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  • Getting a driving license in Malaysia

    Posted on December 9th, 2010 Andreas Linder 28 comments
    My driving instructor

    My driving instructor

    I guess unless you take your driving license straight away when you are of age, it could take a long time before you get going. I myself belong to one of those people, but I thought if I don’t do it before I turn 40, might as well not do it all. The prospect of the latter of course didn’t sit well with my wife, so one fine day I set out to sign up for a driving school. Actually it was my wife that pushed me to a driving school promoter in a shopping mall (thanks baby). Here I started on my journey to get a driving license, in another country, where they drive on the wrong side of the road, where lots of drivers seem like bad Schumacher wannabees, where there are far too many cars on the roads… this could be exciting, yeah?

    I have never had a driving license before in my life. Everywhere where I’ve lived before, I could rely on either public transportation or just using my bicycle. As a matter of fact, cars have mostly been a costly inconvenience.  In Gothenburg, Sweden I was faster moving around on my bicycle compared to friends who went by car. Then I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia… and here you NEED a driving license. Why, you may ask. Well, you cannot rely on public transportation here if you want to be on time. There is never a MRT station when you need one. The buses are never on time and if you go cycling in Malaysian traffic, you are either an adrenaline junkie or you have a death wish. You cannot even rely on taxis for regular transportation. Too often they don’t show up, don’t know how to get to your destination or just try to extort you (especially during rainy weather).

    So I asked around my local friends to see what was the driving school to go to and the answer was unanimous, Metro driving academy is the best. Before you ask why, I’ll tell you that they have courses in English (as opposed to many others), they have the largest test driving course, they have the most branches all over KL and I guess they are also the biggest player out there. When I was writing this article and checked Metro’s website, it appears to have been hacked.  I wonder who would want to hack a driving school website. Lol… some more the hackers seem to advertise website security services. I just have to put a screen shot of it here. Their headquarters is located off Sungai Buloh road in Kampung Melayu Subang. It’s actually very close to the sky park a.k.a. the old International airport.

    You can find it here:

    View Larger Map

    There is supposed to be another big driving test range facility close to PJ Hilton, near the federal highway, but I kind of found out once I was half way into my course. Since Metro is organizing free of charge pick up and drop off service to and from where I stay it didn’t really matter that much anyway.

    You may ask if it’s expensive to take a driving license in Malaysia. My reply is, compared to Swedish standards, hell no! In Sweden I guess at present day most people would spend around 20-30 000 SEK (2 800-4 300 USD) on their license if they go to a Swedish driving academy. I signed up for a all inclusive 28 h package with a driving license guarantee and no extra hidden charges at RM 1 400 (450 USD). I’d say I got a bargain here, but this is a major city, and if I’d taken my driving license out on the countryside I guess I would have gotten it considerably cheaper.

    OK, so first out, you have to be at least 17 years old, then there is a highway code test you need to pass. They will seat you in front of a computer and give you a test to make sure you are not colour blind and an eye sight at least better than a mole. This is mandatory and you have to score 100% in order to proceed. Don’t worry though, it’s a breeze and I finished it in less than a minute.

    After this you have to attend a 6 hours theory course where the teacher basically goes through the driver’s curriculum and teach you how to pass the theory exam. Once you have done this you have to take the theory exam within a year after taking your theory class.

    The theory exam you have to take at a official JPJ center (Malaysian ministry of road and traffic). There are 50 questions with multiple choice answers and I think you have to score 45 of them right to pass. I took the test the day after I finished my theory class and scored 49, easy! You don’t have to do too much studying. The most tedious thing to learn is the Sistem Kejara, which is a demerit point system for when you are committing traffic offenses. Most other things are just common sense.

