International Driving Permit Bahrain


What is an International Driving Permit or License?

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.

On the other hand, 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 Bahrain?

IDPs work the same in Bahrain as in any other country. As long as you have applied and been approved to get the document, the IDP will be valid for renting a car and driving while in Bahrain. This document will guarantee your safety while you are in a foreign country.

How to get an IDP?

Getting an IDP won’t take you too much time. You can apply through our website and complete the valid form. Once the system has approved your driver information, you will receive your International driving permit. Usually, the digital license will be sent to you in about two hours, while the physical will be sent in the mail, so it is recommended to do this with a considerable amount of time before your trip.

United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic

Road safety is a priority issue for the United Nations to reduce the number of deaths and injuries yearly caused by road accidents. That is why the UN decided to create a collaboration among the countries that form it. The current agreements were approved back in 1968 in the International Traffic Convention that took place in Vienna.

This agreement is an international law that all the members have consented to implement in their nations. These rules also ensure international relations between countries. In addition, some current transport agreements facilitate cross-border transport and impose diverse vehicle regulations. Each member country has several entities involved with the rules to ensure they are respected.

Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Bahrain

Avoid miscommunication

International Driving Permits are extremely useful in a foreign country that uses a different alphabet than yours. As the IDP documents your personal information but is translated, it would make it easier for you and the people checking your identification. Getting an IDP won’t take you too much time. You can apply through our website and complete the valid form. Once the system has approved your driver information, you will receive your International driving permit.

Guarantee your safety

If you get lost or get into an accident, your IDP will guarantee your safety in a foreign country. Also, it will save time when you are dealing with authorities or the police if you are in an emergency.

Car rental advantages

If you don’t have an international driving license, it is more likely that you won’t be able to rent a car while you are in Bahrain. The companies must validate your identity and ensure that you are qualified to drive, which they can’t verify without an IDP. Though you can use public transportation, it is easier for tourists to have autonomy regarding their vehicles.

Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Bahrain

While in Bahrain, you can drive for up to twelve months as long as your local driver’s license is valid and you have an International Driver’s Permit. But, of course, if your trip is longer than a year, or you are planning to settle in this country, you may need to apply for a Bahraini driving license.

When should I get a Bahrain Driver’s License?

If you stay in Bahrain for less than a year, you will only be good with an IDP. This document is valid for 12 months. After this period, you should apply for a Bahrain driver’s license considering if you plan to stay longer.

How to get a Bahrain Driver’s license

The process to get a Bahraini driver’s license may vary on your situation:

Getting a driver’s license as a non-citizen

After your IDP expires, you will need to submit a request to get a local driver’s license. You must go to the driving department and present the required documents, such as your passport photo and personal data.

Once your application is validated, you can pay the respective fee, and lastly, you will have to pass a theory test after taking a capacitation course and be approved by an eye doctor.

Getting a driver’s license as a citizen of the GCC countries.

Suppose you are naturally from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, or UAE. In that case, you can try to trade your valid local driving license by going to the Traffic Services and ensuring that the Directorate recognizes your country. This method will save you some time and avoid the tests, but you still need to present documentation like your passport, proof of residency, and more.

Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Bahrain

Renewing your International Driving Permit

You can’t renew your IDP while you are in Bahrain. It will expire after a year, so if you stay longer, you must apply for a Bahraini driver’s license. But, if you leave soon, you won’t need it.

Renewing your International Driving License

Renewing your IDL is easy. You just need to reapply through the original issuer. Let them know that you are asking for renewal, and they contact you to send you a new international driving license.

Renewing your Bahraini driver’s license

To renew your Bahraini driver’s license, you just need to go to a post office and send an application along with your expired license. In the envelope, you must include two passport photos, an address, and the required fee. After some time, you will receive a new license at the address that you provided.

Car Rental in Bahrain

Renting a car while you are in Bahrain is very popular among tourists. This option is highly more used than public transportation or walking because of the country’s significantly developed highways. However, there are some things to consider before renting a car, such as:

What documents do I need to rent a car in Bahrain?

