Whether you’ve just finished high school and can’t wait to get your licence, or have been putting it off but you’re finally ready to take that leap, learning to drive can be quite a daunting prospect—as exciting as it may also be. While it’s considered a rite of passage to many, driving is more than that: it’s a life skill.
And while getting your driving licence in Malaysia is a pretty straightforward process, it can come across as confusing due to the number of steps you have to take before you can *actually* start driving on the road like everyone else. Below, we’ve broken down the types of driving licence, the steps to get one, and how to convert a foreign driving licence in Malaysia.
Types of driving licence
- LDL = Learner’s Driving Licence
Having an LDL, also known as an “L licence”, allows you to learn to drive under the supervision of a driving instructor from your driving institute. If you’ve not passed the JPJ driving test, this licence needs to be renewed every three to six months, and it’s only valid for two years.
- PDL = Probationary Driving Licence
The PDL is given to new drivers who have passed the JPJ driving test and subsequent procedures from your driving school. You’ll need to hold on to your PDL for a probationary period of two years.
- CDL = Competent Driving Licence
After completing a two-year probation with your PDL, you will be able to obtain a Competent Driving Licence issued by JPJ.
How to get a driving licence
To qualify for an LDL licence, you first have to be of age (16 for motorcycles and 17 for cars), be physically fit, not colour blind, and have good vision (able to see from a distance of 23 meters).
1. Register with a driving centre
- There are over 120 schools in Malaysia, so you can find one which is most convenient for you. Ask friends and family which they have been to, and their experience at the respective centres. Your experience can vary depending on your instructor, so take note on what your friends and family tell you about theirs. [Tip: Check this list of registered schools in Malaysia, or just search “driving centres near me” on Google and a range of options will come up.]
- Registration fees differ depending on the school, the packages you choose, and the type of vehicle you choose to learn.
2. Complete a five-hour lecture
- You’ll need to attend the full lecture irrespective of which vehicle type you’re trying to get your licence for. After signing up, the school should provide you with a textbook and questions you can practise with, which will be useful in revising for your theory examination (you can also do this through the JPJ app). While most complete the lecture in Malay, many schools now offer the course in English as well.
3. Pass the theory exam
- You will need to register yourself for the computer test (at a test center which your school may name), and later digitally complete 50 questions from the handbook previously provided. To get your LDL, a score of at least 42/50 (84 per cent) is required.
- The test includes vision and colour blind tests (in which you have to score 100 per cent) in addition to the 50 questions mentioned previously. These include questions relating to the Kejara System (Malaysian demerit system).
4. Complete another six hours of theory and practical lessons, involving basic knowledge of vehicle-related issues and vehicle care
- This will get you an LDL (learner’s driving licence).
5. Complete 16 hours (can go up to 22 hours) of practical preparation
- This is essentially preparing you for the road test with a licenced driving instructor who will coach you on the road. For cars, you can choose to apply for a D (manual) or DA (automatic) license.
*Those with a D licence can drive automatic cars as well as manual. With a DA licence, you cannot drive manual cars.
6. Pass the road test (slope, three-point turn, reverse parking, parallel parking, and driving on open roads)
- This will get you a PDL (probationary driving licence).
- Your instructor will schedule your road test once they are confident you can pass.
*Some schools offer free unlimited re-sits of the practical test until you pass, so make sure to check on this when deciding your payment structure.
7. Don’t get more than 15 demerit points on your PDL over the two years (and ensure you drive with the P plate correctly affixed on your car)
- This will get you a CDL (competent driving licence) which can be renewed every five years without having to retest.
Converting a foreign driving licence
It can be a bit of a hassle converting your foreign driving licence in Malaysia. For non-Malaysian citizens, you can do so if your visa is a Long/Short Term Social Visit Pass, you’re on the MMSH programme, or married to a Malaysian citizen. Furthermore, your home licence has to be equal to the Malaysian CDL or PDL licence; having a license for less than two years means you only qualify for a PDL. Additionally, your vehicle has to be class B2 (motorcycle) or D (car), and your licence must be translated into English (if it’s in a foreign language) by the embassy of the issuing country.
It’s advisable to contact JPJ or your driving embassy to be informed of all the documents required for conversion. All in all, it might just be easier to go through the Malaysian procedure (as described previously) to save yourself the hassle.
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