    Once you pass the theory exam you have to go back to school and sit in for another class of 3 hours theory, but this time following 3 hours practice. Finally some action! These 3 hours are an introduction to the car, maintenance, yadi yada, until you can start practicing on the 3 events which includes, stopping and starting on a slope, parallel parking and three point enter and exit. This is to practice for the first part of the practical test, where these three events will be the first to pass before a JPJ officer will take you out to rate your performance in live traffic.

    Metro Academy official car, the Perodua KancilAll right, so obviously there will be an instructor sitting in with you while you practice on the test driving course. I was assigned to mr. Fathrul who is an extremely friendly, very patient and surprisingly sound, ex-street racer driving instructor. I’ve done a fair share of driving in Sweden before I went to the driving academy, so pretty quickly, I got to practice on my own in the (in)famous Malaysian made car, Perodua Kancil. The Kancil is named after the mouse deer (chevrotain) native to Malaysia according to Wikipedia. Locals swear, and I second, that it’s  a car equipped with a scooter engine on a chassis made from soft drink cans. It’s as small, if not smaller than a Mini Cooper, but I think I would feel safer in the British mini car.

    Anyway, once you pass your practical test, which you will do… trust me, then you are eligible for the “learner license”. Yep, you get a fancy learner driving license which basically entitles you to nothing, except that you are allowed to test drive on the roads with a certified driving instructor sitting next to you, in a car designed for driver learning. The Kancils that  I drove basically just had an extra braking pedal at the passenger seat and an extra rear view mirror where the vanity mirror usually goes. Anyway, this L license is valid for three months if I’m not mistaken, so once you get it, it’s time to sign up for those lessons with an instructor.

    My package included 10 hours of driving, which my instructor assured me would be more than enough, even if I was a novice at driving (which thankfully I’m not). Only 8 hours are actually used for practicing, then it’s time for the pre-test. A pre-test is basically your instructor pretending to be a JPJ officer sitting next to you and rating your driving skills. For me it was basically the same as if I had a normal driving lesson. Fathrul was actually more interested in learning about me and Sweden and of course talking about food than actually teaching me the ropes in driving. Now it’s not fair to judge him, he already thought I knew more than enough about driving and said I would pass with flying colours. But once in a while I had to remind him that I needed to learn. Basically the training is about learning to handle the car, once you master this, the instructor teaches you how to pass the practical test. Needless to say, this leaves out a lot of actual learning how to drive as a responsible defensive driver. However in Malaysia you are supposed to learn that once you actually get your driving license.

    So once I was ready and had finished all my 10 hour driving lessons, it was time for the D day. I went to the test driving range far too early in the morning and lined up with about 100 other nervous students waiting for the practical test to commence. Luckily I was the third student to go, but I pity the others that probably had to sit and wait for hours before they could start their tests.

    I got into a Kancil alone and did the three test driving events that I practiced earlier, stopping and starting on a slope, parallel parking and 3 point enter and exit. Easy! The JPJ officers on the course rated the performance and also timed the students how long it took them to complete each task. Yes, each task has a time limit of a few minutes each. The complete test driving range took me no longer than 10-15 minutes to complete. Once done, it was time to wait some more… After a while a JPJ officer came to pick me up and we sat in the Kancil to go for the the second part of the practical test, driving on live roads.

    This part of the test was divided into 3 routes. Each route was of a different length and with different difficulty. The JPJ officer will choose one or in exceptional cases two of these routes for the student to drive. Now I took my practical test during the Muslim fasting month, so the JPJ officer chose the shortest and easiest route. This way they could go back to resting quicker while waiting for breaking fast. If you have the opportunity and don’t feel too confident in your driving skills, I suggest you target the fasting month for taking your practical test. Anyway, for me the test was easily passed and I got 19/20 points.  The last point was lost because the JPJ officer thought I didn’t brake hard enough. In Sweden we are taught to drive smoothly so naturally I brake smoothly for the comfort of my passenger. Nonetheless, this concluded my driving course and in two weeks time I could pick up my new driving license at the driving school together with my P signage.