Of course, if you don’t have a Bahraini driver’s license, you can rent a car if you have your International Driving Permit. You will also have to present any documentation that validates your identity, such as your passport or local identification document.

The companies must verify the driver’s information before handing over the vehicle. The first thing they need to corroborate is that the driver is older than 21 and their driver’s license is at least one year old, though some companies settled with 18 as the minimum age. Once this process is done, you can use any payment method they offer.

What type of car can I rent in Bahrain?

The type of vehicle you can get will depend on your budget and your age. For example, people under 25 can’t rent luxurious or premium cars, but they can use regular vehicles, like SUVs. People usually recommend getting a car that you would buy as your car.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Bahrain?

The price for a rented car in Bahrain can vary depending on a series of factors, like the local tax, premium surcharges from the rental company, and the kind of insurance and car you are getting.

It is considerably more expensive than in other countries, but so many companies result in a competition of offers. This competition also results in the option to explore different possibilities regarding the time you are renting, the extra benefits they offer, and more, so tourists tend to take their time looking for an offer that fits their budget and necessities.

Insurances for rented cars in Bahrain

Getting insurance for your rented car is an obligation that must be analyzed before purchasing. Most companies include the policy when they offer the price of the whole vehicle; however, it can be subject to changes depending on the driver’s necessities.

The policies can be valid for short or long terms and will only be useful for the person who issued the document. There are a lot of approaches regarding the policies; some only include damage from an accident, while others also offer compensation in case of robbery.

When staying longer, it is preferable to get long-term insurance; this will save you time and paperwork because you won’t have to renew the policy constantly.

Driving and Safety in Bahrain

If you are planning a trip to Bahrain, you should have some knowledge about the driving laws that are a must whenever you drive in this nation. The rules you need to be most aware of are:

Don’t drink and drive

Though this is a universal rule regarding driving, there is no tolerance for alcohol or drugs while driving in Bahrain. The limit amount of alcohol in the blood is 0%, meaning it is prohibited. This violation results in a fine of at least BD500 or a month in jail; this will vary according to the gravity of the situation.

Speed limit

You have to check the speed limit according to your driving zone. While the average limit is 60 km/h in urban areas, it can vary to 80 km/h on rural roads and 120 km/h in most driveways. This violation can start with a fine of BD500 or six months in jail. Usually, these kinds of breaches are taken very seriously, and the fine or sentence will depend highly on the situation’s context.

Overtaking law

In Bahrain, overtaking is okay as long as you make sure you have enough room to maneuver the situation. For overtaking, you have to check that you aren’t getting in the way of other cars, the road is wide enough for the vehicle, and you aren’t close to a crosswalk. After you overtake, you should slow down your speed and stay in your lame.

Conversely, if a car is trying to overtake you, try to stay in your lane and avoid overtaking them to dodge any accidents.

Use your directionals

This is a fundamental rule to have in mind when you are driving in Bahrain. There are many universal signals used to communicate among drivers, like if the car behind you is flashing the front lights, they are asking you to overtake you. This rule is used explicitly if you are going to slow in the left lane, considered the fast lane.

Overall, driving safely doesn’t differ from in other countries. Lastly, here is a list of common traffic laws you need to remember:

  • You must be at least 18 years to drive a vehicle.

  • Your vehicle must be registered and insured, and you must carry all your documentation.

  • You must go on the right-hand road in Bahrain, and the traffic lights display four colors.

  • If you talk on your phone while driving, you will be fined. This rule also applies to smoking and eating too.

  • All children should go in the back seat.

  • All of the passengers must be using their seat belts.

  • You can not use your cell phone while driving, but you can use a hands-free system. 

  • Intersections with yellow markings can not be crossed.

  • It is allowed to park only in places marked as so.

  • Whenever you are speeding, use the left lane; otherwise, stay in the right lane.

  • It would be best to stop behind the white stripe on the ground at red lights.

The emergency and accident number is 999, while if you need to contact the police, you need to call 199 instead.

