What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driver’s License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in Benin?
The IDP is considered a legal document for driving vehicles for foreign tourists. Since it already has the translation of necessary driver information, the local authorities can easily understand and access your details. One can also use this document to rent a car, as most car rental companies recognize IDP. Further, you can use it as an ID to book hotel rooms and rent apartments. During travel, you can use it as an ID instead of a passport, thus ensuring the safety of your critical documents. Please note that it is not a replacement but a supplement to your existing document. You will have to carry your original passport and driver’s license, but you may not have to show it every time. Without an IDP, you can drive only up to 90 days from the date of arrival in the country. But the Benin authorities mostly speak French, and if your original driving permit is in another language, you may have to wrestle with the authorities and the car rental companies. In such situations, IDP proves beneficial as it has valuable information in different languages from many countries.
How do you apply for an IDP in Benin?
You can apply for an International Driving Permit through our website. You must provide us with a copy of your national driver’s license, a few necessary details about yourself, and an updated photo. The photo has to be clear and a recent one. We offer legitimate documents and quick support to facilitate your travel to countries worldwide. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any further queries.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
The United Nations has called upon various road traffic conventions for the ease of people to travel abroad and drive in these foreign countries. Most countries follow either of these conventions: Paris-1926, Geneva-1949, and Vienna-1968. They consider the international driving permit legal and a supplement to the passport and national driving license. You can get this document and other essential information from our website.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Benin
Functionality as an ID
IDP is a document containing the information of your national driver’s license translated into various widely spoken languages. Your information can be understood and verified by the officials of any foreign country, and IDP serves as identification proof. You can use IDP and keep your passport and driver’s license safe whenever required.
Quicker traffic authority stops.
Benin has a lot of checkpoints for tourists. People in Benin are known to drive without a valid driving permit. As a result, the local authorities inspect vehicles randomly to ensure no illegal driving or carjackings occur. Here you will find the IDP will prove to be beneficial. If you get pulled over by the traffic police, you can get away by showing IDP, car rental proof, and insurance. Since IDP is a translation document of the driving license from your home country, the identification information can be easily noted. You will find yourself spending less time at these checkpoints.
Car rental companies
IDP is an essential document that the car rental companies require to rent you a car in a foreign country. The rental agencies require IDP along with your national driver’s license. If you don’t have an IDP, they may not rent you a car, overcharge you or demand additional documents. You can avoid such situations and save your time by carrying an IDP.
Laws requiring an IDP
Benin highly recommends getting an IDP if you plan to rent and drive a car upon arrival. It follows the Vienna road traffic convention, which dictates that the IDP is valid for a year. The local authorities are very concerned about the locals driving without a driving license and conduct regular checks. You may find yourself through multiple checkpoints and face a penalty or jail time if found without a valid driver’s license. Hence, to avoid such unwanted situations and hamper your time with your family, carrying a valid form of identification and international driving permit while visiting Benin is advised. You can use IDP to book a car, hotel room, or a place to stay in Benin.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Benin
Short-term visitors vs. residents
In Benin, you can drive a vehicle using your overseas driver’s license and an IDP. Benin has adopted more recently to the Vienna road traffic convention. Therefore, if you plan to stay for a long time (more than three months), you may want to get Benin’s local driver’s license. The IDP shall be valid for a year.
How long can you drive with a foreign license?
You can drive in Benin for 90 days from arrival. You must always carry your passport and domestic driver’s license from your home country. Benin recommends getting an IDP if you plan to stay for more than 90 days. According to the Vienna convention that Benin follows, the IDP shall be valid for a year. You can also use it to rent a car, book a hotel room, or rent a place in Benin.
When should I get a Driver’s License in Benin?
You can drive in Benin with a valid driver’s license from your country, passport, and IDP for one year. But if you plan to stay more than a year, you can get a driver’s license in Benin.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Benin
Renewing your International Drivers Permit
IDP is a one-time document valid for only one year from the date of issue. There is no provision for the renewal of IDP, and after the validity period expires, IDP is not considered valid. So, if you plan on staying for more than a year, you better get a local driving license.
Renewing your Original Driver’s Permit
In Benin, you must renew your license within 30 days from the expiry date. The permit will be renewed after three or five years for a fee of N3000.00 (around $4) for three years and N5000.00 (around $7) for five years. The overseas drivers will have to renew using an online portal as indicated on their website. You will issue the driver’s license after 60 days of applying.
Car Rental in Benin
Requirements for car rental
The minimum age to drive a car is 18 years old. But you’ll need to be at least 21 years old to rent a car in Benin. Foreign visitors need a valid driving license, passport, and IDP to rent a car. Few car rental agencies may ask for additional documents, which is not mandatory. So, before hiring a car, please be aware of the procedure and necessary paperwork to avoid unnecessary scams.
Deposit and costs
Typically, you can skip paying a deposit for renting the car by refueling the tank to full-to-full conditions (receiving the vehicle with a full tank and giving it back with a full tank). Generally, a 10% deposit is levied on these islands.
