International Drivers Permit Kenya
Kenya is a beautiful country that offers tourists so much to do and see: you’ll find substantial snow-capped mountains, equatorial forests, breathtaking coral reefs, stunning beaches, rich traditional cultures, savannahs occupied by wildlife, cool highlands, and searing deserts. In short, if you are adventurous, Kenya is the ideal country to visit for relaxation, fun, adventure, and discovery. Kenya will give you more than you expect, no matter the kind of travel experience you are looking for.
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 Kenya?
Kenya enforces strict laws on international drivers; you can’t drive on Kenyan roads if you don’t have a valid and legal driving license from your country of origin and an IDP. You can be allowed to drive for six months after entering the country if you are coming from a state that’s not listed in the European Economic Area (EEA) OR European Union (EU) states. If your valid driver’s license is in a foreign language, an IDP can be your license’s official translation.
The good thing about Kenya is that there’s a lot of information provided to tourists about traffic requirements and laws by the AA, and you don’t need to get a Kenyan driver’s license.
How do you apply for an IDP?
To apply for an International Driver’s Permit, you must have a valid driver’s license. You can apply directly from our website.
How long does it take to get an IDP in Kenya?
The International Driver’s Permit issuing process is painless and easy. You’ll be issued with a digital and printed IDP booklet. The digital version is sent to you within two hours, while the physical one will be mailed to you within 28 working days.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, also referred to as the Convention on Road Traffic, is a treaty that increases road safety and facilitates road traffic internationally. The treaty establishes standard traffic regulations between the contracting parties. The agreement was agreed upon on 7th – 8th November 1968 at the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Conference on Road Traffic. The Convention on Road Traffic Treaty was enforced on 21st May 1977; the conference also bore the Convention on Road Signs and Signals. The same convention was amended on 3rd September and 28th March 2006, respectively. There’s another European Agreement that supplements the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic held in 1968, and it was concluded on 1st May 1971 in Geneva.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Kenya
An IDP is a legal document that’s required for you to drive in Kenya; it’s a document that guarantees your safety while visiting foreign countries. As long as you have a valid and legal driving license from your country of origin and an International Driver’s Permit, you can drive on Kenyan roads comfortably. Kenya is one contracting country that has a subscription to various UN International Conventions concerning Road Traffic—failing to adhere to these requirements before traveling may result in civil or criminal offense charges, which can result in severe consequences in Kenya. Driving on Kenyan roads without an IDP can exclude your travel insurance if you claim damage or loss while driving in Kenya.
Some of the significant benefits of having an International Driver’s Permit in Kenya include:
An alternative to your ID
An IDP is an essential travel document that doubles as a valid identification document in foreign countries. You can use your International Driving Permit if you don’t want to carry your passport for security reasons. An International Driver’s Permit is helpful in instances where your national identification card is written in a language not used internationally.
Quicker traffic stops by the authority.
You may be allowed to use your foreign license in various countries after entering the country. The main reason behind this is to reduce inconveniences for tourists and boost tourism. However, it may be hard for traffic police to understand what your driving license is indicating during traffic stops. Having an International Driver’s Permit makes it easier for the police to get your details and allow you to proceed with your journey. An IDP is essential in case of an accident or emergency.
Car rental/ hire companies
Many companies in foreign countries are hesitant to rent or hire vehicles from foreigners who don’t have an International Driving Permit. An IDP is a valid document recognized by the UN, making most car rental companies recognize it. The advantage of having an IDP is that it saves your vacation time since you don’t waste time trying to hire cars from car rental companies.
Laws requiring an IDP
You can only use your driving license in Kenya for six months if you originate from a state not in the EEA or EU. You must own an IDP and have a valid driving license to be allowed to drive on Kenya roads if you are a foreigner.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Kenya
When you visit Kenya as an expatriate or a tourist, you can get around quickly using Ubers or other car rental vehicles from various companies. However, most tourists find that driving themselves is more convenient. The question that comes to most peoples’ minds is if foreigners are allowed to drive in Kenya.
It’s stipulated in Kenyan laws that foreigners must be issued a Kenyan driving license besides having their original driving licenses. You won’t be required to take any tests if you have your IDP or come from a Commonwealth country.
