What is an International Driving Permit or License?
An International Driver’s license is not a separate license with any specific requirements or any driving test, rather it is your national driving license duly translated into twelve (12) most widely used international languages including but not limited to English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, German and French). Being translated into multiple languages, IDP allows its holder to drive vehicles all around the world without having to go through the trouble of acquiring separate driving licenses in each country.
If you are someone who travels a lot and likes to drive vehicles on your own, having an IDP is a must. The only thing you need while applying for an IDP is a valid driver’s license issued by the country of your residence and a nominal fee of $49.
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driver’s License (IDL)?
An International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is also referred to as an International Driver’s License (IDL) depending on the country you are visiting. Both terms are used interchangeably without any specific difference between the two. However, the more appropriate term is International Driver’s Permit, and the same is used in the country of Senegal.
You may be wondering why IDP is a more appropriate term, well the reason behind preferring the term IDP is that there is no separate license that is issued to allow drivers to drive vehicles outside their national boundaries. The IDP is just a translated version of your national driver’s license and this “permit” is issued for a limited period ranging from six months to a maximum of three years.
How does an IDP work in Senegal?
Just like in several other countries, International driving permits are duly accepted in the country of Senegal. In Senegal, all foreign travelers are required to have a valid IDP with them if they wish to drive vehicles within the boundaries of the country.
If you want to avoid going through the process of acquiring an international driving permit, you will have to get your national driving license approved by the Senegalese authorities. However, the procedure to get your national license approved by the Senegalese authorities is not as simple as getting an IDP. Hence, it is always recommended to get an IDP if you intend to drive vehicles during your visit to Senegal.
What Do You Need To Apply for an IDP in Senegal?
The procedure to apply for an International Driver’s Permit in Senegal is simple and easy. Here is the list of documents required at the time of applying for an IDP:-
- A certificate of authenticity of your local driving license – (For the certificate of authenticity, please contact regional divisions of land transport of driving schools)
- A certified photocopy of the permit to drive
- Two colored passport-size photographs of yourself
- Payment of processing fee of $49 for an IDP having a validity period of one year.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic:-
The country of Senegal is a party to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, 1968 since August 16, 1972. All the contracting countries of the convention are required to follow the traffic rules and regulations prescribed under the Convention including but not limited to:-
- Devising proper procedures for issuance of driving license.
- Ensuring the applicability of theoretical as well as practical tests before issuance of a driving license to any citizen.
- Recognizing and accepting International driving licenses issued by other countries.
- Ensuring proper road traffic rules within the boundaries of their countries.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Senegal:-
Having an IDP is mandatory for driving vehicles in foreign countries including Senegal. However, the benefits of having an IDP are listed below for your reference:-
An IDP is a legal document that allows foreigners to drive vehicles outside the boundaries of their own country or state that has issued their local driving license. A foreigner other than someone from French territory, cannot drive a vehicle in Senegal without having an IDP.
Evidence of Your Domestic License:-
IDP is the translated version of your valid driver’s license. Hence, it serves as documentary evidence of the fact that you hold a valid driving license in your country of residence and are eligible to drive vehicles in your state/country.
Valid Identity Document in a Foreign Country:-
A valid IDP doesn’t only allow you to drive vehicles in a foreign country, but it also serves as a valid identity document in a foreign country. Having an IDP allows you the liberty to carry only a limited number of documents while exploring the country instead of carrying several documents as proof of your identity.
Eligible to Rent a Car:-
The tourists are required to present a valid IDP if they want to rent a car in Senegal and car renting agencies refuse to provide services without the provision of a valid IDP. Hence, an IDP makes you eligible to hire vehicles during your stay in Senegal.
Peace of Mind:-
Even if you don’t intend to drive vehicles during your stay in Senegal, having an IDP with you gives you peace of mind and makes you eligible to drive vehicles in case of any emergency or any unfortunate situation with the driver of your vehicle.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Senegal:-
Non-citizens of Senegal are bound to abide by all the traffic laws of the country which apply to the citizens of Senegal. In fact, in addition to having a local driver’s license, non-citizens of Senegal must have a valid IDP with them if they wish to drive a private vehicle or wish to rent a car during their stay in the country unless their local driving license is already in French. Nationals of French overseas territories, whose national driving license is already in the French language, can easily drive around Senegal even without having an IDP for up to one year.
However, what you should keep in mind is that the local police impose heavy fines in case of violation of traffic laws of the country. Hence, make sure to familiarize yourself with the relevant rules and regulations to avoid the imposition of such fines.
When should I get a Senegalese Driver’s License?
