions correctly to pass the test. The best study material you will find will be the Transport Department’s very own Road Users' Code. You may also find mock tests available online, such as this one from the Hong Kong School of Motoring.

Part B & C: The road test

Part B is the off-street driving test that assesses your skills controlling a vehicle on a slope, parking it at a designated parking space, and making a U-turn on a narrow road. Part C is the on-road driving test that looks at your ability to handle a vehicle on public roads. When you have applied for a Driving Test appointment, the Transport Department will assign you to a testing centre to undertake these tests.

The key to passing the written and practical parts of the Driving Test is to be well practiced and well prepared. Instructors are looking for you to demonstrate proper driving skills through a test route that engages proper driving gear application, pedal and speed control, keeping a safe distance, and observing traffic regulations. Our best advice is to remain calm and clear whilst driving, your performance will follow.

If you want to get up to speed as fast as possible so you can ace your Driving Test, why not check out our post on driving courses in Hong Kong?

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3. Applying for and obtaining a Probationary Driving License

Once you’ve passed all parts of the Driving Test, you’re eligible to apply for a Probationary Driving License. Individuals must apply within three years of passing all parts of the test, and the granting of it begins a driver’s 12-month probationary period (this may be extended if you commit a minor road traffic offence, and cancelled in the event you commit a major offence).

Applying for a Probationary Driving License is done by completing a TD 82 application form and submitting it to:

  • In person: to the Hong Kong Licensing Office or the Kowloon Licensing Office
  • By post: to the Kowloon Licensing Office, 2/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon

Again, you’ll need to bring your Hong Kong ID card for residents, or a passport for non-Hong Kong residents, your learner’s license, and the HKD 90 application fee for processing your application.

The restrictions that apply to drivers on probation include:

  • You must display a P plate at all times whilst driving
  • You cannot drive your vehicle at a speed in excess of 70km/hr - even where the speed limit is higher
  • You may not drive in the offside lane of an expressway where there are three or more traffic lanes

If you can follow these rules and not commit any minor or major offences for a minimum of 12 months, you will be eligible to apply for your Full Driving License.

4. Applying for a full driving license

Your full license application must be made within three years of passing all parts of the relevant Hong Kong Driving Test. Anyone attempting to apply outside this timeframe will be required to retake and pass the tests again before they can be eligible. Again, it’s simply filling out an application form (this time the TD 557) and submitting it to a licensing office with the following:

  • Your Hong Kong ID card, or passport if you are not a HK citizen or resident
  • Your original Driving Test form
  • Proof of your address
  • The TD 256 medical examination report for those over the age of 70
  • The required fee of;
    • HK 900 if you are under 60 years old
    • HK 90 if you are over 70 and want a 1-year license
    • HK 270 if you are over 70 and want a 3-year license
    • If you are between 60 and 67 years of age, your fee is calculated differently - see the Transport Department website for an explanation

 Those of you under the age of 70 will be granted a full license that is valid for 10 years (or until you turn 70, whichever comes first) and will allow you to drive a non-commercial private vehicle without restrictions in Hong Kong. Once you’ve received a full driving license, you’ll next want to look at obtaining compliant car insurance so you’re completely legal to drive on Hong Kong roads.

Obtaining car insurance after securing your driving license

Whilst it’s not impossible to get vehicle coverage with a learner’s driving license, it is a lot trickier as insurance companies will view such drivers as risky accidents waiting to happen. Once you’ve proven yourself competent with a full license, however, obtaining insurance should be your very next step before getting behind the wheel. Hong Kong laws state that all car owners must hold a minimum level of car insurance to be on the roads.

Expert vehicle insurance broker Kwiksure has been securing quality motor insurance coverage for locals and expats in Hong Kong for more than 15 years. We’re well experienced in finding the right car insurance plans for both new and long-time drivers, and can make sure you can drive safe in the knowledge that you have a comprehensive insurance solution to back you up. For a free quote, contact our advisors today!

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The above information is for reference only. Kwiksure takes no responsibility for the accuracy and timeliness of the information. For the coverage, mode of compensation, benefit limit and premium levels of any specific insurance plan, please refer to the relevant policy terms.