×
Interested in our Partner Program for businesses or our Local Guide Program for experienced expats and digital nomads? Click here to learn more.
Expat Exchange - Driving in Shanghai 2024
Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In
Shanghai, China


Driving in Shanghai

By Betsy Burlingame

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Shanghai.

1. Consider Public Transportation Instead

Shanghai is a bustling city with a population of over 24 million people. The roads are often congested, and the driving habits of locals can be quite aggressive and unpredictable. Many expats and foreigners living in Shanghai prefer to use public transportation, such as the metro, buses, and taxis, which are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. The city also has a well-developed bike-sharing system.

2. Obtaining a Chinese Driver's License

Foreigners cannot drive in China with an international driver's license or a license from their home country. They must obtain a Chinese driver's license. The process involves a written test, which is available in English and other languages. You will need to provide a translation of your current driver's license, a health check, and your passport with a valid visa. It's recommended to contact a local driving school to help with the process.

3. Choosing a Car

If you decide to drive, smaller cars are recommended due to the heavy traffic and narrow streets. Electric cars are also becoming more popular in Shanghai due to the government's push for green energy, and there are many charging stations around the city. However, owning a car can be expensive due to high import taxes on foreign vehicles and the cost of obtaining a license plate.

4. Parking in Shanghai

Finding parking in Shanghai can be challenging, especially in the city center. Many residential complexes have their own parking lots, but they often charge a fee. Street parking is also available but can be difficult to find. The cost of parking varies depending on the location, but it is generally more expensive in the city center and cheaper in the suburbs.

5. Understanding the Traffic Rules

Driving in Shanghai requires a good understanding of the local traffic rules. For example, right turns on red lights are generally not allowed unless there's a green arrow. Also, cars are not allowed to stop in the yellow box at intersections. Traffic police are strict and fines can be high, so it's important to follow the rules.

6. Be Prepared for Aggressive Driving

Driving in Shanghai can be stressful due to the aggressive driving habits of locals. It's common to see cars changing lanes without signaling, ignoring traffic lights, and honking excessively. As a driver, you need to be alert and defensive at all times. It's also important to be patient and keep your cool in difficult situations.

AGS Worldwide Movers

Relocating abroad soon? Make your move with AGS! AGS Worldwide Movers is a leader in the international moving industry. Our experience and expertise allows us to guarantee our clients the best quality moving services.

Learn MoreGet Quote

AGS Worldwide Movers

Relocating abroad soon? Make your move with AGS! AGS Worldwide Movers is a leader in the international moving industry. Our experience and expertise allows us to guarantee our clients the best quality moving services.

Learn MoreGet Quote

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Shanghai, China

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world.
Get Quote

AGS Worldwide MoversAGS Worldwide Movers

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world.
Get Quote

Contribute to China Network Contribute
Help others in China by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in China.

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Copyright 1997-2024 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal Partners & Local Guides