The citizens of Senegal, above the age of eighteen (18) years, are eligible to apply for a driver’s license. The process of getting a Senegalese Driver’s license involved the following steps:-
- Taking practical driving lessons for at least (10) hours
- Taking theoretical driving lessons
- Getting a medical certificate after undergoing a medical test to determine whether you can drive vehicles or not
- Submission of the request before Regional Land Transport Division for issuance of driving license
Now you know the process of applying for a Senegalese Driver’s license, however, the documents required to obtain a driving license are listed below:-
- Four (04) passport-size photographs
- Residence Certificate
- Certified copy of your national ID card or a Civil Status document
- Payment of Government Fees through tax stamps
- A medical certificate being documentary evidence of the fact that you are eligible to drive.
In addition to citizens of Senegal, foreigners having their national driving license in the French language are also required to apply for a driver’s license after the lapse of one year in Senegal.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Senegal:-
The validity period of an IDP ranges from six months to a maximum of three years. However, the validity of your IDP also depends on your national driving license as well. The basic document for issuance of an IDP is your domestic license, hence, if your domestic license expires before the expiry date of your IDP, it makes your IDP expire as well.
Given the above, while traveling on your trip in a foreign country, make sure that your local driving license remains valid throughout the trip. However, there is a solution to every problem. Hence, if your local driving license expires while in Senegal, don’t panic. Just contact the local authority who issued your original domestic license through their helpline, website, or online applications and get your driving license renewed.
However, if your local license is still valid but the validity period of your IDP issued by Senegalese authorities expires, you will need the following documents to get your IDP renewed:-
- First and foremost, the original International Driving Permit has expired now.
- Three colored passport-size photographs of yourself
- Government fees in the shape of tax stamps
In any unfortunate event of a lost or stolen IDP issued by Senegalese authorities, you will be required to produce the following documents for issuance of a new IDP:-
- A certificate of loss of International driving permit
- A certified copy of your international driving permit
- Four colored passport-size photographs of yourself
Car Rental in Senegal:-
A variety of car rental agencies are working in Senegal which offer different kinds of vehicles for rent from compact to luxury. The kind of vehicle shall depend not only on your budget but also on the areas which you want to visit, as most of the road trips in Senegal require Landcruiser, 4×4 compact vehicles, and in some cases luxury vehicles.
A compact vehicle may be hired for $33 per day while a premium vehicle may cost you up to $99 per day. The car renting agencies also provide traveling equipment for rent including camping gear, electric appliances, infant seats, and several others. The rent of these additional perquisites will be in addition to the rent of your vehicle.
The minimum age requirement for renting a vehicle is twenty-three (23) years in Senegal and some car renting agencies may charge an additional fee for drivers below the age of twenty-five (25) years. The process of getting a rented vehicle is simple, all you have to produce is your valid license, IDP, copy of your passport or Visa, your contact number, and payment of the required fee. Have fun driving in Senegal.
Driving and Safety in Senegal:-
Being a contracting party to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, 1968, the country is bound to enforce traffic laws and regulations in accordance with international traffic rules. Here are some of the things/rules you should be aware of if you intend to drive a vehicle in Senegal:-
Road Conditions in Senegal:-
Senegal is considered one of the most modern countries in Africa. The road conditions in major cities are quite good however, other roads of the country are not maintained well enough, which makes it difficult to drive. A lot of roads are damaged due to the rainy season, hence, you will have to deal with potholes and cracks. Be very careful while driving in Senegal especially when there is water on the roads.
In addition to the above, you will find people walking on the road as well as animal-driven vehicles. Be patient, use the mirrors of your car and find your way.
Road Signs and Traffic Lights:-
Most of the roads in Senegal lack traffic signs as well as traffic lights. All you have to do is be careful of the potholes, road cracks, and speed bumps. The best way to be safe is to keep an appropriate distance while driving and keep an eye on the vehicle ahead of you.
Maximum Speed Limits in Senegal:-
The maximum speed allowed on roads in Senegal is 90 KPH on highways, 50 KPH in residential areas, and 130 KPH on motorways.
Right Hand Side Driving in Senegal:-
In Senegal, vehicles are driven on the right-hand side of the road. At the roundabouts, priority is given to the vehicle coming from the right side, and larger vehicles have prioritized right of way over smaller vehicles.
Documents to Carry While Driving:-
While driving in Senegal, you will be required to keep your Carte Grise (i.e. Vehicle Registration certificate) along with a copy of your insurance at all times in addition to your driving license/IDP.
Drunk Driving in Senegal:-
There are no defined laws regarding drunk driving in Senegal. However, being a rational person, you should never drive vehicles under the influence of alcohol.
Use of Seat Belts:-
The use of seat belts is mandatory for drivers as well as passengers in the front seat of the vehicle. However, keeping in view the road conditions, potholes, and speed breakers, all the passengers should wear a seat belt to ensure proper safety.
