International Driving Permit Zimbabwe
Stunning landscapes, spectacular heritage, and super friendly locals – that’s Zimbabwe in a nutshell. Zimbabwe is a jewel regarding wildlife as one of Africa’s many tourist countries. If you are visiting Zimbabwe, driving across the country is the best way to make the most of your holiday. Here’s what you need to know.
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 Zimbabwe?
The IDP came into existence due to the Motor Traffic conventions held in Paris, Vienna, and Geneva between 1926 – 1968. More than 150 countries worldwide, including Zimbabwe, have signed to recognize an IDP as a valid form of documentation permitting non-residents/citizens to drive as freely as locals. Since it is not easy or possible in some instances to obtain a local driving license in other countries, an IDP serves as valid identification for drivers.
If you are stopped by traffic authorities while traveling in Zimbabwe, you have to show your IDP, and you are good to go. Since most tourists generally forget to keep their documents in order, traffic authorities are particularly vigilant regarding foreign travelers. You may have seen some agencies offering international driving license services at a much cheaper price claiming it to be affordable. However, there is a vast difference between an International driving permit and an international driver’s license.
Benefits of having an international driving permit in Zimbabwe
Smoother Road Trips
Road trips can be extremely delightful and memorable unless you are frequently pulled over to have your papers checked. Further, if you are a non-resident traveling in Zimbabwe, be assured that you have multiple ID checks waiting for you at any time. Whether it is renting a car or driving a motor vehicle, you are bound to be asked for your papers by authorities or agencies at some point. In that conjunction, having your IDP and your local driving license can get you back on the road in no time. Just remember to be polite and friendly to the authorities checking your IDP.
Zimbabwe has several travel agencies that let you rent any vehicle you want. However, one document that rental agencies rely upon is an IDP. Since that is a legally acceptable form of ID, most agencies are known to request motorists and passengers to have an approved IDP with them when renting. If you have forgotten to get your IDP and need to get it while you are traveling abroad, all you need is to get on our website and get your IDP in under 30 minutes. You can get a quick confirmation on rental vehicles you like if you have your IDP with you.
Serves as a versatile ID
Whether entering a private bar or booking an Airbnb, an IDP can be handy in any situation. An IDP application gets approved only when the individual has an existing driver’s license with a validity of at least two years. In foreign countries, this shows that any IDP holder also has a valid ID in their original place of residence. Being recognized to such an extent, an IDP is as good as a local driver’s license in Zimbabwe. Moreover, if you are someone who prefers to keep their original IDs safe and secure, you can always have your IDP on you to avoid mishaps.
Driving Requirements for non-citizens in Zimbabwe
English license vs. Other languages
If you have a valid license in English that consists of your photo, you may be able to use it for up to 90 days from your date of arrival in Zimbabwe. However, if your driver’s license consists of other languages, for example, if you are from South America or Japan, you’ll need to get an IDP. Traffic police are incredibly vigilant regarding road traffic violations and possessing appropriate papers in Zimbabwe. So if you are planning to drive across the country, it is best to get your documents in order. If your existing driver’s license is not in English, apply for an IDP today.
Legal Driving Age
Zimbabwe is pretty relaxed regarding the legal driving age, with 16 years being the minimum requirement. However, if you want to rent a car, you must be at least 21 years, and in rare cases, you must be aged about 23 years or more. Zimbabwe requires drivers under 25 years to pay a young driver’s excess fee. You can contact our team about IDP and details of exempting young drivers’ excess fees for tourists.
When should I get a license in Zimbabwe?
If you get an IDP through our agency, you can use it in Zimbabwe for up to 1 year. Our team can help you with a hassle-free extension procedure if you intend to extend your validity. Unless you plan to reside in Zimbabwe soon, we recommend you stick with an IDP. To drive vehicles in Zimbabwe with a valid government-issued ID, you must undergo the country’s driving test and clear it. The whole process can be time-consuming, which might not be suitable if you are there for work.
Until a couple of months ago, the country issued metal driver’s licenses and has recently switched to plastic cards. Despite the leap, many citizens swiftly have trouble obtaining a local driving ID quickly. Suppose you are there for over a year but plan to return to your native shortly after. In that case, we highly recommend purchasing an IDP instead of going through the tedious task of applying for a government-issued ID.
How can I renew my IDP in Zimbabwe?
Our website has straightforward and easy-to-follow instructions for renewing your IDP. Many agencies charge exorbitant amounts for renewal, unlike our agency. When traveling to Zimbabwe frequently or temporarily residing there, an IDP with one year validity period might not be sufficient. It’s not advisable to drive around Zimbabwe without a proper ID, so you must ensure that your IDP is up-to-date. Travelers face more fines from the local police in the city when they are caught without appropriate documents.
Our agency offers renewal processes to help you renew your IDP abroad. Additionally, we provide a complete guide with clear instructions on our website, making your renewal as effortless as possible.
Car Rental in Zimbabwe
Renting vehicles can give you more flexibility in planning and enjoying a trip in Zimbabwe. You will be shocked to see how many tourists visit Zimbabwe and travel by road. While an IDP makes it easy to drive vehicles in the country, here’s what you need to know about renting a car.
