International Driving License – Using Foreign Driving License In Malaysia

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.

By | 2017-04-05T20:46:24+08:00 June 15th, 2010|International License|72 Comments

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  1. Hoodlum June 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Is there any restriction imposed for pakistani to malaysian driving license conversion ?, we just got refusal

    • Cikgu Yap June 16, 2010 at 4:12 pm - Reply

      Everything has been covered in the article above.

  2. Khanealam June 17, 2010 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Many thanks for sharing this info and i already read the article and really appreciate the help you guys providing to expats in Malaysia.

    Please keep up the great work.

    best regards,

    • Cikgu Yap June 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      I’m happy the articles seem to be assisting expats here.

  3. mk June 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    mr yap so just to confirm, those with valid driving licences may continue to drive as long as a official translation is available?

    • Cikgu Yap June 18, 2010 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Yes, you can drive here for a reasonable period of time. What’s reasonable, I do not know exactly.

  4. Sam June 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    hi this is Sam. from INDIA.working here past 5years. i have indian international driving license. so can i use that one to drive a car in can i apply local license???can u guide me how the procedure to take local license…TQ

  5. Syah June 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Sir, I am a Malaysian but i took my degree in India. So, when i was there, I took domestic license there. I mean India Driving license for car and motorcycle. Can I convert my license to Malaysia Driving License?

    • Cikgu Yap June 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      If your Indian domestic license is authentic, you shouldn’t have any problem converting it to Malaysian license.

  6. Rozy July 19, 2010 at 10:26 am - Reply

    I understand that, once we change our Malaysian license to International Driving license, we have to surrender our Malaysian Driving License because we are not to have 2 licenses in Malaysia. Since am not sure exactly when am going to UK but would like to change my Malaysian License to an International License, can I still drive in Malaysia using the International Driving License before I go to UK?

    • Cikgu Yap July 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      What you said is correct. Your IDL can still be used in Malaysia before going to UK.

  7. angel July 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    i have malaysian driving license and plan to stay in spain for work more than 3 years or more. can i use my malaysian driving licence in spain? or i need apply international driving license?

    • Cikgu Yap July 22, 2010 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Yes, Malaysian license can be used in Spain. Ideally, get an IDL before going over there.

  8. jugnoo August 10, 2010 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I am a Pakistani working in Malaysia. Can I use my Pakistani International Driving License in Malaysia?

    • Cikgu Yap August 16, 2010 at 10:20 am - Reply

      You should have no problem using your Pakistani IDL here, for a reasonable period.

  9. SYED September 5, 2010 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I am from India. I am working here(Malaysia). Can I use my indian IDL to drive a car here ? If yes means, could you tell me how long period (reasonable period) i can use my indian IDL ?

    • Cikgu Yap September 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      Indian driving license can be used in Malaysia for a reasonable period. For the exact time frame allowed, please check with the Malaysian Road Transport Department in Putrajaya.

  10. Chengjie November 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Cikgu Yap,

    I am a Vietnamese businessman , often travel to Malaysia for business and holidays and plan to have my second home status there. I have a valid driving license issued in Vietnam. Can you help advise whether it is valid for use in Malaysia? Or do I need to apply an international driving license? and Where should I come to? Thanks alot if you could help.

    • Cikgu Yap November 26, 2010 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Vietnamese license can be used for a reasonable period in Malaysia. Not necessary to change to IDL.

  11. Ck Chooi January 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Cikgu Yap,

    i’m a Chinese citizen and i’m international student in malaysia. i have a china driving license and i want to obtain a malysia license. can my license be converted to malaysia license? i remember reading one of your article regarding the converstion just want to confirm with this few documents i can convert my license? 1) certified letter on my china driving license in english, and 2) translation on my driving lisence in english? is this correct for the converstion? please adivse. because currenlty im in china and is more conviene to settle documents on my end . Thank you very much!

    • Cikgu Yap January 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm - Reply

      You can attempt to convert your Chinese license into Malaysian license. Try to get confirmation letter from Chinese authorities and get your license translated into English.

