Travel Passport

Why carry an IDP while driving in Rwanda?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Rwanda highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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How to get your IDP

We’ve streamlined the application process down by creating a platform that guides you so you know exactly what you’ll need to successfully complete your application

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1. Apply Online

Start your application for International Driver's License Get the IDP.​​

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2. Upload Photos

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Top Destinations in Rwanda

The Republic of Rwanda is located in East-Central Africa, with Kigali as its capital. The country is home to a population of endangered species, as well as breathtaking nature. Surrounded by lush scenery, it earned the moniker “Land of a Thousand Hills.” Rwanda also has access to Lake Kivu, one of the “Great Lakes of Africa.” Truly a majestic country to see, and almost all of it is accessible by driving.

Don’t forget to always bring your International Driver’s License wherever you drive. You can use your international driver’s license as a Rwandan ID. The fastest way is to get an International Driving Permit online. You could get a digital copy in minutes. Provide your address to get the physical copy of your international driver’s license for Rwanda. A zip code will ensure faster delivery.

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is without a doubt the most popular tourist spot in all of Rwanda. With the jungle all around you, and the chance to see the amazing mountain gorillas, it’s truly a memorable experience. The park has many activities you can partake in, as well as other locations to visit. Of all the nature preservation parks in Rwanda, perhaps this one is the most photo-friendly. Taking photos of the gorillas and locations is encouraged, as long as you keep the rules in mind.

The best part is that all funds gathered from tourists fuel the conservation effort in keeping these majestic gorillas safe. Once plagued with poachers and hunters, the government has done a great job in making sure the park is a haven for the gorillas, as well as other rare primates. Some poachers have even hung up their hunting gear and now serve as guides in the park to protect the animals. Coming face to face with these gentle giants is a humbling experience.

Driving Directions:

  • Head west toward KN 5 Rd for 0.2 km
  • Continue straight onto KN 5 Rd for 0.5 km.
  • Turn left to stay on KN 5 Rd for 4.2 km.
  • At the 1st roundabout, take the 1st exit, then go 0.6 km.
  • At the 2nd roundabout, take the 1st exit onto KG 7 Ave/RN3 for 2.2 km.
  • At the 3rd and last roundabout, take the 1st exit onto KN 8 Ave/RN3.
  • Continue to follow RN3 for 4.9 km.
  • Continue onto KN 1 Rd/RN1 Continue to follow RN1 for 2.7 km.
  • Turn right toward 3/RN4, then go 76 m
  • Turn right onto 3/RN4. Continue to follow RN4 for 88.1 km.
  • Turn right onto RN8, drive 0.7 km.
  • Turn left, then drive 1.2 km.
  • Slight left, then another 3.5 km
  • Slight right, then go 7.6km, and Volcanoes National Park will be on the left.

The best time to go to Volcanoes National Park is during Rwanda’s dry seasons. The dry seasons in Rwanda are from June to September and again between December to February. The weather is cooler in the mountains during these times, and it won’t be too tiring to do a gorilla trek or hiking to other spots in the park. March to May are the absolute worst months to visit the park. These are the Rwandan rainy months and would make trekking and hiking extremely difficult.

The second favorite activity in Volcanoes National Park is to visit the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, where you can learn about Rwanda’s history, as well enjoy a show of traditional Rwandan dances and songs. There is also the hike up to the crater of Mt.Bisoke, a 4-hour hike immersed in nature. On your way to the gorilla trek, you can opt to visit the grave memorial of acclaimed zoologist Dr. Dian Fossey, whose work paved the way for the conservation of mountain gorillas.

Lake Kivu

Most of the quality hotels in Rwanda can be found by Lake Kivu. Most of them give you an excellent view of the tranquil waters. You can enjoy a peaceful afternoon under one of the many straw umbrellas around the beach while enjoying food and drinks. Or take part in a variety of water-based activities such as windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, or even take a boat tour.

Boat tours in Lake Kivu involve taking you around to various islands in the lake. Each one has something unique to offer, like an island dedicated to farming coffee and macadamia nuts. Or one island that offers the best swimming spot in the lake. Onshore, there are a variety of hot springs to choose from, giving you the chance to unwind after driving all day. Book a massage at these hot springs and let your aches melt away.

Driving around Lake Kivu is a pleasant experience, and many like to take to the road in search of spots to have picnics. But do be careful; Rwanda is not the only country connected to Lake Kivu. If you drive too far with your International Driving Permit, zip codes could be the least of your worries! Make sure to have a map app that will update your location on the map, and make sure you are still in Rwanda. You can obtain international driving permits online so you don't have to go to a traffic department headquarters. The maximum processing time in IDA is 2 hours, and you can get your digital IDP in 20 minutes.

Driving Directions:

  • Head west toward KN 5 Rd for 0.2 km
  • Continue straight onto KN 5 Rd for 0.5 km.
  • Turn left to stay on KN 5 Rd for 4.2 km.
  • At the 1st roundabout, take the 1st exit, then go on for 0.6km.
  • At the 2nd roundabout, take the 1st exit onto KG 7 Ave/RN3 and go 2.2 km.
  • At the 3rd roundabout, take the 1st exit onto KN 8 Ave/RN3 and Continue to follow RN3 for 4.9 km.
  • Continue onto KN 1 Rd/RN1 and Continue to follow RN1 for 2.7 km.
  • Turn right toward 3/RN4 and go 76 m
  • Turn right onto 3/RN4 and stay on for 148 km.
  • Turn left onto Ave de Independence/Ruhengeri-Gisenyi Rd.
  • Welcome to Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is such a large body of water that it passes through Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. So it’s not uncommon to meet tourists from Congo or other territories. The best months to visit Lake Kivu is during the dry months of June and July, where the day is a bit cooler and the nights are more temperate. Driving around with your International Driving Permit in the region is the easiest during these months, as you don’t have to worry about slippery roads and floods.

