No tests needed under deal that makes it easier to obtain a permanent licence Hong Kong drivers will be able to apply for permanent mainland licences without sitting a test from January 1. Hong Kong residents holding a valid driving licence for private cars will be able to get a six-year mainland licence without needing to take a written or driving test or have a mainland residential address. Applicants will have to apply in person at licensing offices of the Guangdong Public Security Bureau and undergo a medical exam. The new arrangement, announced by the Transport Department yesterday, also applies to motorcycle licences. Hong Kong already issues driving licences to mainland motorists without the need for tests and the new scheme makes the arrangements reciprocal. Drivers who commit traffic offences on the mainland could have their licence cancelled and be barred from getting another for up to five years. But the new scheme does not mean Hong Kong motorists will be able to drive their own cars across the border. Only cars registered on the mainland under a quota system can be driven there. At present, only 9,700 private cars in Hong Kong are registered by the Guangdong Public Security Bureau and allowed to cross the border. Motorists' groups have called for the abolition of the quota system. Hong Kong Automobile Association chief executive Andrew Windebank welcomed the new scheme, saying it would be more convenient and less time-consuming for Hong Kong motorists. Until now, Hong Kong residents could only apply for temporary licences. For permanent licences, they must have lived on the mainland for at least a year and undergo a test. 'It is very good news for Hong Kong businessmen and motorists as the driving licence application procedure in the mainland is being streamlined,'' he said. 'For the motorists, it will be a lot easier for them to hire a car in the mainland. And for the businessmen, it will make their life easier as having a mainland driving licence will save time on finding transport to take them around.' Mr Windebank said he expected a minor surge in licence applications 'because people will think that it is a nice thing to have'. Hong Kong Container Transportation Employees' General Union chairman Chiu Chi-keung said Hong Kong drivers should apply the same safety-first and patient attitude while driving on the mainland. 'Hong Kong motorists should have no problems with driving skills. However, they may not be familiar with the road signs and must learn to master them from practice. How to negotiate a roundabout on the mainland is one example,' he said. Avis Hong Kong general manager Susannia Fung said the relaxation might encourage Hongkongers to hire cars on the mainland. 'However, we will not offer a cross-boundary car rental service just because the licence application procedures have become more convenient,' she said.