What is an International Driving Permit or License?
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving 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 Myanmar?
Since Myanmar has adopted the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968 guidelines, the IDP is valid for one year from the date of issue. It can be used not only as a driving license but also as an identity card nationwide. You can keep your original documents, including your driver’s permit and passport, safe while using IDP whenever asked to present them. Unless you are from an ASEAN country (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam), you must carry IDP if you intend to drive your vehicle or rent a vehicle in the country. An IDP can also be used for renting a place to stay.
How do you apply for an IDP in Myanmar?
You can apply for an IDP through our website. We would need your current driver’s license details, an updated passport-sized photo, and a copy of your driver’s license to verify your identity.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
The United Nations has authenticated IDP as a valid form of identification as they comply with the United Nations road traffic conventions. There have been three international motor traffic conventions – 1926 in Paris, 1949 in Geneva, and 1968 in Vienna.
Most countries worldwide have accepted these conventions and agreed to take the IDP as a valid document. Each country has its own authorized agency (state-owned), which allocates the IDP to its citizens.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Myanmar
Functionality as an ID
An IDP can be seen as a convenient translation document for transport. It can also be used for identity verification purposes. The government agency of Myanmar requires you to carry your driver’s license from your home country along with your passport. Still, you can carry your IDP and show the other documents only when competent authorities ask. This way, you can ensure the safety of your driver’s license and passport in a foreign country. Since an IDP has translations in various languages, it can serve as a national ID in the country for you, as your original national ID may not be readable due to the language barrier.
Quicker traffic authority stops
In Myanmar, tourists from the ASEAN counties may use their original driving licenses; however, the traffic inspectors may find it difficult to access and understand the information on your documents due to the difference in language. If you have an IDP, they can quickly read the information in the language they know and note it down. This system can work best during any situation of emergency.
Renting a car
An IDP is a recognized document directed by the United Nations, and car renting companies worldwide must accept it. If you don’t have an IDP and your required documents are in a foreign language, the car renting companies may deny you their service. With an IDP, they will access the necessary information in a language of their choice. Therefore, they can give you the car for rent without needing any other documents.
Laws requiring an IDP
The IDP has your information and updated photo. Taking an IDP is always safest rather than relying on your driver’s license or passport. Myanmar will not accept your original driver’s license unless you are from an ASEAN country (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and want you to support it with your passport and IDP anyway. If you plan on using self-driving cars, you need a valid local driver’s license and an International Driving Permit. It would be best if you had the IDP in Myanmar for renting or driving in the country. It will act as validation for checkpoints in the country.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Myanmar
ASEAN vs. non-ASEAN visitors
Suppose you are from ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). In that case, you can use your local driver’s license till the expiry date with no worries. But otherwise, you will have to get an IDP right away. Some countries have a window period where you can use your local driving license without an IDP. However, there is no such provision in Myanmar. So to avoid any unpleasant experience, get the IDP.
How long can you drive with a foreign license?
The driver’s permit from your country (unless you are from an ASEAN country) will not work in Myanmar. You must be from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam for your license to work. If you are from any other country, you must carry an IDP.
When should I get a Driver’s License in Myanmar?
You might want to consider getting a Myanmar driving license if you plan to move to Myanmar for the long term. It will be beneficial to avoid any tussle with the bureaucracy and issues with the road transport authorities at the checkpoints.
How to get a driver’s license in Myanmar?
To get a Myanmar driver’s license, you can convert your foreign driving license to a Myanmar driving license or take the tests from scratch.
To convert your license, you will need the original and a copy of your license, passport, three passport-sized photos, and a fee of around 10 USD.
If, for whatever reason, you must take the tests from scratch, the minimum driving age to get a learner’s permit is 16. During this time, a driving instructor should accompany you while driving. Then, you must have been trained and graduated from an accredited driving school to obtain a permanent driving license.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Myanmar
Renewing your International Driving Permit
The International Driving Permit is valid for one year in Myanmar as per the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968. There is no scope for the renewal of this type of permit. Once it expires, you must renew it through our website. Please note that IDP serves as a valid form of identification during this year. After the expiry date, it is not legally admissible. You can convert the driving permit from our website or apply for a local driver’s license in Myanmar.
Renewing your Original Driver’s License
Before 90 days of the expiry date, you can renew your driver’s permit at the Myanmar road transportation administration department. The application process includes a form submission, two photos with a blue background, your original driving license, and a copy of an identification card. If you renew your Myanmar driving license, you need two additional documents – a passport and a permit to stay. You have to renew your driver’s permit every five years.
Car Rental in Myanmar
Requirements for car rental
The minimum age to rent a car in Myanmar is 18 years, and there are no additional charges if you are under 25. You must have a driver’s permit issued by your country for at least a year or a valid International Driving Permit. It will be considered if you have a license from any ASEAN country, but it should be at least a year old. Before you hit the road, you must also know the various driving rules and regulations. It would be best to consult any local driving institute for the appropriate handbook. Further, you must understand that you must drive within Myanmar Pincode with a valid visa.
Deposit and costs for car rental
A rental car in Myanmar in Myanmar will cost you around $110 per day. It is seen that visitors generally prefer the economy car (like VW Polo). But you can decide the type of car depending on the location you are picking to visit. Off-the-beaten-track destinations like the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda or Mount Popa should be seen by a truck or an SUV equipped with four-wheel drive. The gas prices here are often the same as in the US. A gallon of fuel will cost you an average of 2.50 USD in the States; it will run you an average of about 3,700 MMR (2.40 USD) in Myanmar.
