Driving in Kenya

Driving in Kenya is not for the faint-hearted. Although driving through Kenya at one‟s own pace and taking in the scenery is a nice idea, the fact is that road infrastructure is poor. Roads are potholed and poorly maintained. New arrivals will also find that many road users drive aggressively and recklessly, so expats are advised to exercise caution when driving and crossing roads in Kenya.

Those who do decide to drive in Kenya will find that most global car rental companies have branches in Nairobi and Mombasa. There are smaller companies that offer more competitive rates, but but these are unlikely to offer a full back-up network in the event of a breakdown, as the big names such as Avis or Sixt would be able to. Many car rental companies in Kenya offer the option to hire a car with a driver. Expats who are settled in Kenya tend to buy a car and hire a driver. Expats looking to travel off the beaten track should look at buying or hiring a 4×4, as these are better equipped to deal with dirt roads. Furthermore, road signage is Kenya is very poor, so expats should ensure they have a good map or GPS system.

Driving in Kenya is on the left hand side of the road and only right-hand drive vehicles can be imported. The road conditions are generally poor but a revamping of the road network is currently underway. The new roads are in better shape. Newcomers to Kenya can use their foreign driver‟s license for up to three months as can International driver‟s licenses. However, staff members are encouraged to apply for a local driver‟s license to comply with the local driving requirements. The driver‟s license is issued for a Ksh700 (US$10) fee.

Driving Licences

Kenyan driving licences can be issued to holders of international driving licences, or national driving licences from most countries, upon the completion of Form VII and its accompanying documentation. Because it is difficult to obtain a Kenya driving licence, you are advised to ensure that you, your spouse and any dependant 18 years of age or older travel to Kenya with valid driving licence. National driving licences which are not in English must be translated and certified by their respective Embassy.

The Automobile Association of Kenya (AA) can assist in the acquisition and renewal of international driving licences, as well as arrange for a Kenyan driving licence following the successful completion of a driving examination. Dependants must be over the age of 18 before they can be eligible to obtain a Kenya driving licence.

Types of Driving Licenses in Kenya

There are six (6) main categories of driving licences in Kenya:

1. Class E – Allows a driver to drive light weight vehicles only.

2. Classes B, C, and E – Allows drivers to drive both light and heavy weight commercial vehicles.

3. Class D – Allows a driver to drive tractors.

4. Class F and G – Allow drivers to drive motor cycles up to 50 c.c. and over 50 c.c. respectively.

5. Class H – Allows a driver to operate invalid carriages.

6. Class I – Allow drivers to drive articulated motor vehicles, prime movers, fork lifts, shovels, etc.

Note: All Kenyan driving licences are initially endorsed with a Class E licence. If someone wishes to expand upon the list of vehicles they are licenced to drive, they must submit additional applications.

How long are Driving Licences Valid?

Kenyan driving licences are only valid for one (1) year. It is an offense for someone to drive without a valid driving licence. All motorists are required to carry a valid driving licence at all times. While the HCSU checks the forms, delivers and picks the driving licences up from the authorities, it is your responsibility to ensure that the local licence is renewed on a yearly basis.

How Long Does it Take?

Obtaining a Kenyan driving licence generally takes 32 working days. After 2-3 weeks, you will be requested to submit your international/national driving licence. The international/national driving licence will be returned and an interim Kenyan licence will be provided. During this time, it is recommended that copies of your driving licence be kept. Driving licence information may be required for various reasons and it is important to have the information readily available.

Documentation to Submit

The following documentation needs to be submitted to the HCSU: 3

Completed original sets of Form VII.

3

Passport size photos taken within the last six (6) months.

1

Valid international, or national driving licence.

2

Copies of an Embassy endorsed translation of the international, or national driving licence (if licence is not in English).

2

Copies of your valid international, or national driving licence.

2

Copies of your passport cover page.

2

Copies of your passport page with their photo and passport number.

2

Copies of your Entry Permit (if applicable).

2

Copies of your Re-Entry Pass (if applicable).