Drivers who possess domestic licenses of their own country can use their country’s license to drive here in Malaysia.

As a matter of fact, this provision is allowed for by the Geneva Conference of 1949 and 1968. All signatories to the above conference have agreed to accept each other’s license for use in their respective countries.

However, member countries have the rights to impose certain rules and regulations from time to time. Foreign drivers arriving in a particular country must abide to the rules imposed by the host nation.

For example, England, it is said permits drivers visiting its country as a tourist or on a short social visit to rent a car from a rental car company and drive it all over the country to view the beautiful sights available. The above amenity accorded to tourists is one of the cheapest and most convenient mode of seeing a country which one happens to be visiting.

Before proceeding any further with today’s topic for discussion, it should be reminded that although the Geneva Conference 1949 and 1968 allows a person to use his domestic license, nevertheless do remember two important things.

These two things are:

i) Domestic licenses should be valid, meaning it shouldn’t be expired.

ii) Do bring a translated copy of your license either in Bahasa Malaysia or English. This would facilitate local official, the Police or the Road Transport Department people in their work.

If you are a history student, like myself, you would surely have learnt that World War I (1914 – 1919) and World War II (1939 – 1945) and other squabbles were ended by famous treaties. The 1st World War was ended, for instance, by the League of Nations in 1919. The 2nd World Was, ended when 2 atomic bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The peace agreement signed at the United Nations, have not only ended the World Wars, other bodies affiliated to it, like the International Labour Organisation (I.L.O.), the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and United Nations Economic and Social Organisation (U.N.E.S.C.O.) and International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) are functioning actively all across the world today.

Besides the above world bodies, which signatories member countries agree to abide with, and as I said, the Geneva Conference 1949 and 1968, another world body has agreed to the usage of domestic licenses.

In my Highway Code class which I conduct in a driving institutes in Kampung Jawa, Klang, students especially foreign ones from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan even, often pose this important question to me. They have frequently asked of me, “Can foreigners use their domestic driving license when they come and work in Malaysia?”

As per the text book I use for my lecture, and published by the J.P.J. entitled Kurrikulum Pendidikan Pemandu (K.P.P.), in short, the answer to the above question is Yes.

As a lecturer for the above course for over 25 years now, it has always been my contention that foreign licenses can indeed be used in Malaysia. The simple explanation is “Malaysia is a signatory of the Geneva Conference 1949 and 1968″.

But of late, colleagues and driving instructor friends of mine have come up to me to ask this question which foreign students frequently confront me. My usual answer to the above question of Yes has met lately with much disapproval.

It has come to a stage whereby I have no other alternative but to come out with an explanation. Lest, other people especially comrades, friends, fellow instructor and students who follow my lectures, begin to have the opinion that I’m not well versed with J.P.J. rules and regulations.

For this purpose, permit me to provide some explanation to the above problem. Due to certain reasons, which I am not in a liberty to expose, the Transport Department in Putrajaya has decided to do away with the automatic conversion of domestic licenses into Malaysian licenses. In short, the J.P.J. has decided upon this decision.

Some readers from this blog from India for example, have written in to lament that they have not been able to get their domestic licenses converted.

The Malaysian government possesses the right to lay down rules and regulations. Foreign visitors to our country should be aware of one thing. When coming or visiting a country, a visitor is normally accorded certain privileges. For example, visitors are given the privilege of good service by the Tourist Department.

But some visitors who visit our country, feel it’s their rights to have their domestic licenses automatically converted into full Malaysian licenses. This is indeed wrong assumption.

Although Parliament may not have passed any laws as yet, the government, and in this case J.P.J., can from time to time make necessary changes to its existing rules and regulations. J.P.J. Putrajaya can through circulars to state J.P.J. offices, alter existing rules and regulations, In such cases, it therefore becomes law.

Though I am not in the government services, unfortunately have no access to the above alterations mentioned above. I am writing this article based upon my vast and long experiences, which has spanned over more than 40 years.

It is therefore my assumption and contention, that the J.P.J. latest decision to deny conversion of domestic licenses from, for example, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Indonesia to name a few, is within the rights of the Road Transport Department to do so.

So, what can foreign drivers do about such decisions which they may or may not like?

Actually, there is nothing much a foreign driver here in Malaysia can do. For one, a foreign driver who feels he needs to have a Malaysian driving license can take steps to get the above license by going for a test.

In England, a foreign driver has to apply for a full British license after being given a period of 120 days to drive. Likewise, if a foreign driver here in Malaysia has the necessary qualifications, he or she can very well appear to test for a Malaysian driving license.

Short of the above suggestion given, the only other alternative for a foreign driver to do is to seek his or her Embassy or Consulate’s assistance regarding the subject of using their domestic licenses here in Malaysia.

Try bringing up the question of the Geneva Conference 1949 and 1968 decision made by all signatory nations. I doubt anyone can get very far with it these days.

Via this article, I have explained rather explicitly regarding the conversion of foreign license into full Malaysian driving licenses as faced by some foreign nationals. It is therefore hoped that in the future, such question similar to these will no longer be submitted to this blog for my advice.