Jamaica Driving Guide

Jamaica Driving Guide

Explore Jamaica by driving when you get International Permit

2023-12-31 · 9min read

Ever fantasized about driving along Jamaica's picturesque coastlines and lush landscapes at your leisure? Jamaica's unique allure is best discovered off the beaten path, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture and breathtaking nature.

Imagine exploring the unspoiled forests, exploring quaint coastal towns, and discovering secluded beaches, all at your own pace.

If you're an international visitor, navigating Jamaica's roads may be a whole new experience. But don't worry; we are here to guide you.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about driving in Jamaica, instilling you with confidence for your tropical road trip.

Let's take a closer look at Jamaica

General Information

Jamaica, a vibrant Caribbean island renowned for its sandy beaches, year-round tropical climate, and breathtaking natural attractions, is truly a mixture of diverse nature and rich culture. An ideal way to fully experience this Caribbean gem's beauty is by embarking on a road trip. For this adventure, obtaining an International Drivers Permit is essential.

In Jamaica, a rental car is the most efficient mode of transportation. It offers the flexibility to control your own schedule, eliminating the inconveniences of public transport. Remember, acquiring an International Drivers Permit is critical for driving around Jamaica.

Languages Spoken

The majority of Jamaicans speak English, even having it as the country’s official language. Creole, another dialect, that draws influence from Spanish and French languages, is commonly spoken in Jamaica. Since English is a primary language, Jamaica’s vocabulary and grammar structure are based largely on the language.

International Driving Permit FAQs

Do I need an International Driving Permit in Jamaica?

Yes, acquiring an International Drivers Permit in Jamaica and your valid driver’s license is recommended. It functions as a translation of your license and is typically necessary for car rentals.

What if you get involved in an accident?

Should you find yourself in a road accident, do not panic. Remain in your car and call the emergency hotlines or ask for assistance. Police officers are responsible for filing an accident report, which your car insurance company will receive.

In case of accidents, call 119 for the police department and 110 for the fire department. Car insurance covers you in times of accident and helps lower your costs.

Can you park anywhere in Jamaica?

When parking, know that most spots are unregulated, and you can basically park anywhere. Ideally, park in well-lit areas close to your destination so you can better spot your vehicle. Some areas in the city have paid parking options for better security, especially at night.

What is the road situation in Jamaica?

Jamaica's rainy season brings abrupt rainfalls and flash floods, requiring extra caution. Here are some safety tips:

  • Check tire conditions for proper grip and moisture dispersion.
  • Ensure windshield wipers work smoothly to maintain visibility.
  • Use headlights during heavy rain for improved visibility.
  • Avoid speeding since slippery roads can lead to loss of vehicle control.

Does Jamaica use Mph or Kph?

This country uses Kph, so take note of this if you are a tourist from the U.S. or Canada. Rental cars have a clear indication of the primary speed unit, it being the more emphasized or the bigger number. Digital speedometers are a lot easier to read.

Is it safe to drive at night?

As tourists, stay responsible and alert when driving at night. Most roads are poorly lit with inadequate signage and potholes, so if you’re risking a nighttime road trip, make sure your car is in good condition before heading out.

Make sure tires, brakes, and headlights are all working well. You'll also find a lot of warnings when driving at night.

Renting a Car in Jamaica

The best way to get around Jamaica and experience its beautiful scenery is by way of driving. There is nothing better than a road trip with the lush Caribbean horizon in full view.

Before you get all worked up over the idea of a road trip, you first have to know the basics about renting a car in Jamaica. Here is some useful information on car rentals in Jamaica.

Car Rental Companies

Exploring Jamaica is made easy with the convenience and flexibility of renting a car. You can rent a car from major international companies either online or in person. These rental companies are often located near airports or in the capital city. Here are some of the best car rental in Jamaica options available:

  • Island Car Rentals- Norman Manley International Airport - Kingston, Jamaica
  • National Car Rentals - Kingston, Jamaica
  • Apex Car Rentals - Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Avis Rent A Car - Kingston, Jamaica
  • Hummingbird Tours and Car Rental Services - Spanish Town, Jamaica

Documents Required

Renting a car in Jamaica is quite easy since most can be done online. It can also be found at major tourist spots and in airports. Requirements for renting a car include:

  • Must be 25 years of age
  • Has a valid license from the native country (at least a year)
  • Pay with a credit card
  • Rented within 24 hours
  • Must come with coverage charge against theft

Vehicle Types

Car rentals in Jamaica offer a range of options, including vans, SUVs, buses, and cars. For car rental, the driver's age must be 21-75. For larger vehicles like buses, vans, and luxury SUVs, the age requirement is 25-75.

