International Driving Permit Trinidad and Tobago
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 Trinidad and Tobago?
An IDP works as a translation of your license and as a form of identification, particularly if you want to explore the country by vehicle. While your IDP will be valid for one year, you can utilize it in Trinidad and Tobago for up to 90 days from arrival before needing a local license.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
Trinidad and Tobago was a part of the Geneva international motor traffic convention in 1968 and was amongst the countries that signed the agreement. The treaty was designed to enhance driver safety by introducing standard safety laws. International Driving Permits work in conjunction with the United Nations agreement on road traffic and are only granted by authorized institutions of the United Nations. Over the years, there have been three international motor traffic conventions – 1926 (Paris), 1959 (Geneva), and 1968 (Vienna).
Benefits of Carrying an IDP
Removes Language Barrier
Local law enforcement may be unable to read the information on your foreign license. With an IDP, they can clearly understand and note your details.
Form of Identification
An IDP is a convenient travel document as it can also be used as a form of identification.
Car rental companies
Most car rental companies require an IDP for you to be able to rent out a vehicle.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Trinidad and Tobago
Short-term visitors vs. residents
Short-term visitors can use their domestic driving license alongside an IDP for up to 90 days.
On the other hand, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you will need to make a local driver’s license to continue driving in Trinidad and Tobago.
Car Rental in Trinidad and Tobago
Requirements for car rental
You must have a valid IDP and a valid driving license from your country to rent a car. You must be twenty-five years old and have a valid license for at least two years.
Deposit and costs for car rental
A rental car in Trinidad and Tobago costs around $50 daily. Economy cars like Hyundai Accent are the most commonly booked rental car types. Cheap cars can be found at companies like Ace ($34/day), Alamo ($39/day), and Hertz ($40/day). Kayak is a highly-rated rental car company in Trinidad and Tobago. The average cost of renting a car for one week is around $308, and for a month, it is $1319.
In Trinidad and Tobago, you must have third-party insurance to cover any damage to other individuals or their property. If you are found driving without one, you will face a penalty of TT$5,000, jail for two years, and cancellation of your license for at least three years.
Driving and Safety in Trinidad and Tobago
Speed limits to follow
You must be cautious about the speed of your car as fixed and mobile speed cameras are installed and operated in Trinidad and Tobago. Three fundamental speed limits hold there – in the city, 55 km/hr (34 mph), and in the countryside, it is 80 km/hr (50 mph) and 110 km/hr (68 mph) on highways.
Drinking and driving
The official limit is 0.35 mg of alcohol per 1 mg of breath. Upon breaking this rule, the enforcement officer can arrest you immediately after the breath testing. Two breaths shall be taken for verification. The first offense is $12000 or 3 years imprisonment, the second offense is $22000 or 5 years imprisonment, and the third offense is loss of your permit permanently.
Trinidad and Tobago have several good four-lane highways and one-sided controlled-access highways. Countryside roads are narrow and sometimes deep, with drainage trenches on either side. Frequent congestion, as a result, is seen quite often. Services or roadside assistance is limited and may be subject to lengthy delays. Landslides and sinkholes are pretty standard.
Driving tips in Trinidad and Tobago
- Watch out for potholes and landslides
- Driving styles are very unexpected, and you may want to be cautious about tailgating, abrupt stops, and changing lanes without signaling
- Trinidad and Tobago has left-aligned traffic, and all signs are in English
- It is vital not to leave any valuables in your car unattended
- Always use the steering wheel lock, and park in a secure off-road lot
- Children below the age of five must be seated in an appropriate restraint
- Ask locals or rental companies for essential traffic signals. Some drivers prefer hand signals, while some use indicators or break signs while turning or slowing down. Always maintain a safe distance if in confusion
- Fuel prices are relatively low. Gas stations usually have attendants and may operate at irregular hours.
- Seat belts are required for all persons in the vehicle
Top 3 Places to Visit in Trinidad and Tobago
Maracas Bay, Trinidad
Bordered by coconut palms, Maracas bay is the most famous beach in Trinidad and Tobago. It is a 40-minute drive through the mountainous rainforest from the Port of Spain. You can rent umbrellas and chairs at the beach, and food trucks and vendors provide you with snacks. Visiting Las Cuevas Beach for an off-beat destination nearby comes highly recommended!
Englishman’s Bay, Tobago
Englishman’s Bay is about 1.5 km (about a mile) from Castara and is a secluded beach. The drive is a narrow, winding road surrounded by jungle-cloaked hills and palm trees. It is a very romantic place around Trinidad and Tobago. You can rent umbrellas and chairs at this beach too.
Asa Wright Nature Centre & Lodge, Trinidad
Asa Wright Nature Centre is a paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts. But any nature lover will also enjoy this 1500 acres of dense forest in the Arima and Aripo Valleys. Many bird species are spotted there, like Hummingbirds, Woodcreepers, Pygmy owls, Trogons, and the rare Nocturnal Oilbird. Mainly, Hummingbirds lovers can spot two more sanctuaries nearby – Yerette sanctuary and Adventure Farm & Nature Reserve. This plot was used for cocoa, coffee, and citrus plantation in the olden times. Birding tours are also available. Places to stay and grab some food are available from nearby cottages too.
Other popular destinations include Pigeon Point, Port of Spain, Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Little Tobago Island, Mount St. Benedict Monastery, Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, Main Ridge Forest Reserve, and Fort King George & the Tobago Museum.
Am I required to have an International Driving Permit in Trinidad and Tobago?
Yes, you are required to have an IDP alongside your original license to rent and drive a vehicle in Trinidad and Tobago.
How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in Trinidad and Tobago?
Since Trinidad and Tobago was contracted to the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic in 1949, the IDP itself is valid for one year.
On which side do you drive in Trinidad and Tobago?
Motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road. Most vehicles are right-hand drive, but left-hand vehicles are available at rental agencies.
- LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – MOTOR VEHICLES AND ROAD TRAFFIC ACT https://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/laws2/alphabetical_list/lawspdfs/48.50.pdf
- Traffic and road conditions in Trinidad Tobago – https://www.countryreports.org/country/TrinidadandTobago/traffic.htm
- Tips for renting a vehicle and driving in Trinidad and Tobago – https://www.kayak.com/Trinidad-and-Tobago-Car-Rentals.242.crc.html
- Various driving penalties in Trinidad and Tobago – http://arrivealivett.com/road-safety/motor-vehicles-and-road-traffic-act/#:~:text=DRIVING%20WITHOUT%20INSURANCE&text=The%20penalty%20is%20a%20fine%20of%20TT%245%2C000%2C%20imprisonment%20for,for%20at%20least%203%20years.