How long can you drive using a foreign license?
Foreigners with International Driving Permits can drive in Kenya for only three months. In the first three months, foreigners must start applying to convert their driving licenses into Kenyan ones.
When should I get a Kenyan driver’s license?
After staying in Kenya for three months, you’ll no longer be allowed to drive using a foreign driving license. If you plan to stay in the country for over three months, you must convert your license to a Kenyan driving license.
Renting or hiring a car in Kenya is a good option for tourists who want to travel across the country and view the beautiful landscapes, mountains, wildlife, water bodies, and beautiful beaches. There are several car hire companies you can hire a car from; they’ll advise you on the best car to hire depending on the places you intend to visit.
For instance, if you plan to visit the arid or mountainous regions, it’s advisable to hire a double cabin since they’re rigid enough. Ensure that you hire a car from a reputable company to avoid frustrations.
To hire a vehicle in Kenya, you must be over 23 years old and below 6o years old. Additionally, you must have used your license for over two years. You can use an IDP or your original license to hire a vehicle from Kenyan car rental companies.
Driving and Safety in Kenya
Kenya has beautiful tourist destinations with breathtaking scenery you can visit while in the country. Of course, driving around feels safer, but if you need the convenience of driving around on your own time, it’s advisable to hire a self-driving car. Additionally, it’s important to remember not to drive after dark to be safe!
Kenyan road usage is stipulated in the Kenyan Traffic Act; there’s the Highway Code under this Act. The Highway Code guides drivers in all matters regarding road regulations and safety in Kenya. To understand the dos and Don’ts on Kenyan roads, you can read the Highway Code to get the necessary information before driving in Kenya.
Most importantly, ensure that you have a valid Kenyan driving license and an IDP and that your car is in good condition.
Several online driving manuals provide detailed guidelines for experienced and learner drivers. The AA driving handbook is the most trusted manual for driving in Kenya. The manual contains advice and information required to drive safely on Kenyan roads and a detailed chart showing and explaining various road signs. You can get a copy of the AA driving handbook from any branch across the country.
Overtaking on Kenyan roads
It would be best if you always kept left when driving in Kenya; the only exception is when you are overtaking. Always overtake from the right-hand side. Remember to ensure that the road ahead is clear and safe before overtaking. Never overtake on sharp bends or corners.
Additionally, never get too close to the vehicle you want to overtake or if there’s oncoming traffic.
Safety and health guidelines are explained in the Kenyan Highway Code:
- Never start a journey if you feel exhausted
- Don’t drive if you have a poor vision
- Never drink and drive
- Never drive after taking or if you take medication that leaves you feeling drowsy.
What you aren’t allowed to do when driving in Kenya
- Driving in the middle of the road
- Creating traffic congestion or obstruction
- Reversing the car from a side road into the main road
- Begin driving when red and amber lights are both visible
- Exceeding speed limits outlined in the Highway Code
How to communicate with motorists on Kenyan roads if you’re driving
You can use hand gestures and signal lights or respond to traffic instructions issued by traffic police. You can communicate with other motorists and drivers using hand signals when you want to slow down, go straight, or move right or left.
Speed limits on Kenyan roads
You are required not to exceed a speed of 80m’h on the highway and 50km/h in urban areas. You can only drive but not exceed a speed of 40 km/h when driving off-road. Always watch out for any unmarked or hard-to-notice speed bumps. If caught driving beyond the outlined speed limits, you’ll be taken and asked to pay heavy fines or be jailed.
Which side should you drive on in Kenya?
Kenya is quite different from many countries since you can only keep left when driving; it’s an inheritance from the British. Additionally, the drivers aren’t insured, but their driving vehicles are covered by insurance!
License holders can drive any car as long as they are insured; you don’t require personal driving insurance.
Other important rules to observe on Kenyan roads include:
- Never use a mobile phone when driving
- Don’t be tempted to drink and drive; you’ll be arrested!