  12. Nirmal January 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    That answers most of the questions. Thanks for the insight.

    I still want to know if a tourist on a social visit visa holding an Indian Driving Licence (not International) can drive here for, say 15-20 days?

    I am on a family trip here. If I could rent a car and drive around, that would be wonderful!

    • Cikgu Yap January 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm - Reply

      Your Indian license should be able to be used here for 15 – 20 days.

  13. ann February 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Hello there,

    Please help clarify if there is indeed a ruling in Malaysian where one is only allowed to have one type of driving license at a time. Example Rozy´s case above where with the IDP,her malaysian license is then made void.

    There has been many mixed responses and I am hoping that you could help. Many thanks!!

    • Cikgu Yap February 17, 2012 at 11:42 am - Reply

      It used to be, when you apply for an IDL, you have to surrender your domestic license. But I understand of late, this is no longer practised. As such, which discretion is currently in practice, I am unfortunately unable to determine. You’ll have to ask the JPJ authorities to verify the true situation.

      • Achaboy September 21, 2012 at 11:07 am - Reply

        I am a Malaysian now residing in Australia. I took an IDL from JPJ in Oct 2011 and my Malaysian license was not surrendered. The 2nd page of the IDL says that it is valid in all the listed countries EXCEPT in the country of issue. That means I cannot use the IDL in Malaysia but I MUST use my Malaysian license to drive in Malaysia.

        • Cikgu Yap September 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm - Reply

          As far as I know, previously one has to surrender the domestic license upon issuance of the IDL. I myself have never set eyes on an IDL, what more the terms and conditions contained in it. It is my honest opinion that the Malaysian IDL can rightly be sued in the country of issue. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, why not make a visit to the authorities office for further clarifications.

          • Achaboy September 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

            I have written to JPJ, will wait and see whats the response like. thanks.

          • Tom May 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm

            Hi Achaboy
            Did you get a response from JPJ? I noticed on their website it says we need to surrender our Malaysian license but also read on a few car rental sites (and others) that your IDP is only valid when produced with your national license so am quite confused now

  14. Wallace September 3, 2012 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Hi Cikgu Yap! I am a Malaysian currently residing in Singapore. My Malaysian driving license has been converted to Singapore driving license. Is it legal for a Malaysian to drive a Malaysia registered car in Malaysia using Singapore driving license? I got many different response and need clarification. Many thanks!

    • Cikgu Yap September 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Yes, it’s perfectly all right to drive a Malaysian vehicle with a converted Singapore license.

  15. Wins September 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Dear Cikgu Yap
    I am a Malaysian who converted my MY driving license to SG license many years back. I am now returning back to MY for work. I realize that I’m blacklisted by JPJ because they said that one cannot have a MY and a SG license at the same time. I would want to own a MY car when I’m back but it seems that being in the blacklist, I may not be able to do so. Also, my SG license was revoked 4 years ago (I have satisfied the suspension period) and I would need to retake the driving tests. Can you recommend an agent/driving school in KL/PJ that can help with the process of un-blacklisting and re-gaining the MY license?

    Many thanks.

    • Cikgu Yap September 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      As your Singapore license has been revoked and the Malaysian authorities have blacklisted you, it is my opinion that you’ll have to resit for your test all over again.

  16. Mia September 21, 2012 at 1:54 am - Reply

    Dear Cikgu Yap,
    I have Vietnamese driving license, is it possible for me to convert it to Malaysian driving license? If it is possible, do i have to do the theory and practical test again?

    I find some websites can translate the driving license to international driving license. Is it reliable? ex:

    Best Regards,

    • Cikgu Yap September 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      If out authorities are satisfied your license is authentic and valid, your license can be converted. As for IDL issued by websites, I withhold my comment on it.

  17. Faith Emmanuel October 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you for posting this article. It’s been very helpful! However I just have a question.. I am an Indian citizen and my wife a Malaysian citizen, both of us residing in India. I have a valid Indian drivers licence as well as a valid Bahraini drivers licence. We will be goin to Malaysia to visit family. Can I use my Indian/Bahraini licence to drive in Malaysia? For the period I’m visiting that is.. Which will be less than 30days.
    Thank you..

