Foreigners' guide to buy, drive cars

Last updated on Feb 28, 2012

When purchasing a car, a foreigner needs to submit:

A passport and its translation paper with its visa endorsement to the Suzhou government; the remaining period of the visa’s validity should be no less than six months; the remaining actual period of validity of a temporary residency should also be no less than six months.
A Foreigner meeting the above criteria can apply for a car number plate in Suzhou and a vehicle license to drive in the city.

Application process for a driver’s license by foreigners and residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan:

1. Fill in the Application Form for Driver’s License;
2. Receive a health check;
3. Submit ID cards, including passport (photocopy and translation) for     inspection;
4. Submit residency papers for over one year for inspection;
5. Submit four 2.5-centimeter color photos;
6. Receive training at the vehicle management office;
7. Take an examination at the Suzhou Guanshan Driver’s Test Center.

Transferring driver’s licenses from foreign nations, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and international driver’s license:

1. Fill in Application Form for Driver’s License
2. Receive a health check;
3. Submit passport (original and its translation) for inspection;
4. Submit residency paper of over one year for inspection;
5. Submit driver’s license from foreign nations, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and international driver’s license for inspection;
6. Holders of driver’s license from foreign nations, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan should pass an examination on traffic regulations, relevant knowledge, as well as a road driving test;
7. For drivers with more than three years of driving experience, the road driving test will be exempted.
8. Change driver’s license at Suzhou Vehicle Management Office.
9. Get examination at Suzhou Guanshan Driver’s Test Center.
Taking the test

In Suzhou the test can be taken in many languages, English, French, Russian, Japanese, Spanish and of course Chinese.  But it is still best to take a translator with you as not many people in the Driving License Bureau speak any other language than Chinese.

If they are not busy you can take the test on the same day.  When you arrive and register they will give or lend you a Highway Codes book so that you can revise for your test.  Most of the questions are common sense but some of the signs and road marking have different meanings to what we are use to.  So it’s best to give yourself some time to have a look through and familiarise yourself with the many rules.  Once you are ready you can take the test.  The test is on a computer with the languages of your choice.  All the questions are multiple choice.  You have to score 90 or above out of 100.

Suzhou Vehicle Management Office: 1 Chiyun Road at Tayuan Road, Suzhou New District

Suzhou Guanshan Driver’s Test Center: Xingxian Road, Xuguan Town, Suzhou New District

Contributed by Sharrif Tbealeh, who has bought a car in Suzhou

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