- Always put on a seat belt; other passengers in the car must do the same
- Ensure that you have all your documents, such as insurance and registration papers, and licenses
- Kenyans value their animals. Any animal, including cows, chickens, and goats, has the right of way. You may pay the animal’s owner if you accidentally kill or injure an animal on the Kenyan roads.
Driving during the night
It’s relatively safe to drive in Kenya at night. However, always avoid dark places to be safe. Organize a schedule that allows you to drive and rest at night.
Hidden speed bumps
Kenyan roads have several hidden speed bumps. Most of these speed bumps aren’t painted, and they don’t have any signs close by showing their existence. You can easily miss them, which may end up damaging your car or resulting in an accident.
Top 5 Places to Visit in Kenya
Kenya is an East African country that encompasses the Great Rift Valley, Lakelands, mountain highlands, and savannah. It’s home to various wildlife animals such as rhinos, elephants, and lions. The following are some of the most visited places in Kenya:
Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli National Reserve is among the most famous tourist parks in Kenya. The Amboseli Reserve is an excellent place to visit if you’re interested in viewing large elephant herds up close. Other wildlife in reserves includes the cheetah, lion, gazelle, waterbuck, eland, impala, giraffe, and over 600 bird species. Tourists can also explore five diff habitats in Amboseli; they range from Lake Amboseli’s dried-up bed, wetlands, woodlands, and savannah.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara National Reserve is among the most visited game reserves globally. The Maasai Mara reserve borders Tanzania and forms the wildlife corridor between Kenya and Tanzania.
Maasai Mara is named after the Maasai people who graze their livestock and live here. The reserve is famous for the Great Migration; thousands of Thomson’s gazelle, zebra, and wildebeest move from and to Serengeti between July and October.
Throngs of crocodiles and hippos lurk in the Mara River. Tourists can also enjoy predator sightings, thanks to the large leopard, cheetah, and lion populations.
Lamu Island is located in Mombasa. Lamu’s origin dates back to the 12th century, giving tourists the chance to experience the country’s oldest heritage. Tourists enjoy taking relaxing walks in the town’s beautiful streets. There are architectural features from India, Europe, and the Arab world, all with a Swahili technique. Lamu has hidden courtyards, rooftop patios, and coral buildings that take you back in time.
Some of the tourist attractions on Lamu Island include Lamu Fort, the Donkey Sanctuary, and the Lamu Museum.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo is a large park in Kenya, and it’s sliced in two: Tsavo East and Tsavo West. Tsavo Park encompasses a lava-rock plateau, volcanic hills, savannah, waterfalls, wildlife, and rivers.
Tsavo East is renowned for photo-worth sites of elephant herds bathing and rolling in the red dust. The Galana River flows through the park, offering excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
Other interesting sites in Tsavo East include Mudanda Rock, the Lugard Falls, and the Yatta Plateau.
Tsavo West is more varied and wetter; it’s home to some of the most breathtaking sceneries in Kenya. Tsavo West is also home to Mzima Springs and vast populations of crocodiles and hippos.
Lake Naivasha is located in the Great Rift Valley. It’s home to over 400 bird species, including kingfishers, bee-eaters, jacanas, and the African fish eagles.
The best way to view the game is by boat. The lake is home to hippos, and several eland, buffaloes, zebras, and giraffes graze around the lake’s edges.
Can I drive with a foreign driving license in Kenya?
It’s illegal to drive with a foreign driving license in Kenya, and you must convert your driving license to a Kenyan one to be allowed to drive on Kenyan roads.
Do I need an International Driving Permit in Kenya?
Yes. You must have an IDP plus a valid Kenyan driving license to drive in Kenya; foreign driving licenses aren’t allowed in Kenya.
What’s the legal driving age in Kenya?
To be issued a Kenyan driving license, you must be over 18 years.
Can I use my IDP to rent a car in Kenya?
Car rental companies in Kenya recognize an IDP as a legal and valid document; this means you can use your IDP to rent a car in Kenya.
Do I need my foreign license interpreted in English to drive in Kenya?
Yes. If your license is in a foreign language, you must have an IDP to drive in Kenya.
How long can I use my foreign driving license In Kenya?
You can only use a foreign driving license in Kenya for only three months. Remember that you’ll still need to have an IDP.