    In Malaysia once you pass your driving exam you are given a probationary driving license, “P” license. Once you have had this license for two years without incidents it will be converted to a CDL or competent driver’s license. You also have to clearly display on any car you drive during this time that you are a fresh driver on the roads. So on the front and rear wind screens you have to stick a huge white P on a bright red background. Should you forget to display the P’s or borrow your friend’s car without the stickers and get caught in a road block… there goes your license.

    There is another way to get your driving license in Malaysia which is called “Hassle free”. Basically you pay some under the table money to make sure that your exams goes without any hick up. Honestly, I don’t see why this would be needed unless you are extremely unsure on how to drive, or if you just don’t want to spend the time to do it the proper way. I hear that you pay around RM50-100 (USD 15-30) to get your L license and about the same amount to get your P license. I think you pay the driving instructor, but I’m not too sure. I heard some that got their license from car dealers who organized the whole thing. Anyway, I don’t see why you would have to do that, considering that a proper license is so cheap compare to the prices is the west. I also heard that “hassle free” license may get you in trouble later on, when you need to renew your license, although I have no confirmation on this.

    Whatever way you choose to get your own driving license in Malaysia I wish you best of luck although you will most likely not need it.

    /Andreas L


    28 responses to “Getting a driving license in Malaysia”

    1. Hej Andreas!
      Thanks for a great post. I’m moving from Karlstad to KL in June, and just like you I’ve never felt the need for a drivers license. Especially considering the insane amount of money we have to spend to get one here in Sweden… My girlfriend also took her drivers license there, so I guess it will be perfect for me as well. :)

      I will be following this blog closely from now on, so keep the posts coming! Always interesting to read the stories from Swedish expats in Malaysia. I can’t wait until I’m there myself. :)

      Hälsningar från ett förbaskat kallt och snöigt Sverige.

    2. Just so long as you don’t get a kopi-O license. :-)
      And to your blog, “Jette Bra!”

    3. Hej Andreas,

      Gud vad kul, hittade din blogg av en slump. Har läst massor av inlägg och börjar verkligen längta tillbaka. Om det är ok så länkar jag gärna din blogg på min.
      Är i KL i mars, kanske ses vi då!

      Ha det bäst och kramar!
      Eva Linder

    4. Thanks for your kind comments.
      Eva, glad to see that you found my blog :) Please feel free to link my blog to yours.
      I just found out that this article has been featured by the Scandinavian Society magazine SNOFIDA in their February issue. Their version is a bit shorter than the original on my blog though :)

    5. Hi.. I came across your blog while searching Google. I really liked the way you wrote everything. Very detailed and straightforward. However, I am interested in knowing how long did it take you to finish the whole thing, i.e. how many months is needed to start from doing the highway code test till actually getting your license? I want to know how to plan my time. (If you’ve mentioned it in the post and I’ve missed it, I’m sorry about that.)

      Thanks~ =)


    6. Hi Rachel, thanks for the praise, it’s always appreciated.

      If you can manage your time and work doesn’t get in the way too much, you should be able to get your license in 3 months from start to finish.
      However if you want to speed up the process you can probably ask your driving school to push the schedule a bit so that there is less waiting time in between some of the modules of the driving course.
      Minimum time to complete I think is 2 months, but I would rather you confirm that with the driving school. Just tell them it’s extremely urgent.

      Good luck!

    7. Hi again.. Thanks for your reply. I think I will have no problem in setting time aside since I’m still studying in college now. I only have 2 days of classes a week. =D

      I will definitely try to get started in learning to drive.. It’s well overdue.. Thanks again!


    8. I failed myu driving lesson today.:( cried buckets of tears.

    9. Hi Andreas,

      What the great post is!

      I ‘ve just moved to Malaysia from Sweden where I also almost got my driving license with a lots of practice, just miss a time to complete my a last step for theory test what’s a pity! Then I have to start all over again in Malaysia from last Feb.

