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License plates

A license plate is required to ride in China. It is illegal to drive an unregistered motorbike on the road, check the province for the type of plate required. Do not ride without a plate, the bike will be conficated at the very least, fines for sure and worse still you could find yourself in serious trouble with police. Shanghai plates range in price from 125,000-10,000RMB (current 2015 price). 


If you have a real license plate (any province) you are insured under the governments compulsory insurance. You need to display the insurance inside your license.How good or robust this ‘compulsory insurance’ is anyone’s guess therefore we suggest to also get a third party foreign insurance package specifically tailored to foreign riders in China. 

Do I need a Chinese Motorbike drivers license?

Yes. It is illegal to drive without a valid Chinese motorbike (D or E) license.

Can I use an overseas or international license?


How to get a Chinese Motorbike drivers license? (D or E endorsement)

This is actually surprisingly simple and the steps are detailed below

There are two methods. Transferring from a overseas motorbike license (or car license with motorbike/scooter endorsements), or Starting from scratch.

Transferring from an overseas motorbike license (or car license with motorbike/scooter endorsements).

Step 1.

Go to Shanghai Interpreters Association, Address: Room 1607, 1277 Beijing West Road, get your overseas license translated. Do not forget to remind them to include the motorbike endorsement. Some car licenses include driving up to 50 or 150cc motorbikes on the car license. Don’t forget to point this out to the translator.

Step 2.

Then take your passport, Chinese visa (can be any kind of at least 90days), police household temporary registration form, overseas license and approved translation to 1330 Ha Mi Road, Changning. Enter the building to the left of the entrance and do the registration and health check. Do no not forget to double check you are getting the motorbike endorsement as they often forget. The motorbike endorsement is ‘E’ and we cannot stress how important this is. The number of people who have gone through the whole process only to find they recieved only the car endorsment is remarkable, after which chinese law requires a 1 year wait to get this problem fixed.

Step 3.

Go to the police building just to the right of the entrance you came in with your health check forms and all other documents and proceed to second floor. Keep walking into the back room and get a number and register with the police to do the 100-question theory computer test. They will check your documents then book you in for a test date, generally about a month later.

Step 4.

Download the App ‘Drive in China’ and/or China Driving Test Pro’ and start studying.

Step 5.

Come back with all documents and do the test in English. You need to get at least 90 out of 100 in the test to pass. If successful, pay the cashier and your license is given to you immediately. If unsuccessful you have to book another time.

Starting from scratch

Step 1.

Go to the license testing center on Guangdong Lu, Pu Tuo district. Take your documents passport and visa, police registration form. There is a little registration office next to the entrance. Bring a Chinese speaker.

Step 2.

Book in for the practical test. Involves listing in Chinese about the ins and outs of a motorbike for a few mornings, if you don’t fully understand it wont cause to many problems the main thing is you are able to driving around some cones. Cost is now around 1500RMB

Step 3.

Then take your forms from this and head to 1330 Ha Mi Road, Changning and follow instructions 1-5 as above.

Although this method has been successfully completed by forigeners, it appears to be a lot more difficult and it is much better to get the license in your home country and doing the switch here.

What is the points system for licenses I keep hearing about?

China has a 12-point system for violations – speeding running red lights, riding on out of town plates etc.

The points are 12 month cumulative. They are always changing but range from 2-3 points for riding on out of town plates, 6 points for a red light and 12 points for drunk driving. Be aware there is often a fine and can change at short notice.

What happens if you lose all 12 points?

Lose all 12 points then your license sits at the police station and you need to go and re sit and pass the computer test. The re sitting is much less hassle than the initial test.