What Is An International Driver’s License/ Permit?
An International Driver’s License and an International Driving Permit are translated versions of your domestic driver’s license. They can be used to drive vehicles in a foreign country while you are travelling.
What is the difference between an international driver’s license and a permit?
An International Driving Permit commonly referred to as an IDP, is a legally accepted translated driver’s license in 150 countries. Obtaining an IDP in many countries is legally mandatory if you wish to drive there.
Is it a small white book with white pages, and is slightly larger than a passport. It will be translated into 12 different languages, including English, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It will contain your name, picture and driver information, also making it a great form of International Identification. The validity period of an IDP varies depending on the country you are visiting, but in general, most are valid for 1 or 3 years.
In comparison, an International Driver’s License is not a legally accepted or required document in most foreign countries. Sometimes they are accepted as a valid license, but oftentimes an IDP is required instead. If you already hold an International Driver’s License, it can still be beneficial to bring it with you as it can also act as a form of Identification.
Both an IDP and an International Driver’s License can be obtained online, by applying through a website. In general, an International Driver’s License is an easier and faster process than applying for an IDP, so it is best to check the information for the foreign country you are travelling to before taking off, to see which license is needed.
How do International Driving Permits / International Driver’s License work in the Bahamas?
Suppose you hold a valid US Driver’s License or U.K license and are staying in the Bahamas for 3 months or less. In that case, you are permitted to drive with your domestic driver’s license or International Driver’s License from the U.S or U.K, as long as it is valid for at least a year. If you have a U.S or U.K license and intend on staying longer than 3 months, you will need to get a Bahamian Driver’s License instead. It is also important to note that if you intend on renting a vehicle during your trip, you may be required to have an IDP.
Any international drivers not holding a valid driver’s license from either of these countries must obtain an International Driving Permit to be legally allowed drive vehicles in the Bahamas. They will also be expected to have a valid IDP to rent a car during the trip.
Any person can drive with either their valid US driver’s license, UK license, or an IDP for up to 3 months. If extending your stay after that or moving to the Bahamas on a more permanent basis, a Bahamian Driver’s License is required.
How do I get an International Driving Permit for the Bahamas?
Applying for an IDP is an easy and convenient process! You can obtain an IDP online through our website – “insert website link” and have it delivered to your door. While doing the application process you will need to fill in an application form, and also send in the following documents:
Completed application form
Domestic driver’s license
Id, such as a passport
Valid debit/credit card
How much does an IDP cost?
Getting your IDP is an affordable process and can be obtained online for $49 per year.
How long does it take to get an IDP?
The waiting period for your IDP to arrive largely depends on where you are ordering from and delivering to, due to local delivery times vary. Once you have sent in all the correct information and payment has been processed, your digital IDP should be in your email within 2 hours. With standard delivery, you can expect to see your physical IDP arrive at your chosen address within 2 to 30 days.
If you are in a hurry, you can choose an express service, which will have your digital IDP in your email within 20 minutes. Choosing express shipping should have your IDP delivered within 2 to 14 days.
United Nations agreement on road traffic
The United Nations Road Traffic agreement is an agreement that was formed between UN countries to implement the use of International Driving Permits around the world. There have been 3 automotive conventions to allow foreign countries to sign up. The first was held in 1926 in Geneva, followed by one in 1949 in Paris, and the last was held in 1968 in Vienna.
This agreement ensures that IDPs being issued are considered valid by the UN, and therefore are legally accepted in most countries. This agreement also authorizes other automotive cooperation to issue IDPs on a government’s behalf.
Benefits Of Carrying An IDP In The Bahamas
It is legally required for most international drivers to hold an IDP if they wish to drive vehicles while visiting the Bahamas. The only exception to this rule is people from the US or UK who hold a valid license from these countries or an International Driver’s License issued in the US or UK.
Functions as an international form of id
A great benefit of holding an IDP is its ability to work as an International form of Identification, especially when travelling in countries with a language barrier. If you travelling from a country that doesn’t speak the language spoken in the Bahamas, having an IDP will translate your information, making it easier when dealing with local police.
Car rental companies
Almost all car rental companies will require a driver to carry an IDP to rent a car. You will also be required to provide other documents to rent a car while visiting the Bahamas.
Driving Requirements For Noncitizens
Short-term visitors vs long-term stay
Any person/s staying less than 3 months on a short-term visit is allowed to drive with their US/UK or IDP license. Anyone intending on staying longer than that or moving to the Bahamas permanently will need to obtain a valid driver’s license in the Bahamas.