      I am also taking driving course at Metro.
      May I know if you have any information of the service which could help me 100% pass on JPJ Test. I saw many friends who fail many times on JPJ Test at Metro.

      Actually. I will have my JPJ Driving Test on next Thursday. I definitely can drive very well on the road as my instructor said. However, everything depends on the luck on that day, and also Malaysia has some different rules which are only in JPJ test, (very different with Swedish rules which I got used to, and who knows! :)) which I might get it wrong when I get nervous on the D day.

      The thing is … I have family visit me next week, and from 15/4 I need to take care of them for 3 weeks so I need the License URGENTLY to drive them around and also for going to start working after that.

      I wants to make sure 100% pass JPJ Test next week very very badly!!! So, please kindly advice me if you have any ideal about this.

      Thank you very much in advance.
      I look forward to hearing from you soonest.

      Best regards,

      Lycka Ngoc

    10. Hi Lycka,
      Wow, lucky I checked my blog. I haven’t been on for a while.
      I hope you won’t go to bed early, since I’m writing this the night before your test.

      Actually, being a foreigner gives you an advantage to other local students who are taking the test. It’s not supposed to be like this but (sadly) it is. I guess it has to do with that JPJ officers become a bit uneasy around westerners and there is also the problem with the language. Most of the officers are local Malays and don’t speak very well English.

      There are no real short cuts to a guaranteed passed test, but as long as you can drive with confidence on the 3 routes that your instructor taught you, then you should be fine. Just remember the landmarks for when to use your indicator and be sure to make a full stop at the T junction of route nr 2. I’m sure the instructor taught you all this already.

      Actually, there is a small trick to score one extra point. When you brake, be sure to do it firmly. Not like an emergency brake, but not soft and smooth like we are being taught in Sweden. This is what kept me from scoring 20/20 points on the practical test on the real roads.

      Before the test, try to take the chill pill. I’m sure that more than half of the students that fail are victims of nervous jitters.
      Just take deep breaths, and remember, there is no spoon… 😉

      Wishing you the best of luck. Please write again and tell me the result (I’m quite confident that you will pass!)

    11. Hey Brenda,
      Get back in the saddle and keep trying. I’m sure it was just a case of nerves that caused you to fail.
      What part of the test did they fail you on?

    12. Hey IzZzy,
      I need inspiration!
      Do you have any requests on what you would like to know, or if there is anything you would like me to write about?


    13. Well, I have had one thing on my mind for a while, and that’s about health insurance. As a swede the system is quiet simple, and we never really have to think about all of that. But down there I figure it’s very different, especially as a non-citizen. I know you wrote about when you got the flu, and then it’s simple enough. I got an ear infection the last time I was there, and that’s no problem at all, very cheap and fast. But I’m more worried if I would get really ill or injured one day.

      How did you solve this? And what is the cost? I have read about some expat insurances, but they seem to be really really expensive. (perhaps because we never think about the cost here, as it’s mandatory and paid through our taxes. 😉 ) And some people have told me to get a Swedish insurance, but Folksam for example, says it’s better to get a local insurance if you plan to stay there for more then a year (or something like that). This really gives me a headache. :)

    14. Will do mate, give me a couple of days to a week

    15. Hi Andreas,

      Thanks a lot for your post. I’m a French foreigner living in KL, and it’s been months I’ve been looking for information about how to pass a driving license here!
      First, your post is very informative.

      I’m living in Bukit Bintang, the only driving school branch I’ve found nearby is also Metro. Good thing that they seem like being professional, from your feedback and other sources.
      However, all of their training (theory, practice, etc) happens in Suban Jaya (right?).
      Isn’t it any other good driving school located in the city center?

      Kind Regards,

      From France to Malaysia.

