International Driving Permit Sierra Leone

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 International Driving Permit work in Sierra Leona?

An International Driving License is not permitted for use in Sierra Leona as a translation of a driver’s license. Only having this document will result in a tourist being unable to drive here.

An IDP is legally required to drive in Sierra Leona since most authorities here do not speak English and will not understand or take the time to translate a foreign driver’s license. Any tourist wishing to drive in Sierra Leone legally must have an IDP.

Applying for an IDP

Thankfully the application process of getting an IDP is easy and convenient. Anyone with a full driver’s license from their home country can apply for an IDP through our website – “insert website link.” The applicant will need to fill out an application form and submit the following documents:

  • National driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Completed form
  • Signature
  • Debit/credit card for payment

How much does an IDP cost?

Getting an IDP before a trip does not need to be a huge process! Obtaining an IDP through our website costs as little as $49 annually!

How long does it take to get an IDP?

Once all required documents have been submitted correctly, how long it will take for an IDP to arrive will depend on the applicant’s chosen process. Ordering online from our website using a standard method means a digital IDP will arrive by email in 2 hours. Standard delivery times to get a physical IDP delivered to your address vary, but generally, it takes around 2 – 30 days.

Our website offers an express method for those in a hurry, including express shipping or an added fee. Choosing an express method will result in a digital IDP delivered by email in only 20 minutes! Express delivery of the physical IDP is excellent for those short on time, as it will take just 2 – 14 days for a physical IDP to be delivered to the chosen address instead.

United Nationals road traffic agreement

The United Nations Road Traffic agreement was the agreement that was made by 150 countries in the UN to implement the use of IDPs in these countries. The discussions and implementation occurred over the series of 3 automotive conventions in 1926 in Paris, followed by one in 1949 in Geneva, and the last in 1968 in Vienna.

Throughout the UN conventions, the discussion to implement IDPs was made, allowing drivers to use an IDP is a translated form of license in all countries that agreed to it. One of the most extensive discussions was allowing governments to legally authorize other automotive associations to issue IDPs on the government’s behalf.

Benefits Of Carrying An IDP In Sierra Leone

Legal requirement

The most important reason for any tourist in Sierra Leone to carry an IDP is the legal requirement to choose if they wish to drive here, which will give all international drivers valid driving privileges in Sierra Leone. Failure to have an IDP will result in the tourist being unable to drive during their visit.

Internationally recognized for Identification.

Another considerable benefit of carrying an IDP in any foreign country, including Sierra Leone, is its ability to act as a form of international Identification. Since it contains translations of important information such as a driver’s name and driver information details, it makes a great form of ID for any tourist to have.

Car rental companies

Most car rental agencies will require tourists to have an IDP when driving in any foreign country, Sierra Leone included. If a tourist wishes to rent a car during their trip, an IDP is a necessity.

Driving Requirements For Non-citizens’

Short-term visitors vs. long-term visitors

Short-term visitors staying in Sierra Leone for one month or less can drive with an IDP for their stay.

Any long-term visitors staying longer than a month or becoming a resident in Sierra Leone need to acquire a local driver’s license instead of continuing driving here.

When Do I Need To Get A Driver’s License In Sierra Leone

Once an international driver has stayed longer than the IDP validity period (1 month), a Local Sierra Leone driver’s license will be required to continue driving here. Visitors can acquire a Sierra Leone driver’s license by visiting the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority offices and applying. The following steps will be required:

  • Submit relevant documents such as a domestic driver’s license, a passport, visa, two passport-sized photos, a resident or work permit, and the applicant’s social security number, and fill out a driver’s license application form.
  • Any driver whose license is not in English will be required to get an official translation.
  • Drivers may be required to sit a written skills test, and drivers may have a physical driving skills test. The application must also pay the special registration fee to obtain a Sierra Leone driver’s license.

Renewing Your IDP Or Driver’s License In Sierra Leone

A tourist cannot use an IDP for longer than one month in Sierra Leone, so anyone wishing to drive longer cannot renew their IDP for Sierra Leone. However, if a tourist is leaving Sierra Leone, they can renew their IDP to drive to another country from here. Contact the IDP issuer to have a renewal sent to the applicant’s address, and ensure all the relevant documents are in order before doing so.

If a driver needs to renew their driving license for switching to a Sierra Leon driving license, they need to contact the road licensing offices of their home country to have a renewal done. Depending on the country the license has been issued, they may be required to send back the current license.

Vehicle Rental In Sierra Leone

The best way to see everything Sierra Leone offers is by car. Taxis can become expensive, and public transport outside the main cities is unreliable and often doesn’t travel to many tourist destinations. Not having a rental car can add extra stress and become time-consuming for tourists, so car rental is highly recommended in Sierra Leone for the best visit.

The minimum driving age in Sierra Leone is 16, but for renting a car, a driver has to be a minimum age of 21. Many car rental companies will charge a young driver’s fee.

Renting vehicles in Sierra Leone

Renting a car in Sierra Leone is an easy process. Many big-name car rental agencies are located here, such as Europecar, Flash Vehicles, and the local Cerra Automotive. Shopping online will guarantee tourists a better price and allow a tourist to view and select from many different types of cars.