In Benin, the cost to rent a vehicle varies between the different car rental agencies. You must research and compare the deals offered by car agencies and find the cheapest option. However, the average cost of renting a car is $106, $746 per week, and $3,195 monthly. A Standard car rental in Benin City costs $98 per day, and a premium car rental in Benin City costs $266 daily. A full-size car rental in Benin City costs $168 per day. Standard (Hyundai Sonata or similar) is the most frequently booked rental car type in Benin City Few car rental companies also have automatic cars. The most popular car rental agency in Benin City is Avis, 2 miles from the city center.
Usually, it is a common practice in many countries to provide insurance when you rent a car. Car rental companies in Benin also follow this and add third-party insurance to the car rental package. This insurance will protect you from any damage to the other party in case of accidents. Additionally, you can add liability, medical insurance, and collision damage waiver to the package for more coverage. Car insurance is an essential document, and if the traffic authorities find you driving the vehicle without one, then a huge fine will be charged.
Driving and Safety in Benin
If you are planning to explore Benin by renting a vehicle, then you must follow the country’s driving rules.
Some things to remember are:
- People drive on the right side of the road
- It is recommended that you wear a seat belt for your safety.
- The maximum driving speed is 50 km/h (31 miles/hour) in urban areas, but you can speed up to 90 km/h (55 miles/hour) in rural areas.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly monitored in Benin. The permissible limit of alcohol is 50mg per 100ml of blood.
- Benin’s roads are typically in bad shape and frequently impassable during the rainy season.
- Benin has a periodic gas station shortage, so make sure to fill your tank before you hit the road.
- Avoid driving at night as cities lack streetlights, and many cars don’t have taillights, headlights, or brake lights.
- Driving at night is unsafe as numerous cases of carjacking and robbery are reported on the roads during the night.
- You might see the unexpected crossing of livestock across the street, so be cautious.
- Branches or leaves of a tree placed in the middle of the road indicate a broken vehicle.
- Road accidents are prevalent due to poorly maintained roads and overloaded vehicles.
- You must drive cautiously due to poor indications of construction activities and speed bumps on the streets.
Top 3 Places to Visit in Benin
Royal palaces of Abomey
Abomey, the former capital of the Dahomey Kingdom, was established in 1625 by the Fon people and is a top historical attraction. UNESCO has recognized the Abomey Royal Palaces as World Heritage Site. Abomey (Dahomey) was once one of the most influential and brutal kingdoms in West Africa. The bloodthirsty and dictatorial Kings of Dahomey were notorious for making sacrifices of human beings and painting their palaces with human blood. Benin’s Royal Abomey Palace complex is among the most intriguing places to visit. The palaces now serve as a museum that displays artifacts from Dahomey. The museum’s exhibits include ornaments made from human skulls, voodoo fetish artifacts and royal treasures from the Dahomey rulers. Sub-Saharan Africa’s most spectacular structures are the Royal Palaces of Abomey. They serve as prominent tourist destinations in Benin and as examples of the continent’s cultural and historical artifacts.
Ganvie is one of Benin’s most divine and significant locations. The leading tourist destination in the nation is the little village of Ganvie, located in the center of Lake Nokoué. Because of its rivers and absence of automobiles, Ganvie has been dubbed the “Venice of Africa.” Ganvié was established in the seventeenth century by the Tofino people. The town is well-known for its floating marketplaces and stilt homes. More significant buildings have been erected on islands formed of reclaimed ground. Ganvie will undoubtedly impart the vibrant culture of West Africa. By taking a lake trip on a boat, you can explore the floating hamlet and take in the beautiful hues of the residences.
Tata Somba region
The Tata Somba Region is a World Heritage Site located in the Atakora Mountains in northern Benin and Togo. This less well-known region of Benin boasts a distinctive cultural landscape. Koutammakou/Tata Somba is well known for its regional architecture on the African continent. The residents are still isolated mainly because there aren’t many roads or public transportation. The Betammari-be people, also known as Somba, live in this region. The region is located between the border of two nations. Even though this area is far away in northern Benin, crossing the border will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Visit the Tata Somba villages in Benin to view the distinctive two-story mud homes and the long-preserved stretch of undulating hills covered in baobabs. The design and architecture of the Tata Somba homes are impressive and worth the visit.
Am I required to have an IDP in Benin?
IDP is recognized and considered a valid document in more than 150 countries. IDP is an essential document to rent a car or place; you must always carry it apart from your national driver’s license when traveling in any foreign country.
Can you drive with a foreign license in Benin?
You can drive for 90 days with a foreign license in Benin, and you require a valid national driver’s license and passport.
What is the alcohol driving limit in Benin?
The allowable limit of alcohol is 50mg per 100ml of blood.
Is there any online portal to apply for IDP in Benin?
Yes, you can apply for IDP through our website and contact us to ask any queries.
How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in Benin?
IDP is valid for only one year from the date of issue.
On which side do you drive in Benin?
In Benin, you drive on the right side of the road.
Do you need a foreign license printed in English to drive in Benin?
You can get an IDP as it translates the information in your foreign license into the different widely spoken languages. However, you can issue the local driver’s license if you plan on extending your vacation as IDP expires after one year.