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  1. #1 How to get a Chinese Motorcycle License 
    Senior C-Moto Guru ZMC888's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Zibo, Shandong - Sometimes SW England
    Getting a Chinese Motorcycle License


    It is illegal to ride in China without a Chinese motorcycle license. Overseas driving licenses (with the exception of a few countries with special agreements) and International Driving Permits are not recognized in China. Chinese driving licenses are accepted across China and can be used in most other countries for up to a year. The license is issued for an initial six years and is then extended by ten years each time it is renewed so long as you keep a clean license.

    Legally speaking any foreigner with an address, a Chinese name and a passport with more than six months remaining on their visa can apply for a Chinese driving license at their local Public Security Bureau traffic division. However this is often not straightforward because the Chinese legal and administrative system revolves around Chinese ID cards and ID card numbers, and using a passport can mean making things difficult, but there is a procedure and computer system for this. The ease or difficulty of obtaining Chinese driving licenses can vary from province to province or region to region. What is the case in one place, may not necessarily be the case somewhere else. Some smaller cities and cities that prohibit motorcycles will not issue licenses to locals or foreigners, some may not understand how to issue foreigners licenses, or not realize it is possible. In autonomous regions that have security difficulties it's likely to be much more difficult or prohibited for a foreign nationals to get a Chinese motorcycle license, and may make excuses to block the process as having free roaming foreigners is not seen as desirable. National laws are also 'interpreted' and this interpretation becomes in essence, the local law. Sometimes it can be difficult to obtain a Chinese driving license, but you need to be persistent and not take no for an answer in a polite yet determined manner. Usually you will need help from an English speaking local, unless you speak passable Chinese or you may even need a connection with a senior police officer through a network of friends or colleagues. Theoretically being on a shorter visa you can get a temporary Chinese driving license, but as an independent visitor it is unlikely that one could be issued unless for a car, or being part of overland motorcycle tour group with a guide, but it would be worth asking, especially if you are arriving at an international airport.

    Many foreign riders have ridden in China without a Chinese motorcycle license successfully, some even for years. In fact I did for over six years, believing the law to be ridiculous, as I already had a license from home. However, wherever people travel worldwide, being a resident in another country (with the obvious exception of within the EU) usually means transferring your license or taking a local test within a year, so really there is no excuse. Some foreigners believe copying the locals and riding an unregistered uninsured bike without a local license is fine, but in my view this is seriously asking for trouble especially if you were to hit a pedestrian or cyclist. Others believe in following the law exactly, which is very probably an excellent idea in Shanghai or Beijing and other massive cities, but outside of vast metropolitan areas may be overkill and seriously restricting yourself in the short term, being as legal as possible is often thought to be acceptable, but you need to fully understand the potential risks of breaking any laws.

    Bigger, wealthier cities can and do take licensing more seriously, whereas smaller cities and rural areas may not take licensing seriously at all, and seeing thousands of unregistered small displacement motorcycles and scooters may be quite normal in rural areas. These areas only take motorcycle licensing and registration seriously on a purge basis or in the event of an accident, sometimes not at all. Car and truck licensing and registration seems to be almost completely universal, whereas motorcycle, scooter and three wheel riders/drivers seem to believe it is optional.

    As time passes the whole country is taking driving laws more seriously which could potentially mean a maximum 15 days in a detention center (but a fine and motorcycle seizure is much more likely in smaller cities) or paying tens of thousands of yuan from your own pocket for riding without insurance to pay someones medical expenses after an accident, which probably wasn't even your fault. Easier to enforce rules are enforced first: Speeding, traffic signals, vehicle registration, insurance and driving license checks are top of the list.

    Previous to the new rules in 2013 it was possible foreigners to obtain a car and motorcycle license by passing the Chinese driving test if they had not already passed it in their home country. As of 2015 It seems there are fewer places where foreigners can take a complete test in English than before, however the hope is that will change over time.

    So given that you have an address, a Chinese name and a passport with more than six months remaining on your visa....

    • Find your nearest Foreign Affairs Office and pay them to translate your home license.
    • Find your nearest Public Security Bureau traffic division and present your home license, passport and stamped translation. (You may be required to attend a different specific Public Security Bureau traffic division than the one you are at). Then do a medical test, which is generally just an eye test including vision and colorblindness. They could weigh you and measure you heart or even do blood pressure, but they rarely bother. Then they'll take a special police photo, with which you will probably be given double the number of photos you need.
    • Pass the 100 test question multiple choice which will be booked at a specific Public Security Bureau traffic division or a specific testing center. (You will be told the location and the time, could be a few weeks in advance), and passing this test you will be required to score over 90 with two chances, and doing this will require some studying. If doing a car and motorcycle transfer you will do the car questions only.
    • Go back to the original Public Security Bureau traffic division, with all your information and your license will be ready in due course (could be same day).

    ****2016 update. The motorcycle question test is only available in Chinese, not English. However the car questions are available in English. This means you can ONLY get a Chinese motorcycle license by transferring a foreign car and motorcycle license at the same time or if you can read Chinese.****

    Some useful links...........!
    Last edited by ZMC888; 10-05-2016 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Update 2016
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