When Do I Need To Get A Driver’s License in The Bahamas
Once a tourist has been in the Bahamas for longer than 3 months, you will be required to get a Bahamian driver’s license, if you want to continue driving. Any person holding a valid license can request a transfer of licence from the Road Traffic Department. You can do this by completing the following steps:
Submit the following documents to the Road Traffic Department examination department- Your driver’s license to be transferred, passport, national insurance card, and a permit to reside.
Once all information is verified the applicant will need to be interviewed by the Chief Driver Examiner.
The applicant will then be issued a bill for payment.
After everything is completed you will then be issued your Bahamian Driver’s License, usually issued instantly.
Renewing your IDP or Driving license in The Bahamas
An IDP is usually valid for 1 or 3 years, but the Bahamas only allow drivers to use an IDP for 3 months. You cannot renew your IDP to drive in the Bahamas once this period is up.
If you are intending on leaving the Bahamas and need to renew your IDP to drive in another country, you can do so online from your original IDP insurer.
Vehicle Rental In The Bahamas
Jitneys and buses are the only forms of public transport available in the Bahamas. These forms of public transport can be chaotic for tourists and are often very unreliable. That’s why vehicle rental is an excellent choice for tourists wanting to explore everything the Bahamas has to offer.
Like most countries, vehicle rental is a convenient and affordable option for international drivers who hold an IDP. There are plenty of car rental agencies available around the cities and airports, and tourists find it easy to get a vehicle to rent during their stay.
Renting vehicles in the Bahamas
Some well-known car rental agencies are based in The Bahamas, with collection points in the city and at Nassau Airport, such as Avis, Hetz and Budget.
The minimum driving age in the Bahamas is 17, but most car rental agencies will not rent a car to any person under the age of 20. Renting a car as a young and inexperienced driver can be more difficult and expensive, with a lot of companies charging a young driver’s fee.
It is highly recommended to shop around online at the car rental agencies that are available in the Bahamas to get a good price for the car you are looking for. Make sure to check out the agency’s policies on rental cars, and always try to reserve your chosen vehicle online where possible.
Vehicle rental costs
Rental costs on a vehicle will vary in every country due to the type of vehicle you require, the size of the vehicle, the age of the driver (young driver’s fee), the insurance that is legally required and any add-ons you request in the car, such as GPS, wifi or car seats.
A young driver’s fee can be quite expensive, so it is a good idea to shop around with different agencies, with smaller local agencies possibly being cheaper than some of the larger, well-known agencies. If there is an older driver present for the trip, it may be best to get them to be the main driver of the vehicle instead, which will reduce the cost.
In general, car rental is considered a little more expensive than in other countries in the Bahamas. Depending on the factors listed above, car rental can range from around $60 to $150 per day.
Car insurance is strictly implemented in the Bahamas, with every motor vehicle needing to be adequately insured before you can start driving. A minimum allowance of Third-party, Fire and Theft is allowed in the Bahamas. Failure to provide adequate insurance on a car in the Bahamas can result in large fines and road bans from local authorities.
Car rental agencies may require you to purchase additional insurance on a rental car, such as Personal Accident Insurance and Loss or Damage to Motor Vehicle Insurance, to make sure both you and the vehicle are completely insured in the case of an accident while driving abroad.
Since it is up to the driver to make sure a car is insured, you will need to check with the rental company before driving the car, to make sure it is covered. Most rental companies offer insurance as part of the price, but some do not. If it is not offered in the price of the car, the car holder must get insurance from a car insurance company, for the duration of the rental.
All Vehicle rental companies around the world will request documents before allowing you to rent a car. The following documents will be requested:
A driver’s license
An International Driving Permit
Identification, such as a passport
A debit or credit card for payment.
This is why it is recommended to obtain an IDP even if it is not legally necessary in the Bahamas. Some rental companies may accept just your US or UK driving license, but this is not guaranteed. It is best to have your IDP ready, in case it is requested.
Hire car driving tips
It is always recommended to shop around online and reserve the car online if possible, before arriving in the Bahamas. This will ensure you get the exact type of car you need for a good price and help you avoid paying very high costs on arrival.
When accepting the vehicle, always inspect both the interior and exterior of the car for any damage. If there is any damage done, take note and inform the rental company before accepting the car. This will stop you from having to take liability for any damages that were already done to the vehicle before it was in your possession, and help you avoid paying any damage fees.