Most Important Rules of Driving in Rwanda

Road safety is a priority in the country, and you will find multiple police stops and traffic police with speed sensors. If the police flag you down, the first thing is to show them your International Driving Permit for Rwanda. Today, the police are used to tourists having an IDP and will expect you to always have it on you. If you don’t have an international driver’s license for Rwanda, the website for the International Drivers Association offers quick processing of international driving permits. The maximum processing time is 2 hours.

Rwanda drives on the right. Police emphasize safe maneuvering, so make sure everything is clear before you attempt to overtake a car or merge into a roundabout. If you are planning to cross the border with your International Driving Permit for Rwanda, address the fact that some of the neighboring countries drive on the left side, prepare yourself for the shift.

The importance of your International Driver’s Permit

Even if you aren’t driving, your IDP is very important when interacting with services in Rwanda. The police will honor your international driver’s license as verification that you are a foreign driver. Never drive without both your native driver’s license and your International Driver’s Permit. Not having one of these two is considered driving without a driver’s license in Rwanda, which could cost you a citation and fine.

You can easily acquire an IDP by going to the International Drivers Association’s application page. The international driver’s license for Rwanda’s requirements is to fill out some forms, upload photos of your documents, and get approval for an International Driver’s Permit in minutes. You can even have your digital version of your international driver’s license for Rwanda via download.

Drunk Driving is not allowed

In Rwanda, drunk drivers are viewed very poorly. A blood alcohol level of 0.8 or higher is enough to get you thrown in jail for 24 hours, on top of an RWF150,000 ($150) fine. Even if you were just drinking a few bottles, if people around you knew you are going to drive, you will be viewed negatively. Even driving with a blood alcohol level lower than 0.8 is frowned upon. If you have to drink, make sure you have a designated driver with an International Driver’s Permit.

The police conduct random alcohol checkpoints. Here they will have you take a random sobriety test and check if you are within the permitted blood alcohol level. Refusing to take the test will result in a fine of RWF 150,000 ($150), which is the same fine for drunk driving. If you possess a Rwandan driver’s license, drunk driving is grounds for your license to be invalidated.

Observe the speed limit

Kigali has a lower speed limit than most other cities due to its history with vehicular accidents in the past. These limits are taken seriously, and violating them could cost you RWF50,000 ($50). It’s important to note that some speed limit signs in Kigali are not set permanently. A road’s speed limit could change depending on the time of day, and police officers will change the signs to reflect these. This is done to mitigate traffic jams, as well as for pedestrian safety.

Some people like to play with the speed limit, thinking a $50 fee is manageable. However, in Rwanda, police have the right to raise your fine based on the number of multiple infractions. If you were speeding and not everyone in the vehicle had seat belts, they can raise the fine. The more infractions you have, the more they can raise the fine to nine times the regular amount per infraction. There have been cases of fines as high as $500.

Always keep right

Due to the small size of the country, as well as its capital, the majority of the roads in Rwanda are two lanes in each direction. Drivers are encouraged to stay on the rightmost lane, leaving the left lane for overtaking only. This is to ensure that drivers don’t block each other or get overly aggressive when trying to overtake. It also makes exiting the multiple roundabouts in the city easier.

Always carry your papers

Drivers should always carry all documents on driving. These include your native driver’s license, your insurance papers, car rental agreement, and your international driver’s license. Officers are very strict on this, the police will ask for your international driver’s license as verification of your identity.

If you have lost your international driver’s license in Rwanda, the website for the International Drivers Association is easy to access, and you can get a replacement sent to you immediately. If you are already in the country and re-applying for an international driver’s license for Rwanda, update your shipping information for faster delivery. This is important, as you will need your International Driver’s Permit for Rwanda a number of times in your trip.

Driving beyond your International Driver’s Permit

When you sign up for an IDP, you can choose the validity period that you like. You can even get your international driver’s license an extension on its validity. However, in Rwanda, the IDP is honored only for one year from your arrival. If you are staying for longer than a year, it’s not enough to have an international driver’s license in Rwanda. Rwandan driver’s licenses are easy to apply for if you are an experienced driver.

You can register for the necessary exams through www.irembo.gov.rw or let them know about the expiry of your international driver’s license at contact number *909# and follow the automated process. To get a Rwandan license, you can write a letter to get one in exchange for your international driver’s license for Rwanda. Address the letter to the Commissioner of Road Safety and Traffic, as well as include your other documents like your visa.

When it’s time to replace your International Driver’s Permit for Rwanda, the contact numbers below may prove helpful.

Republic of Rwanda - Rwanda National Police

Address: P. O. Box 6304 KIGALI - RWANDA

Phone Number: +250 788311155

Customer care Desk

Phone Number: +250788311533

Motor vehicle inspection services

Phone Number: +250788311734

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