So long story short my Ethiopian driving license is not easy (ie. nigh impossible) to convert to any other license in an easy or cost effective way so earlier this year I decided to embark on a journey to get myself a proper Malasyia the “old fashioned” way.  Which meant starting from ground 0.  This is my journey …

It all started with finding an instructor, not because I needed help with the driving, but to help with navigating the system.  Through a friend I connected with Mr. Kalai  who runs his own driving school (+60 16 205 3015‬ ).  He is punctual, eloquent, and is organized.  I highly recommend him.

Now for the sequence of how it all works:

  1. Obtain a new JPJ road manual book (each book has a serial number that is used as a unique identifier).
  2. Sit through a mandatory six hour course on driving safety and theory that is all in Bahasa.  I took the course at Surfine Hi Tech and caught up on some reading on my Kindle.  Before you start the session you are finger-printed and once you exit the session you are finger-printed (hence the time factor).
  3. Take a computerized road theory exam in which you need to score above 42/50 questions correct.  To practice you can download this App on the iTunes store or this app on the Google Play store.
  4. Document a minimum of 15 hours “on the road” driving.  This is documented by you and your instructor through a fingerprint reader.  During this time you will prepare for the road test which is done in two parts.  The first part is road driving exam where you have to memorize two routes, one of which you will be asked to drive during your practical exam.  The other part is the obstacle course withing the Surfine Hi Tech compound which consists of rolling up a hill and stopping the tires within a painted mark, parallel parking, a three point turn, and an S route.
  5. Take the practical driving “pre-test” which is a guided exam of the practical portion of either the driving route or the obstacle course.  The purpose of the pre-test is to demonstrate you have sufficient skills to be able to receive a formal exam date.
  6. Schedule an exam date assuming you have passed the pre-test.
  7. Take the practical driving test which is comprised of both parts.  You will need to get to the testing side early.  I got there at 7:30.  They open at 8:30 and start to call students up according to their session and testing number.  The first part of the test that you have to pass is the RSM and RPK portions.  The RPK is basically the rubber stamp part of the exam where you walk around a demo car and do a visual inspection talking aloud as to the condition of the vehicle and whether it is safe to drive.  The RSM is where you check the car on the inside, adjust your seat, the mirrors, etc etc.  Then you will move on to both the obstacle course and outside road driving practical exams.  Assuming you pass both then you are given a little piece of paper with “lulus” stamped on them.  This is your ticket to a new license.  As you get this paper make sure your ID number is written correctly as the JPJ office will check when issuing the license.
  8. Go to a JPJ office to collect your license is the quickest and easiest method.  It took me all of 10 minutes.  Very efficient.  Bring a passport size picture on a white background and 120 RM (for foreigners).
  9. Done!  Your first license has a P sign on the top right which stand for “Provisional,” meaning that you need to display a P sticker on the vehicle you are driving on both the front and rear.  After two years, assuming all is well, you can then renew for up to 5 years and it will be a “competent” license.  Note that the P limitations largely only apply to Malaysia.

Lancia Malaysia driving license