    • Cikgu Yap October 13, 2012 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Valid Indian and Baharain driving licenses can be used in Malaysia for a limited period of 120 days.

  18. Hong Seek November 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    ank for your sharing. My friend from China is planning to Malaysia for side seeing around 5 days. She has a valid China driving license, Can she drive in Malaysia? if yes, do she need translated driving license into English?

    • Cikgu Yap November 21, 2012 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Chinese license can be used in Malaysia. Bring along translation in English.

  19. ali May 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    i had a non computerized license in pakistan, then i recently give tests before coming to malaysia and now got my computerized driving license. can i convert now because they said that recently got license cannot be converted to full malaysian license. how old it should be to get malaysian driving license.

    • Cikgu Yap May 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      I am not aware of what a non-computerised Pakistan license it, you are therefore advised to refer to the Malaysian Road Transports Department in Putrajaya for further advice. You can get a Malaysian driving license at 17 years old.

  20. Pearly August 12, 2013 at 8:45 am - Reply

    What is things need to do as I hv a friend with travel visa who has his Pakistani driving license now would like to drive in Malaysia. Hope you can help. Thanks.

    • Cikgu Yap August 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      Pakistani license can be used here time being for 120 days.

  21. tim January 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Hi My son passed his motorbike licence from Australia 2 months ago. He is coming to live in Malaysia for 1 year on tourist visa. It means that he must leave Malaysia for 1-2 days every 3 months and then return to his flat in Kuching. So in Australia he is on P plates. How long can he drive with his Australian bike licence and a International Drivers Licence? The IDL is valid for 1 year but how long can he use this licence in Malaysia? Terima kasih ;o) Tim

    • Cikgu Yap January 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      Your son’s license can be used here for a short period of time (about 120 days)

  22. Vasanth January 9, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Hi.. I am an indian working in malaysia for the last 2 months. I have a valid indian driving license. I would like to know whether i can use my indian license in malaysia without any attestation. If so, please tell me the malaysian government law section stating the period of using indian driving license in malaysia. Thanks in advance.

    • Cikgu Yap January 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      Like in other countries, foreign driving license can normally be used for about 120 days.

  23. hassan August 17, 2014 at 2:32 am - Reply

    salam i am from pakistan i want to know how to get malaysian licence is it easy to get … because many of my freind told its not easy to get it here as they refuse to give international students local lic i do have my local lic pakistan and international also here kindly help me .. as i am law abiding person i dont want to break laws

    • Cikgu Yap August 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      Dear Hassan, If you have Pakistani licence, try to get it converted to Malaysian one. Failing which, you can then try getting a local one.

      • hassan August 22, 2014 at 1:04 am - Reply

        kindly can u contact me on email please ?
        whats your email or do contact on mine

  24. hassan August 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    my freind went once jpj they refuse they said not for bachelor degree.. can u confirm if they are doing for pakistani students bachelor degree

    • Cikgu Yap August 24, 2014 at 12:03 am - Reply

      Dear Hassan, the authorities only allow conversion by professionals with degrees.

      • hassan August 24, 2014 at 3:23 am - Reply

        HELO CAN U CONTACT ME ON EMAIL here it would be not possible to talk.
        a guy i know he got one year a go thats why i have many question if u contact via email will be great

  25. jacky August 26, 2014 at 2:32 am - Reply

    hi cikgu yap .. i am international student desire to drive in malaysia whats the procedure of getting driving licence ?guide me ..i know driving so what i need to do for test prepration?

    • Cikgu Yap August 26, 2014 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Please read the post on this blog on how to get a Malaysian driving license.

      • jacky August 26, 2014 at 8:38 pm - Reply

        can u contact me on email?

