South Africa and Foreign Driver's Licences

When hiring a car in South Africa, most car rental companies, including First Car Rental, require foreign drivers to hold an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as their Foreign Driver's Licence.

Foreign Driver's Licence

This is because there are certain Foreign Driver's Licences that may not be covered in the event of an incident without the presentation of an IDP.

This car rental requirement is different to South African law, whereby international visitors who hold a Foreign Driver's Licence are permitted to use that licence to drive for up to a year after their arrival date in the country.

This is on condition that the Foreign Driver's Licence is in English and bears a photograph of the driver for easy identification. If the original Foreign Driver's Licence has your photograph but is in a foreign language and not in English - i.e. French, German, Russian - then it must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

About International Driving Permits

An International Driving Permit is not a licence in itself and cannot be used independently or instead of your Foreign Driver's Licence. It serves to authenticate your Driver's Licence, because, if you do have an accident, insurance and car rental companies will insist that you produce one.

Unfortunately, there are licences that do not display a photograph of the holder. Many car insurers and car rental companies such as First Car Rental insist on proof of identity. An International Driving Permit will instantly solve all these situations, and, is often used as validation of identity.

The International Driving Permit is slightly larger than a normal passport and bears multiple language translations (including English) of your own current driver's license. In addition, it displays your photograph and some vital statistics.

Drivers should bear in mind that their International Driving Permit:

• Is only valid for driving a vehicle within the categories that are covered by their Foreign Driver's Licence;

• Is no longer valid once the actual corresponding Foreign Driver's Licence has expired;

• Must be obtained in the driver's own country prior to their departure for South Africa;

• Is not valid for driving in the country where it was issued.

International Driving Permit

Using a South African Driver's Licence overseas

For the same reasons as stated above, it is recommended that South Africans planning on driving abroad obtain an International Driving Permit before departing on their trip. The best place to obtain an International Driving Permit in South Africa is from the AA. Find out more here. (It takes the AA one day to issue an IDP to South African drivers).

What you need when applying for an IDP:

•South African Identity Document;

•A valid South African driver's licence;

•AA Membership card (if you are an AA Member);

•Two (2) glossy passport size photograph per International Driving Permit type;

•The IDP application fee of R265.00.

PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to retake a driving test when applying for an IDP.

To find out more about hiring a car from First Car Rental, read our car hire FAQs here.

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