Driving is one of the most common forms of transportation to get around the city. In order to drive, expats must apply for a Chinese license if they already hold a driver’s license from their home country since Chinese law forbids the use of international licenses. If you do not have a driver’s license already, it is strongly recommended that you obtain your driver’s license in your home country first and then acquire a Chinese license to avoid driving lessons and road tests in the Shanghai traffic (and we all know how dangerous that could get.)
For starters, go to the Shanghai Vehicle Management Bureau with all the required documents, including a photocopy of your passport along with the real one, a 90-day or more valid visa, an application form from the local police station, a health certificate or a health test at the bureau for an additional 60 RMB, 40 RMB for the driver’s license mugshot, your original license, that is valid for more that six months, plus a few photocopies. Lastly, it is important that you make sure all your documents are translated in Chinese before all are handed to the bureau, but in case your Chinese ability is relatively weak, services are available specifically for translating foreign documents into Chinese.
At the bureau, there will be an application for you to fill out.* Once completed, the bureau will scedule a test date for you. To pass the test, you just need to follow three simple steps: download the test questions, memorize the test question answers, and answer 90 correct questions out of the 100 questions that are randomly selected from a total of 1,500 questions in 45 minute computerized test. If you are worrying over how to read a Chinese test, do not sweat it; the test is also available in English, French, Spanish, Japanese or Russian. If you pass, they will print out your driver’s license on spot but if you fail, you must schedule another time to re-take the test.
*Apply for the C1 & E license, not just the C1 license, since the C1 license does not grant a motocycle license like the C1 & E license does.