    16. Hi Tarik, thanks for the kind comments on my article. As for your question about driving centers near the KL city I don’t think there are any. I could be wrong but the schools need the test drive range as part of the drivers training. As far as I know there are two, one in Subang and another near PJ Hilton by the federal high way. None of them are near KL city though. This shouldn’t be a problem though since the academies arrange for pick up and drop off no matter where you stay. There are also branches all over KL for the driver training once you have your L license. Then you don’t need to go to PJ just to practice. However since the JPJ officer will rate you on your exam on specific routes near the test drive ranges it makes more sense to practice driving around there. Sorry for not having a good answer, but there may be others who know more about schools in KL city.

      Best of luck!

    17. Hi Andres
      I live in Srdang. The School does not have drivers around me.
      I want to get a motorcycle license. I have a car license. I go to class for motorcycle training.

    18. Hi Andreas,

      I just went to the Metro driving academy this weekend. But when I was told the price, it was RM1398, but PLUS an extra fee for foreigners making the total price RM1998. Was this the same for you? Or did you perhaps get a discount since you went to promotor at the mall?

    19. Hi Izzy,
      No I received no discount and I never heard of a fee for foreigners. My price was 1398 just like you say Strange, but maybe the fee is something new. Did you call in to the head office to verify if this is correct?

    20. Thanks, perhaps it is a new fee. However quiet high! It’s almost 50% extra you have to pay now. Aaarrgh. I think I will have to contact the head office to confirm this. The women at the front desk said that it had been there as long as she’d been working there (a year).
      Maybe you where fourtunate enough to get your licence before the added the fee, or they took you for a Malaysian… 😉

    21. Hey Andreas,

      How many months did you take to complete everything?

    22. Hi Gary,

      It was quite a while back, but I think I managed to get everything done in about 2 months. If you need a more exact figure I will try to find my notes and receipts and see if I got a better answer.

      Basically what delays the whole thing is that there is some mandatory waiting time between some modules in the course. I think for the theory exam you have to wait for minimum a week after completing the theory course module. Then of course, when you are done with the practical test it takes about two weeks before you can collect your P license.

      Is this answer enough?


    23. Hey Andreas,

      Yup that’s certainly helpful. I am aiming to complete within 2 months because I am currently studying outside Malaysia and can only be around for 2 months.

      The main issue is those red tape or waiting time. I will have to discuss this with Metro (arguably the best learning institute in Malaysia) further to see if it can fit my schedule.


    24. Hi Andreas L,

      I’m going to apply for driving class soon and your post was really a great help.

      Thank you. God bless you and your wife. :)

    25. Hey, I’m currentl learning driving at metro and i am having my jpj test this coming thursday but im worried because my instructor only taught me one route for the road test when there’s 3 routes.

      The one he thought me was route 3 i thk, the one where u need to take a u-turn and the other one that he taught me was route 1 which i only got to practise 1 and i barely remember the route!

      If only you could help me by giving directions for route 1 if you could possibly remember, i would really appreciate it.

      Thank you.

    26. Hi Nana,

      Don’t worry, 1 and 3 are the most common if I remember it right. 3 is the shortest one isn’t it? Usually the officer will ask yoh to go that route. But if you are not performing well on the test drive course they might ask u to take a longer route just to make sure u have the skills. Anyway, it is all depending on which officer you get. In any case I think and hope you’ll do great. It was so long ago for me that I don’t remember the routes anymore.

      If you make it past the test drive course I’m sure you will pass :)
      Do let me know how your test went. And sorry for not replying sooner. I just set up my blog on a new phone.

    27. […] angle, there is a blog written in 2010 about getting a licence in KL, which may be of interest: Getting a driving license in Malaysia. But be warned, as with so much else, the government changes its rules every month or two. Nothing […]

    28. I laughed alot when u mentioned about KL public transport, I hate driving, i had been Hitandrun accident when I was young, so I tried avoiding to drive in my life time. But…after I came here in KL, just realised to obtain the god darn sugar drive license in order to live here.
      Thank you for the all information you sharing. Danke!!

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