Use of Mobile Phone While Driving:-
The use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited while driving. However, drivers are allowed to use hands-free devices as long as they don’t get distracted and pay full attention to the road.
Top Five Destinations to Visit in Senegal:-
Senegal is a beautiful country in Western Africa, and the first African country to host the Olympics. 93% of the population of Senegal consists of Muslims while the official language of the country is French. The federal capital of the country is Dakar city, which is famous for its lively markets and music culture. The country of Senegal is known for its amazing colonial culture, secluded beaches, surf breaks, and remote riverine deltas. Here is the list of top five destinations in Senegal which may serve as a guide for your visit to the country:-
Dakar, The Capital City:-
The city of Dakar, having more than two million residents, is famous for its active life and is home to the main markets of the country including Sandaga, Kermel, and Tilene. The tourist points in Dakar City include The City Port, Independence Square, The Dakar Grand Mosque, and Presidential Palace. The city of Dakar also offers nature and wildlife tours, cultural and theme tours, a visit to La Maison des Esclaves, the Island of Gorée, and many more.
Lake Retba also known as Lac Rose or Pink Lake is one of the most wanted tourist destinations in Senegal. The pink lake is known for its high salt content, due to which people can float in the lake just like the Dead Sea. The best season to witness and enjoy the pink color of the lake is November to June which is generally referred to as the Dry Season. UNESCO is considering Lake Retba to be recognized as A World Heritage Site.
In addition to salt, the salt workers also extract white gold from the salt dunes of the lake. The mesmerizing view of Pink Lake is just one hour drive away from the city of Dakar.
Saint-Louis, The Most Beautiful City:-
Saint-Louis is the ancient capital of Senegal and is considered the most beautiful city in the country. It is not only the most beautiful city in Senegal but also one of the largest cities as well which is known for its rich history and culture. The Pink lake is still under consideration by UNESCO however, the city of Saint-Louis has been recognized as a World Heritage Site.
The historical buildings of the city include the Governor’s Palace, The Cathedral, and the ancient yet beautiful mosques. Saint-Louis is very different from the capital city of the country being more traditional despite sharing its name with an American City.
The Beaches of Senegal:-
The things Senegal is famous for include its beautiful beaches. If you are a beach lover, Senegal is your paradise being home to thirty (30) golden sand beaches all around the country. The most beautiful and famous beaches of Senegal are listed below for your reference:-
- Plague du Virage
- Plage des Mamelles
- Plage de Yoff BCEAO
- Ile de Ngor
- Plage Popenguine
Private beaches of the country offer high-end hotels, beach clubs, and exotic restaurants. A few of the most famous private beaches are Terrou-Bi, Marina Bay, and Lagoon 1.
Djoudj National Bird Park:-
Djoudj National Bird Park is considered the most important bird sanctuary in the world and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The national bird park is spread over 60,000 hectares and is home to thousands of birds and animals. You can find Gambian geese, flamingos, waders, vultures, gray pelicans, ducks, vultures, monitor lizards, spatulas, egrets, or pythons, crocodiles, red monkeys, and many more species running around the park. This beautiful one of its kind park remains open for tourists from November to June and is just sixty (60 KM) away from the famous city of Saint Louis.
Frequently Asked Questions:-
Does an IDP Replace Your Native Driver’s License?
No, an IDP does not replay your native driver’s license in any case as IDP is not a license itself. Rather International Driving Permits are just the translated version of your national driving license which remains valid as long as your national driving license is valid.
What is the legal driving age in Senegal?
The legal driving age in Senegal is eighteen (18) just like many countries. However, you cannot hire vehicles for rent unless you are above the age of twenty-three (23).
What should I do in case of an accident on the road?
If you are involved in a road accident, make sure to report the accident to the local police station within twelve hours of the accident. It is suggested not to resolve the issue on your own, rather contact the local authorities and provide them with all the necessary information.
Can I drive a vehicle in Senegal without having an IDP?
If you are a citizen of any French Territory and your local driving license is already in the French language, you can drive vehicles for one year even without having an IDP. However, after the expiry of one year, you will have to apply for verification of your driving license by Senegalese authorities.
Is it safe to drive at night?
Driving may be a little unsafe at night due to the lack of street lights and traffic signs. Another risk for late-night driving is landmines. Hence, it is advised to avoid driving at night unless absolutely necessary.
Can a holder of a learner license apply for IDP?
A valid driving license is a prerequisite for issuance of IDP while a learner license is just a provisional license. Hence, the holder of a learner license cannot apply for an IDP.
Can I use Mobile Phone while driving?
No, the use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited while driving, however, drivers are allowed to use hands-free devices while keeping their focus on the road.