  26. Selladurai Premakumaran October 8, 2014 at 5:32 am - Reply

    Hi There,
    I have UK as well as Canada Driving License .Do I have to apply for an international driving License to drive in Malaysia? Can you guide me on this subject at your earliest convenience.?. Thank You.

    • Cikgu Yap October 8, 2014 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Your UK license can be used to drive in Malaysia for a reasonable time period (2 – 4 weeks). If you need to drive here longer, you may request for your UK license to be converted to a Malaysian driving license.

  27. roshan October 24, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    hello, i am from srilanka visiting Malaysia . is it possible for me to drive here in Malaysia with my Sri Lankan driving Malaysia. Thank you

    • Cikgu Yap October 31, 2014 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      Dear Roshan, Yes, you can.

  28. Chloe November 1, 2014 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Hi Mr Yap, my friend from Egypt. He is working in Malaysia. He had a valid egyptian driving license. He is wondering that whether he can use egyptian driving license to drive in Malaysia or need to convert to Malaysia driving license?

    • Cikgu Yap November 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Dear Chloe, See Malaysian authorities to confirm if Egyptian licence can be used here. Then ask if the above ca be converted into Malaysian licence!

  29. tom April 27, 2015 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Mr Yip,

    I have a UK driving licence, and am driving my father in laws car. Im a little worried that if i get pulled over there will be a problem? Or os it no different than my wife who drives the car?

    Kind Regards


    • Cikgu Yap May 4, 2015 at 11:11 am - Reply

      You can drive here a short while. Test for Malaysian license later.

  30. Nik Zurin August 8, 2015 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Hi Cikgu Yap,

    I’m a Malaysian citizen who worked in the US for a year in 2013. I have both a valid Malaysian and US (state of Arizona) drivers license, class D. When I was in the US, I took and passed their Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) training course and got a motorcycle endorsement on my Arizona license. I rode in the US for about 5 months (2011 Kawasaki Versys 650) .

    When I came back I applied and got an International Drivers Permit (IDP) with both car and motorcycle endorsements. I’ve purchased and have been riding a big bore motorcycle (2014 BMW R1200GS) for the last 1 year in Malaysia. Should I think about converting to a local full B license (is that even possible), or is it not necessary as long as I have a valid US license and IDP. I’m hoping I don’t have to take the theory and practical JPJ class to get a full B license as I believe I’m a competent rider with about 2 years of superbike experience. I commute to work on my bike everyday and have gone on long distance rides on weekends.

    Appreciate your advice and feedback! Thank-you!

    Best Regards,

    • Cikgu Yap August 12, 2015 at 11:59 am - Reply

      Though your US license for big bikes is usable here, nevertheless you query of whether it is allowed to be converted into local B Full license, only JPJ can determine. I suggest you visit any state transport department to seek an answer. After you have received an affirmative or otherwise can you then make a concrete decision of what you should do.

  31. Ashad December 30, 2015 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I’m an undergraduate student in malaysia I went to Sri Lanka embassy to get a letter In order to convert my Sri Lanka license into malaysia license. But in my embassy they said under graduate students don’t have to convert they can just drive using Sri Lanka license but phd and workers only have to convert. Is it true. ? Can I trust them ?

  32. Melissa June 29, 2016 at 1:02 am - Reply

    Hi Cikgu..

    I am Malaysian, living in the US.. I am home visiting my parents for a short period of time. I have a valid US drivers license. I did not get an International Drivers Permit before I came home. My Malaysian drivers license expired 10 years ago.

    Am I able to legally drive in Malaysia with a US drivers license for 2 weeks? Would I be able to “renew” my Malaysian drivers license, or would I be required to take the test (theory and written) again?

    Thank you !

  33. Alfred October 6, 2017 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Hi Mr Yap, I am an MM2H holder can I use my Singapore IDL to drive in Malaysia because I heard if I convert to Malaysia driving license I have to cancel my Singapore driving license in that case how can I drive my Singapore car in Singapore. Please advise

    • Cikgu Yap October 28, 2017 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Singapore IDL usable in Malaysian. Not necessary to convert to Malaysian driving license.

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