Before driving, it is best to make sure all components of the vehicle are in good working order. Make sure to check the tires, oil, and lights, and inform the agency of any problems. This will avoid any grievances while driving with local authorities if lights are not properly working!
Driving And Safety In Bahamas.
Drivers are encouraged to practise defensive driving in the Bahamas. This means being aware of any potential hazards at all times, as Bahamian drivers who are used to the roads may drive faster and more dangerous than someone who is new to the area.
The majority of the land in the Bahamas is flat, making driving much easier even on unpaved roads. The road in cities are usually paved and well maintained, but outside of the cities, they may be unpaved dirt roads, with limited signage.
Weather is not a huge concern for driving safety in the Bahamas, with the majority of the weather being warm and sunny. That said, the Bahamas can get heavy rain falls which will make driving hazardous, especially outside of the cities. Always exercise caution if driving after heavy rainfalls.
The Bahamas is considered mostly safe to visit, but some countries do advise to head extra caution when travelling in the Bahamas. This is mostly due to armed robberies of tourists, and gang violence that can occur in some areas in the Capital. Be vigilant while travelling, and avoid carrying large amounts of money or jewellery on you.
Road rules in the Bahamas
It is mandatory for all road users to obey the local traffic laws and road rules while on their trip. Failure to do so can result in large fines from local police, or possible road bans if breaking.
Try to familiarize yourself with road laws and traffic rules before driving in the Bahamas. This will help your vacation run smoothly, and avoid any unnecessary accidents happening.
It is also important that all drivers carry the relevant documents when driving at all times. You will need to have your driver’s license, your International Driving Permit, ID such as a passport, your visa documents, car rental documents and proof of insurance.
Drinking and driving
Drinking and driving is prohibited in the Bahamas. A blood alcohol level of 80 milligrams per 100mls of blood is permitted, but tourists are recommended to get a taxi if they have consumed alcohol. Being unfamiliar with the roads and having any level of alcohol in your system can increase your risk of being in or causing an accident.
Local authorities can conduct roadside alcohol testing by breathalyzer, and if a driver is caught driving over the legal alcohol limit you can expect to face large fines or driving bans, and not be allowed to complete their trip.
Driving side and overtaking
Driving in the Bahamas is done on the left side, so it is a good idea to do some practice before driving in the busy cities if you are unused to driving on the left.
Overtaking is allowed when it is safe to do so. It’s important to be aware of the local overtaking rules, and remember that overtaking is done on the right side in the Bahamas.
Speed limits will vary depending on where you are driving. In general, in cities and urban areas, a maximum speed limit of 25 mph is allowed. When driving in rural areas, a maximum speed limit of 30-45 mph applies.
Top 2 Places to Visit in The Bahamas
The Bahamas is a well-known and famous beach holiday for many tourists. Sandy white beaches, emerald green waters and lush green scenery is in abundance in the Bahamas. The Bahamas consists of around 700 Islands, so it can be difficult to know where to begin. Luckily, these islands are all close, and boats run regularly to and from them.
The Bahamas has a subtropical climate, with high temperatures year-round and heavy rainfalls. The Bahamas has a hurricane season, so November and April are some of the more popular months to visit if you want to avoid this.
Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and is located on New Providence Island where about 70% of the population lives. Made popular by its sandy beaches and snorkelling trips to see coral reefs and turtles, a trip to the Bahamas wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Nassau.
Cable beach is one of the most popular beaches in Nassau. It has more of a festive feel to it, with plenty of luxury resorts, casinos and nightlife nearby.
The Lucayan National Park
One of the country’s most visited national parks, Lucayan National Park is full of underwater caves, natural ecosystems and historically significant sites.
A trip to Lucayan National Park isn’t complete without a tour of the different ecosystems from ridge to ridge, learning about the Lucayan Indians who originally settled there and visiting Gold Rock Beach.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
What should I do if I lose my IDP in The Bahamas?
If you lose your IDP while you are in the Bahamas you will need to apply for a replacement. Contact your IDP issuer and a replacement will be sent to your address in the Bahamas.
Can I drive at night in the Bahamas?
Driving inside the main cities at night shouldn’t cause any issues except during heavy downpours. It is not recommended to drive in the rural areas, especially the smaller less populated islands at night due to unmarked roads making driving hazardous.