Drivers License: what a process
December 16th & 23rd, 2014
After my small accident a couple weeks before I finally came to the conclusion that I need to get my drivers license. Even if I do not stay in Taiwan for more than a year I think it will be easier if I have a piece of paper that puts legality on my side.
To start this process I printed off all of the questions/answers that could possibly be on the drivers test. Tealit.com has a link that provides all of the questions and the answers and a small practice quiz.
In order to start my drivers license process I went to the local Fengyuan DMV to pick-up the medical form only to find out through translations that if I go to a certain clinic they will have the form. Before I could go to the clinic I needed to go to a photo booth across from the DMV to buy drivers license photos, 150NT (5USD).
Once I was at what I thought was the clinic I discovered I had to go two doors down. I finally was in the correct clinic. The woman handed me a form that was all in Chinese. I told her “No Chinese”, so she asked for my health insurance card, ARC, and drivers license pictures. At one point while she was helping me fill out my paperwork she signaled that I needed to sign the document. I started signing my English name, but suddenly she stopped me and pointed to my Chinese name. I immediately started laughing. I can neither remember how to pronounce or sign my Chinese name, so I knew right away it was going to look awful. It is my signature though; it is supposed to look awful, right? With the paperwork finished I was brought back into the exam room to be weighed, measured, and get my eyes checked. I discovered that I need to get new glasses, but the nurse still passed me. With the medical exam over and done with I left the clinic having only paid 91NT (3USD).
Next was the studying. I didn’t have time to go back to the DMV until the following Tuesday, so that gave me a whole week to study. Normally I would just go and take the test. I already took a driving test in the states and I had been driving a scooter for four months. BUT, I had been cautioned that the questions seem like they were translated through Google translate so they do not make much sense. Therefore, I studied. It was so painful too. I just graduated from college in May, so the thought of studying is just annoying to me.
Fast forward to the next Tuesday. I have studied and am fully prepared for the test. I go to the DMV and start the drivers license form process. I get told to come back at 1:00pm, but they need to see my passport.
Side story about my passport. When you start working for HESS they offer you a 1,000USD start-up loan that is interest and tax free. I took it because I am nervous about money, but there was a catch. In order to receive the money you must let your branch hold your passport until the loan is paid off.
I had to go back to my branch, and talk to them about my passport. I was so frustrated about not having my passport when I needed it that I went to the bank and withdrew the money from my savings to go pay the loan off.
I went back to the DMV at 1:00pm to take my test, 250NT (8USD). I went in and took the test on a computer. I passed with a 95% (yay!). Then I had to wait until 2:00pm to take my driving test. I found out that the test wouldn’t actually start until 2:20pm. I watched as several people drove around a scooter course that kind of looked like the size of half a basketball court. I decided I should probably practice as well. An older Taiwanese man approached me and told me that I was driving too fast and needed to slow down (this came as no surprise to me). The driving test exam officer showed up at 2:20pm and walked us through the course. He thankfully translated everything into English for me and double-checked several times that I understood. It was finally my turn. I had to drive through the course twice because I was driving too fast the first time (still no surprise), but I passed!
Once I finished my driving test I had to go back into the DMV to sit through a 90-minute video/lecture about driving safety, all in Chinese. Except for the few questions that were asked in English I was sitting there bored out of my mind.
FINALLY, after spending my whole free afternoon at the DMV I received my license, 200NT (6USD). For identity reasons I am not going to post what it looks like, but it is valid for 7 years, which is more than enough time for me. It may just be a laminated piece of paper, but I already have a sense of security that comes with being legal and right with the law.
The total cost of my drivers license process in Taiwan: less than 1,000NT (30USD). Worth it!