This is a very frequently asked question from European clients visiting Namibia who are embarking on a Self-Drive or Guided Self-Drive tour within Namibia or included parts of southern Africa. How do rental companies handle European driving licences and are they legal? Please be aware that we are only touching base on European – and not other International Licences here, like U.S.A, India, China or similar. So included are countries like Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, England, Belgium, Luxemburg and furthermore. This Blog Post will make things easier for everyone seeking clarity on this matter.
So first matter at hand, a foreign or international driver’s license is invalid, unless:
• The license has been issued in English; or
• The license contains a photograph and signature of the card holder
• In the case that your driver’s license is not in the English language, please note that both the national and international driving license have to be brought along at all times. The international driving license is valid only in conjunction with the national driving license.
So what we are trying to point out is the following:
No matter where you come from, your driver’s licence (no matter card or booklet) must have the English translation “Driver’s Licence” somewhere on the card or booklet. If no translation is shown one is forced to obtain an AA-Approved Co-Licence from an AA-Approved outlet. Normally they are quite easy to get and also available in Namibia. Namibia has many cultures and many languages roaming within the country but English is a given standard when it comes to legal documents. Documents in Italian or Spanish will bring you no good here, once requested. Hence Namibia was a former Colony of Germany the German language is very well known here and travelling without any AA-Documents one will still run into problems hence it is handled as illegal. Bigger problems come in to play once any Border-Crossing occurs eg. from Namibia to Botswana. Things will look very different then and a crossing denial is to be expected.
Have a look at the samples below for a better understanding:
Looking at the two Sample Driving Licence’s above one can find the English document-explanation listed within the heading on top of each driving licence card. If the simple Text of “Driving Licence” is readable on the card, no problems for driving within Namibia should be of concern (depending on your country of origin*).
Above is the standard German “Führerschein” as issued throughout Germany. No English translation of the Word “Führerschein” to “Driving Licence” is anywhere visible. So as a visitor to Namibia this will be much of an issue hence if no English translation is visible makes it illegal throughout all of southern Africa. So in general, Namibia will be a problem but on a Self-Drive Tour, an AA-Document is recommended which can be requested online by clicking this link. Another option would be to visit your nearest AA-Outlet to get such a document established for you on site.
Above is a sample on what to expect for a temporary AA-Driving Licence. If you go to an approved AA-Outlet, make sure to take clear ID/Passport Photo’s along.
One thing is for certain that International driving permits which are issued via the AA Namibia-Outlet are issued according to the terms of the International Convention relative to Motor Traffic of 1949 and to holders of valid driver’s licenses issued in Namibia. So for international visitors please have a look at the link listed above.
Although International Driving Permits are recognized internationally, holders should carry their valid driver’s license when travelling abroad or inside Namibia. Most countries throughout the world recognize visitors national driving licences, but an AA Driving Licence is recommended nevertheless.
One good thing about an AA-Permit is that the document is multilingual, thus convenient for use in non-English speaking countries. It is generally familiar to law enforcement officers and some car rental companies may insist on customers having an international driving permit. While AA-Outlets take in-depth precaution to ensure that the information supplied is correct, the Company does not accept any responsibility or liability in this regard. Some locations are just out of the ordinary, but in regards to Namibia, a general AA-Permit is 99,9% of the time acceptable. Like we mentioned above, Border crossings could become an issue without one and driving without any English IDP’s is considered illegal in Namibia.
Distinguish the following:
There are two types of AA-Permits available according to the AA-Enterprise…
- A 1949 Convention IDP/permit is usually issued and is recognised in most countries.
- A 1926 Convention IDP/permit is required for the following countries: Brazil, Burundi, Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia.
⇒ There are some general outlines which one should be aware of pin-pointing each diverse licence as such. Please have a look/read on this link from the AA-Organisation itself.
⇒ Our recommendation – Visit this Site “International Driving Permit” to get a once of solution. They will help you out instantly, just to save you the headache of all the Website’s out there.
Image above: AA-Permit for Namibia
So before you embark to Namibia for your vacation, kindly make certain that these requirements are adhered to in order to ensure that the insurance is valid in the terms of the rental agreement from the Company which you are hiring from. Vehicles cannot be handed over to clients who do not comply with these regulations mentioned above. Make sure to speak to your Rental Company who will gladly give you the best information needed.