Most car rental companies are set up inside and around the airports, such as Lungi International Airport. Tourists can arrange to have their chosen rental car picked up and dropped off from the airport or inside any o the offices in Sierra Leone.

Vehicle rental costs

The cost of renting a car can vary greatly depending on several factors. The type and size of the car, driver’s age, insurance required, and any add-ons requested such as car seats, wifi, or GPS.

A young driver’s fee is a fee that is added to car rental prices for more youthful drivers aged between 21-25. This is primarily due to the increased insurance risk associated with inexperienced drivers driving on unfamiliar roads, which can be expensive. If an older, more experienced driver is present, it is finically better to allow them to rent and drive the car instead.

In general, car rental in Sierra Leone is relatively affordable for most travelers. When considering the cost of multiple forms of public transport alongside taxis, car rental tends to be a more affordable option in the long run for tourists. Prices in Sierra Leone can start from around $30 per day for an essential car and work up to $100 per day for something more luxurious.


Insurance is legally required on all cars in Sierra Leone, whether private motor vehicles or rental cars. A minimum insurance policy for third-party, fire, and theft is permitted; however, many insurance companies will require tourists to purchase additional insurance such as LDW and CDW.

Documents required

All car rental agencies in foreign countries will request documents from the renter to rent a car. The following documents will be asked for:

  • National driver license
  • An IDP
  • Identification, such as a passport
  • Debit/credit card for payment

Failure of any tourist to have the necessary documents upon arrival to Sierra Leone will result in being unable to obtain a rental car. Make sure all documents are valid before arriving in Sierra Leone.

Hire car driving tips

  • Shop around online and choose a rental car that will suit the requirements for the trip. A tourist who is mostly exploring within the city may benefit better from a smaller city car than a tourist who wishes to explore the rural areas and may need a larger car for the rougher terrain.
  • A tourist must ensure all vehicle components are in good working order, such as lights, tires, and seatbelts. The customer should also note any previous car damage and report it to the agency immediately.
  • Since it is legally required that all cars are insured here, check with the rental company that insurance is supplied with the vehicle. If not, it is the driver’s responsibility to get the car adequately insured before driving.

Driving And Safety In Sierra Leone

Driving in Sierra Leone is not the most accessible place to go, with many roads outside the central city unmarked, unpaved, and with limited lighting and signage. Nevertheless, brushing up on the road rules is wise before getting behind the wheel in a foreign country.

Some things to keep in mind are:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited
  • speed limits
  • You must carry your license, IDP, passport, and insurance information with you at all times
  • Sharp bends and slops are famous on Sierra Leone roads; driving below the speed limit will allow a driver enough time to react and break if necessary.
  • The speed limit on most roads is50km/h, and highways or freeways increase the speed limit to 130 km/h

Top 3 Places to Visit in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is located in West Africa, and after facing many troubles over the last century with the civil war, the country has now rebuilt and is open for tourists to visit. Given its past, Sierra Leone is a country with a vastly rich history, sandy beaches, and old colonial fortresses on cliffs. It used to be a British colony but gained its independence which sparked tremendous civil unrest leading to the war. Thankfully, Sierra Leone is now an independent country and is at peace.

Sierra Leone has a hot and humid tropical climate and a hot and wet rainy season. The rainy season typically lasts from May to November, but day times temperatures still average around 78.8F. The primary language spoken here is Krio, but English is also widely spoken. Sierra Leone is a multilingual country with 18 major languages.


Its central city is located in the west of Sierra Leone, Freetown. Cascading down rolling green hills with a horseshoe bay to the right, Freetown is a breathtaking sight. Thanks to its busy port, this city is home to some of the busiest streets in Sierra Leone, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and shopping!

Freetown is also home to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, where you can drive through to see giant Chimpanzees swinging above your car.

Tiwai island

On the coast of south Sierra Leone, Tiwai island lies engulfed by the winding Moa River. Tiwai Island is home to one of the last remaining virgin rainforests in Sierra Leone and, as a result, is one of the most famous conservation spots in the country.

An abundance of wildlife is present on the island, with Diana monkey, pygmy hippos, tool-using chimpanzees, and pangolins making the reserve their home.

Tokeh beach

Probably Sierra Leone’s most accomplished seaside resort, bamboo parasols, glistening yellow sands, and a sparkling clear ocean make up this fantastic beach. Just East of Freetown, this beach is home to some luxurious resorts and hotels and is a huge hotspot with tourists looking to relax and sunbathe.


What do I do if I lose my IDP in Sierra Leon?

Suppose you lose your IDP while in Sierra Leone; you will not be permitted to drive until it is replaced. You must contact us, and we will issue you a new one.

Can I drive during the rainy season in Sierra Leon?

Driving in the rainy season after heavy downpours can be difficult, unpaved roads can become treacherous, and landslides are always a risk. Try staying within the main cities and roads until heavy downpours have subsided, and if necessary, always bring an emergency kit.

Are police checkpoints joint in Sierra Leon?

Police checkpoints are joint throughout Sierra Leone, especially beside the borders. If being stopped by police, it is vital to remain calm and respectful. Never drive without having all your required documents, such as a valid driver’s license, an IDP, a valid form of ids such as a passport, visa, rental car documents, and proof of insurance.

Leave a Comment