Bribe for Driver’s License?

Many of my friends are trying to get their driver’s license. The driver’s license exam consists of different stages of exams. Here are my experience:

If you want to Learn to Drive, you first sign up to a

driving school, and pass the Written Test for Driver’s License then Pass the Field and Road Driving Exam. That was pretty straight forward.

However, the straight forward thing is not so simple in Shanghai.

Give Money (bribe) or Not

My friends are discussing everyday is, whether they give the standard 200 RMB fee for each of the three exams (600 RMB in total). It is the “industry standard” that almost everyone knows.

For the written test, most people don’t pay the official for the 200 RMB, since if they can remember the answers, they can pass by themselves. Those who need “help” can pay the money, so the person at the test room will give you hint so you can make sure you pass.

For the stage two and three, especially for the field and road test, the rule of thumb from the previous people are, you should always pay the money. Since if you don’t pay, it is for sure that you don’t pass, and you have to pay another 100 RMB to take the exam again and you may not pass again.

For field test, and road test, four persons get onto the same car with the policeman (the person who gives you pass or fail result), and the four will drive in turn, and the “boss” will decide.

The rumor is (not verified, and I don’t think any person can verify), if three of the persons pays, and one person don’t way, it is for sure the person will fail, since there is quota. If all the four person pays, they will switch one person with another not paid (bribed) person, so they can give fail to at least one person for that car.

My survey is, more than half of people paid the government official to get passed.

System Problems, and Do We Still Hold the Hope

This is just one of the many small instances to prove that the system of this country does not work. No one is really upset because of the existence of this. Along with the red bags for doctors, and kick-backs of many transactions, I found it is a system combined interest, and power, and thus that can be pretty hard to fight against. It is especially hard with censorship, and control of media – most people are not aware of it (although everyone with a driver’s license in this city should have faced the dilemma).

I was happy that I didn’t pay anything the time I passed the exam. The initial result for me was “fail” – there are one thousand thing that you can say if the standard is just one person’s subject judgment. My tutor was nice and got back to the room to talk with the policeman, and 10 minutes later, my result turned to “pass”. I would suspect that I fail for the first time was because I didn’t give him the 200 RMB This was just my guess, since I don’t want to defame people for something I don’t have evidence. But, I have a pretty high confident that my guess can be true depending on what I heard about.

It is Easy Said than Done

I know many people who claimed to have higher morale standard will jump up and say: “Don’t Pay! Don’t Pay!” It is easier said than done.

I am the type of person who would stop at a broke (always red) red light at mid-night for 15 minutes, and then call the TV station, and then report the issue on the hottest TV program (the full story). I know there is something that we need to do, but I admit that even after reporting to Oriental TV, and waited at the cross road of Nandan Road, and Caoxi Road, around 11:30 PM for 15 minutes, I finally choose to pass the street at red light. My point is, we can do our part to fix the problem (like what I am doing by letting more people be aware of the issue), we are still individual living in this world, which already have so many rules (unwritten rules) that you need to follow. I just want to put a disclaimer here before tens of negative comments flow in pointing fingers to my friends who actually paid the money – pretty similar situation as you are stuck in the middle of a cross road with all directions showing red lights.

20 thoughts on “Bribe for Driver’s License?

  1. it is good for you guys have a specific amount of money, in beijing, it’s hard to guess.

  2. as much as i’d like to take the moral high ground, in this instance i think i’d readily pay. i have a friend who didn’t pass because she didn’t pay, even though she did everything else right. if it’s only 200rmb and i’m personally not going to be able to fix the whole system, i’ll just pay and get the license and be done with the whole thing.

  3. True – and for some of schools, they ask the money for the sake of your insurance.

    I heard teachers have to fail percentage of students, as they were asked to finish this task to meet certain quota.

  4. I have no comment on the ethics of paying a bribe to a driver’s test examiner. I will only say that anyone who needs “help” with the written exam should not be on the road – I took it recently, and it is EASY.

  5. Actually, the comments I got so far was very surprising for me – I thought sensitive topics like bribe in this article may cause some strong reaction, but it seems people CAN accept it. Well. It is ME this time who feel upset – it is NOT normal. People should not do it. It is a driver’s license exam anyway, and it is connected to people’s live and death. Even if I am OK when I fail because I don’t pay, I don’t feel OK to see someone (well, most of them) passes just because of the 200 RMB if he/she is not qualified to get a drivers’ license.

  6. 哈哈!这个话题写得很聪明,果然厉害!




  7. 所以啊,还是要从人的利益出发来考虑问题比较现实些,人们的心中可不管什么对错哦,只要对自己有利,它们都会去作的,只要想到个人的利益问题,这件事情就很容易想通了。



  8. Jianshuo, you said in the comment —

    [ “It is ME this time who feel upset – it is NOT normal. People should not do it. It is a driver’s license exam anyway, and it is connected to people’s live and death. Even if I am OK when I fail because I don’t pay, I don’t feel OK to see someone (well, most of them) passes just because of the 200 RMB if he/she is not qualified to get a drivers’ license.” ]

    ==I passed the driver’s license exam by myself .and I agreed with you on “It is a driver’s license exam anyway, and it is connected to people’s live and death”

    ==My suggestion is you translate it into your Chinese blog , where you will not feel upset , just have a try ! It is NOT normal indeed to pay money !

  9. Want to leave China because of this type of related issue ? You think the grass at the side is greener ? Think twice ! You are like jumping out of the crocodile’s mouth, and right into a waiting tiger’s mouth !

    What JS said is true. But it also happens in other country. Good guys and crooks are everywhere. You can’t run away from them. Just face them.

  10. what’s the point? rampant corruption is going to pull us all down eventually, the fact that you didn’t condemn it outright just goes to show the how pathetic it is, but I guess you are used to giving red packets through all stages of your life, so again, what’s the point?

  11. I’m the one who didn’t pay and passed in the first time. Am I lucky?

  12. I took a driving license exam in Shanghai Pudong a couple of years ago and did not pay a dime. Some people from our group, who were not so sure in themselves, did pay, others did not.

  13. 瞎说

    我没有pay, 都过了




  14. Did you hear of what happened in Beijing just inside Fuxingmen Bridge on Chang’an Avenue some years back? Red light at noon — 20 minutes on end! Nobody crossed, obviously. “E-police” (camera) watching over…

  15. Is there a computer test center in Pudong, or is the only place for this in Minhang? I went to the place in Minghang yesterday and they are giving me a test date that is 7 weeks from now. I’m quite sure that they “sell” the earlier test dates to agents or those who will give them a bribe. As a foreigner, I’m not sure how to deal with this issue. Any advice? I’ve already completed all the other procedures for the application (medical test, application forms, etc), so I feel its a bit useful to pay an agent for doing all this. I also dont mind doing the computer test myself since it doesnt seem difficult. I just dont want to wait 7 weeks to take the computer test.

  16. @Harry, I have no idea what to do in this situation. This is the typically way they do it. The same for “Hong Kong Permit”. It takes 7 days, but if you visit the office next to the visa center and pay enough money, they give it back to you the second day.

  17. Thank you for the high quality story it’s a delight to browse.

    Jake Penson

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  18. The new regulation for the ratio of Shanghainese and WaidiRen at driving exams adds to the bribery possiblities.

    It seems, and was reported by several driving schools, that Shanghai police only allows 10% 1:10 WaidiRen in driving exams. That leads to a waiting time of currently 3 months for non-native Shanghainese trying to learn driving here.

    Rumour has it, that an additional 1,000 RMB would speed things up…

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