As long as you respect these and all the traffic laws, you will be free of fines and without encounters with the local police while you drive in Bahrain. Of course, they will avoid any life-threatening road accidents.

Top 3 Destinations to Visit in Bahrain

Bahrain stands out for being a tourist attraction in the Middle East. Millions of thousands of people visit this country yearly to learn more about its culture and the unique sceneries across the nation. Some of the places you can’t miss in your future trip to Bahrain are:

Manama City

This city is the main attraction of Bahrain. It stands out thanks to its incredible modern Islamic architecture represented by the landscape of skyscrapers. In Manama, you can enjoy the horizon of towers, especially the Bahrain World Trade Center and the set of twin towers that stand more than 240 meters tall. Of course, you can find a variety of markets and restaurants where you will be mesmerized by the traditional cuisine, and don’t forget to visit the National Museum and the Al Faith Mosque.

Amwaj Islands

You can’t visit Bahrain without visiting one of the beautiful exotic islands of this country. Amwaj Islands are known for being the best beaches in Bahrain and for the luxurious facilities on these artificial islands. While in the Amwaj Islands, you can go to the opulent malls and enjoy Middle Eastern traditional food in top-quality restaurants.

Al Jasra

If you prefer a traditional Middle East experience, Al Jasra will be the perfect destination. This village is located on the western coast of Bahrain, and it is known best for the variety of crafts the locals create daily to represent their culture. Here you can also visit the Al Jasra House, the former home of Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, with built-in stonework.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Am I required to have an IDP in Bahrain?

You don’t need an IDP every time you travel to a foreign country, but if you plan to drive while abroad, you must have a valid international driving license. Yet, it is recommended to get the IDP whenever you are in countries where a different language is spoken to avoid miscommunications regarding your identity.

On which side of the road do you drive in Bahrain?

People in Bahrain drive on the right side of the road. This regulation changed 52 years ago due to the difficulties the tourists from nearby countries had when it used to be on the left side of the road.

What should I do if my car broke while I’m in Bahrain?

Whenever there is a problem with your vehicle, you should try to get out of the road to avoid traffic and road accidents. You can try taking the car to the side of the road, at least 50 meters far, and use the reflecting triangle meant for emergencies. It would be best if you are near a Danger traffic sign to let other drivers know about your situation. Once you are safe, you can contact the respective entities to fix your issue.

How can I get an international driving permit in Bahrain?

You can get an International Driving Permit in Bahrain by going to our website and completing the application form. Once you have submitted the required documents, it shouldn’t take long to be approved. It is an easy process and valid as long as your driving license is suitable.

How long will my International Driver’s Permit last while I’m in Bahrain?

Your IDP will be valid for twelve months before Bahrain no longer recognizes it. This period can vary if you are traveling to another country.

What should I do if I need to drive in Bahrain during Ramadan?

As Bahrain is a Muslim-oriented country, Ramadan is part of their culture. During this sacred month, the practitioners must reflect on their actions and lives and devote themselves to their prayers, so the country gets pretty quiet. Most people won’t drive during Ramadan, but there is no prohibition; thus, the highways will be emptier than at regular times; still, you need to respect the speed limits and try not to make a lot of noise to respect the tradition.

Can Expats drive in Bahrain?

Yes, as long as they have a valid driver’s license issued by the country or with an IDP, they have the right to drive across Bahrain.

Can I drive in Bahrain with a US license?

Even though you can drive in Bahrain with a valid US license, experts still recommend issuing an IDP before your trip to Bahrain; this will avoid miscommunication due to the language barrier.

Can I drive in Bahrain with a Dubai license?

Yes, you can drive in Bahrain with a valid Dubai driver’s license. Still, authorities prefer that all tourists carry their IDP to preserve their safety while abroad since it holds your identification information.

Can I change lanes while driving in Bahrain?

Yes, you can, but you have to be precise when you do it. You need to avoid getting caught in the middle while changing lanes and ensure you aren’t too close to another car and that there aren’t bikers nearby.

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