Although people usually don’t purchase insurance for rental cars while driving in a foreign country, it is highly recommended. Car insurance will protect you against the physical damage that may occur due to traffic collisions and any liabilities that could arise from vehicle accidents. Exploring a country by road, under unknown road conditions, can be both adventurous and risky. The risk may increase if you are a first-time visitor. It is best to rent a car which provides insurance packages too. Usually, car leasing companies include this as an extra service for some additional fees. Some packages may only include collision damage; some may also include liability coverage against potential lawsuits. Medical coverage and personal belonging loss may also be covered in some packages. The packages range from $30USD to $45USD.
Driving and Safety in Myanmar
Driving regulations and code
For exact details on the driving regulations and code, it is advised that you consult local driving tutors for the up-to-date handbook in your language of comfort so that you get all the rules known. The information on official Myanmar websites is in Burmese only. These measures must be undertaken to drive safely and avoid mishaps that may ruin your time in the country or pay hefty fines.
Speed limits to follow
Myanmar police will closely check your speed limit violations, and you may also be imprisoned if you violate them too many times. The limit within the urban area is 48 km/h (30 mph). The limit may be relaxed on expressways up to 60 km/h (37 mph) to 80 km/h (50mph). While traveling between the cities, the speed limit may not be strictly imposed.
Drinking and driving
Drinking and driving are illegal in Myanmar. The law states that you should not have more than 0.07% blood alcohol content or 70 micrograms per 100 ml of blood. There is a zero-tolerance policy for young drivers. The police will arrest you if you are found flouting this level, even if you are within the speed limit. You will be liable to pay a fine of around $2000 – $10,000 and a year in jail. The country has focused on road safety implementation very seriously since it was reported to be second-worst in World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia region in terms of death in 2015. Hence, it would be best to take this policy seriously and not hamper your stay and experience.
Myanmar’s road conditions significantly differ from those in Europe or the USA. The roads are in better shape when connecting the main cities. There are around nine major highways connecting cities. Aside from the highway system, one major expressway runs from Mandalay to Yangon via the country’s administrative capital city: Naypyitaw. The roads in the rural areas are to be cautiously driven upon, primarily unpaved, and bad weather conditions may worsen the situation.
Driving tips in Myanmar
Before driving by yourself in the country, check the government’s policies and political situation as there may be areas which foreigners can’t visit
The drivers drive on the right-hand side of the road, but many imported vehicles are left-handed (it is the only country in the world to drive right in right-hand cars)
Some rental car companies insist on getting a Myanmar driving permit despite having an IDP, so be sure to check with the company first before booking
The country has high accident rates and poor unpaved roads – keep these elements in mind and talk to locals about better driving practices
There are no laws for traveling with child passengers; however, given the road conditions and driving habits in Myanmar, it is recommended to use a car seat for your child
Top 3 destinations to visit in Myanmar
Mandalay is the second-largest city at the foot of Mandalay hill. It was the royal capital in the olden times. Currently, it hosts busy markets, monasteries, Indian temples, mosques, and hillside pagodas. You can romp through these places or spend a few quiet hours at the Royal Palace of Mandalay, where you will have 40 different buildings to explore. You can also trek the Yankin hill or see the world’s giant book at Kuthodaw Pagoda. Watching a show at the Mandalay Marionettes or visiting Shwe In Bin Kyaung monastery, Mahamuni Paya, and Ta Moke Shwe Gu Gyi is also a must.
Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is the largest city in Myanmar. Here, you will get a range of places to visit, from Buddhist monuments to scenic lakes and parks. The town hosts colonial buildings, museums, art galleries, and markets, keeping you busy for a few days. Yangon has multiple religious sites for you to visit, like the Shwedagon pagoda and Buddha hair at Botataung Pagoda. You may also visit the Bogyoke Aung San market with colonial structures and inner cobblestone streets. You will find attractive antique Burmese handicraft and jewelry shops, art galleries, and clothing stores. It also has the best Burmese street food, which you must try before leaving the city.
Bagan is considered to be the number one destination in Myanmar. It is home to over 2000 beautiful stupas spread across the endless countryside. There are hot air balloon rides available at the place during sunrise so that you can appreciate the stupas from a height where you can see them all. Apart from the pagoda, you can visit the Mani Sithu local market by bike or an e-bike and shop for high quality-lacquer products. The place also has to offer multiple cuisines, including Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Tibetian, apart from Burmese. Please note that this place has not been explored by tourists much. So go there fast and get to see the sanctity of this place at its best.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I required to have an IDP in Myanmar?
We highly recommend having an IDP when traveling to Myanmar, as many countries require you to have a valid driving license and an IDP.
Can you drive with a foreign license in Myanmar?
Unless you are from an ASEAN county (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam), you are not allowed to drive in Myanmar with your foreign driving license.
Is there any online portal to apply for IDP in Myanmar?
You can apply for an IDP through our website.
How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in Myanmar?
Since Myanmar has contracted to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 1968, your IDP will be valid for one year.
Is there any portal to check traffic status in Myanmar?
You can visit the https://www.viamichelin.com/web/Traffic/Traffic_info-Yangon-_-Rangoon-Myanmar page to get live traffic updates to plan your journeys.
On which side do you drive in Myanmar?
Motorists drive on the right side of the road in Myanmar. Most vehicles are right-hand drive, but left-hand vehicles are permitted.
Do you need a foreign license printed in English to drive in Myanmar?
You cannot drive without an IDP if you have a foreign license unless you are from an ASEAN country (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam). An IDP has a translation of your license in over ten different languages.