- Most car rental agencies close to the airport can be pricier than others. Avis & EuropCar offers pickup and drop-off in Victoria falls, Harare and Bulawayo. You can contact them in advance and check for an early bird offer. Rock shade and Car Hire 3000 are good agencies that provide safe, quality cars for rent.
- If you are planning to explore rugged roads and go camping, opt for manapools.com or Bushlore, which offer a wide range of 4×4 vehicles. Several agencies specializing in renting out 4×4 for campers also have a large variety of camping kits that you can rent out simultaneously.
- You must carry a valid driver’s license with a photo if you are from an English-speaking country. While many countries provide their driver’s ID in English, travelers from other language countries need an IDP to rent a car in Zimbabwe. Further, the legal driving age is 16 in Zimbabwe, whereas travelers intending to drive vehicles must be at least 21 to rent a car.
Driving rules to remember in Zimbabwe
Always Carry the Required Documents
If you have purchased an International Driving Permit, ensure that you carry it along with your primary driver’s ID. Traffic authorities mostly ask to see the IDP and your license side by side to verify the contents. Therefore, it is ideal to have both. At any cost, do not drive with an expired license. If you have rented a car, ensure the vehicle’s insurance is up-to-date.
Do not drive under the influence of alcohol.
Zimbabwe is very strict regarding driving under the influence, which is the root cause of most accidents, particularly during the weekends and holidays. A blood alcohol content of 80 Mg and above per 100 ml could get you a fine of up to $60. It’s better to stay safe and avoid driving on days when you are drinking.
Obey Speed Limits
You can maintain a speed limit of 120 Km/h on open roads and 60 km/h on town roads while driving in Zimbabwe. However, while driving through national parks, you must maintain a speed of no more than 40 km/h. A rate higher than that would attract a fine.
Laws on Seatbelts
Zimbabwe does not impose strict seat belt regulations. Only the front passengers of a car are mandated to wear a seat belt, although it is safer for all passengers to buckle up. There are no specific child seat laws, but if you rent a car, you could check with them and get child seats for added safety.
No mobile use while driving
Zimbabwe traffic authorities are enthusiastic about levying fines on individuals driving a car while texting or talking. If you have a hands-free device, you can use your phone to a certain extent. You can ask for a car phone holder as an add-on when renting a car.
Side of the Road and Road Signs
Zimbabwe is well connected with major roads across the country, primarily through national parks. The country drives on the left side of the road. Be mindful of the road signs that indicate sharp turns and blind curves to avoid accidents. The road conditions are pretty good, and there are fewer accidents as long as you’re within the speed limit.
Top 4 Places to Visit in Zimbabwe
Visit the lush Nyanga National Park
An area of high grasslands, waterfalls, and evergreen forests, the Nyanga National Park is a paradise for hikers. Several lakeside cottages offer bed and breakfast for tourists, and bird watching and trout fishing are the most commonly enjoyed activities in this location.
Stay on a houseboat in Lake Kariba
Lake Kariba is the world’s largest manmade dam and offers stunning sunset views from its various accommodations on the lake shore. Lake Kariba also has several houseboats and cruise vessels that provide comfortable and luxurious experiences. Stay as a group or with your loved one and bask in the beauty of Lake Kariba in the evenings.
Marvel at the beauty of Victoria Falls
How can one not visit Victoria falls while in Zimbabwe? Victoria Falls is the natural barrier serving as the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia with an equally picturesque town of the same name. Since tourism hiked in the region, several activities ranging from rafting to helicopter rides over the falls for tourists.
Known as the “Sunshine City,” Harare is a city of modern and contemporary architecture with several flowering trees and beautiful parks scattered across the city. Serving as the commercial center of the country, Harare has several art galleries and craft markets which you can buy local souvenirs from. Dine at the local restaurants, stroll through the parks, or spend half a day at the museum. Harare is the perfect place to be a tourist.
What are the road trip essentials in Zimbabwe?
Based on your co-passengers, you might need a child safety seat or a car with more legroom. Plan and get an excellent rental vehicle as per your itinerary and needs. No matter what situation you are presented with, you need to have your documents to verify your identification, and an International driving permit is a must-have at all times. Additionally, you need to choose a recently serviced car with up-to-date insurance.
What should motorists remember while in Zimbabwe?
Even motorists must obtain a mandatory International driving permit if their ID is not in English. Motorists must never forget to wear helmets and stay within the prescribed speed limits to avoid accidents. Remember to secure your luggage in place with adequate ropes etc.
Do I need to provide a recent photo for my International Driving Permit application?
You need to have your most recent picture attached with your application for an international driving permit. However, you must ensure that your original ID is valid while applying for an IDP.
How can I differentiate between an IDL and an IDP?
Unfortunately, some agencies make an IDL sound as convincing as an IDP in terms of its acceptability, and hiring a reputed agency such as ours can help you avoid applying for an IDL by mistake.