Driving in Kenya can be an adventure, whether through a national park or just up the road to the market
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 many roads are in poor condition. They are often potholed and badly maintained, although a revamping of the road network is currently underway and new roads are in better shape. 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 these are unlikely to offer a full back-up network in the event of a breakdown, unlike large firms such as Avis or Sixt. 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 who want 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.
In Kenya, you drive on the left-hand side of the road and only vehicles with the steering wheel on the right side can be imported. There are also restrictions on the age of the car.
Newcomers to Kenya can use their foreign or international driver’s licence for up to three months. Staff members are encouraged to apply for a local driver’s licence through the UN Host Country Services Unit (HCSU) to comply with the local driving requirements. The driver’s licence is issued for a fee of KSh700 (US$7).
Kenyan driving licences can be issued to holders of international or national driving licences from most countries, upon the completion of Form VII and its accompanying documentation. Because it is difficult to obtain a Kenyan driving licence, staff members are advised to ensure that they, their spouse and any dependant 18 years of age or older travel to Kenya with valid driving licences. National driving licences which are not in English must be translated and certified by their respective Embassy.
The Automobile Association of Kenya (AA) can help with acquiring and renewing international driving licences, as well as getting a Kenyan driving licence after successfully completing a driving examination. Dependants must be over the age of 18 before they can be eligible to obtain a Kenyan driving licence.
Types of Driving Licenses in Kenya
There are six (6) main categories of driving licences in Kenya:
1. Class E – Allows drivers 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 drivers to drive tractors.
4. Class F and G – Allows drivers to drive motorcycles up to 50 c.c. and over 50 c.c. respectively.
5. Class H – Allows drivers to operate invalid carriages.
6. Class I – Allows drivers to drive articulated motor vehicles, prime movers, fork lifts, shovels, etc.
Note: All Kenyan driving licences are initially Class E. If someone wishes to expand 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 them and picks up the driving licences 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. In the meantime, it is recommended that you keep copies of your driving licence. Driving licence information may be required for various reasons and it is important to have the information readily available.
Documentation to Submit
Contact Host Country to confirm required documentation. The submission process has recently been updated by the Government. (as of October 2018)
JimCab (operates near the UN)
Most areas have their own local operations