If you have a valid driving licence in your home country, you can apply for a licence in China. You do, however, still have to sit a written driving test which, according to many candidates, is cryptic to say the least. Before take to the road, experience riding in a car for a few weeks.
This will allow you to become somewhat familiar with directions and major roads, as well as get your bearings and find a feel for the flow of traffic. The mix of bicycles, motor scooters and pedestrians makes driving considerably different than in most Western countries.
When driving in Shanghai it is extremely important to be aware that pedestrians and other cars do not follow a ‘right of way’ rule as in most Western countries. You can expect to see pedestrians walk out into traffic without looking with an apparent disregard for their own safety. Other vehicles will also merge into traffic and force other drivers to brake hard in order to avoid collisions. The best advice is to focus on what is ahead of you at all times. Do not get distracted as it could mean a serious accident.
To get a driving licence, you will need to prepare the following certificates:
• Health certificate
• Shanghai Residence Card
• Original residence permit in China plus one copy
• Foreign driving licence or international licence
The process is then as follows:
1. Go to the Ministry of Automobiles, 1101 Zhongshan Bei Yi Lu (6516 8168 ext 54787) where you will be given two application forms which must be filled out in Chinese.
2. With the completed chopped applications and RMB 150, you must obtain a health examination test at the Expatriate Department of any hospital above district level.
3. The original driving licence must be translated. This can be done at the Shanghai International Studies University, Dalian Xi Lu, Mr Lu Wei Guang (6587 7585).
4. Along with all the certificates and documents mentioned above, bring a digital photo and take the written test at the Ministry of Automobiles. The test is multiple choice and is in English. The licence may be picked up one week later. The test is given on Monday and Thursday 8.30-11am and 1.30-3.30pm.