You can choose from various brands such as Honda, Toyota, or Mazda based on your preference. Remember, agencies usually have a no-smoking policy in their vehicles and small cars are recommended for short distances.

Car Rental Cost

Car rental fees in Jamaica depend on a lot of factors, such as the type of vehicle, seating capacity, and the payment method of the agency. The most common prices of cars and their models are as follows:

  • Economy-$25/day
  • Compact-$26/day
  • Economy-$25/day
  • Compact-$26/ day
  • Intermediate-$30/day
  • Full size-$45/day
  • SUV- $50/ day

Jamaica Car's rentals come with unlimited mileage, automatic air-conditioning, and a theft waiver. Note that these are only rental fees; insurance may not be included unless stated. Additional fees may apply for extra services.

Age Requirements

To be able to drive in Jamaica, you must abide by the country's rules and regulations for who is allowed to drive. Consider the following requirements:

  • A passport may not be required of you. However, you must always bring a copy of it.
  • A domestic driver's license valid for at least a year or two and an International Driver's Permit
  • 18 is the minimum age for driving, but renting a car would require you to be 21 years old
  • Extra charges would apply to those under the age of 25 who are seeking to rent a car

Car Insurance Cost

Not all car rental companies in Jamaica offer insurance, so it's important to consider the best car insurance options available. Here are some insurance options to consider:

  • Loss/Collision Damage Waiver: This type of insurance covers accidents, theft, vandalism, or loss of use. The deductible amount will vary depending on the rental car company.
  • Liability Insurance: This insurance covers any damage caused to other rental vehicles in an accident that is caused by you, the renter. It may also cover medical expenses. The cost of liability insurance typically ranges from USD 7-15.
  • Personal Effects Coverage: This coverage is available at a low cost of around USD 1-5. It protects your belongings from damage or theft while in the rental car.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: This insurance covers medical costs for you and your passengers in the event of an accident. The cost for personal accident insurance usually ranges from USD 1-7.

Remember to carefully consider your insurance needs and choose the best car insurance in Jamaica that suits your budget and requirements.

Road Rules in Jamaica

Driving can become even more smooth sailing if you know their rules beforehand. Knowing the road rules is helpful, especially in the main cities of Kingston. You can also opt to use Google Maps, as it will make your trip easier.

Here are more tips to help make your Jamaican road trip fun and safe.

General Standards

Driving in Jamaica comes with some general standards to ensure both your safety and an enjoyable Jamaican experience. These guidelines are vital to make your journey smooth and trouble-free:

  • Preference for automatic cars in Jamaica.
  • Ensure your car is in optimal condition. Check the tires for any potential obstructions.
  • Cellphone usage while driving is prohibited.
  • Before starting, always fasten your seatbelt and adjust your mirrors.
  • Ensure all passengers are secured with seatbelts.
  • Stay focused on the road, and avoid distractions.
  • Pay attention to all traffic signs and speed limits.
  • When parking, choose well-lit areas, lock the doors, and don't leave valuables inside the car.
  • Always turn off the engine and secure your car keys with you for safety.

Speed Limits

In urban areas such as Kingston, where there are many people and establishments, the speed limit is 50 kph. This limit allows drivers to navigate safely amongst traffic and pedestrians, also giving them the chance to appreciate the local culture.

For those planning to explore rural areas or back-country roads, the speed limit rises to 80 kph, due to fewer people and infrastructure. Even with this increased limit, it's crucial not to exceed it to ensure that safety remains the top priority regardless of the location.

Traffic Road Signs

If you are unfamiliar with driving in foreign countries, it would be advisable to inform yourself about this first before driving, as road signs are important so you don’t get lost or get into trouble with the law. However, there are very few traffic lights in places like Montego Bay and Ochos Rio, and their major roads tend to get crowded.

The legal driving age in Jamaica varies depending on the vehicle. The youngest permissible age to drive is 17, but the minimum age to rent is 21. For rented cars, car drivers must be 21-75 years old, while for buses, vans, and luxury SUVs, the age for driving them must be 25-75.

Laws on Overtaking

Jamaica has some rules regarding overtaking to make it safe for motorists. Overtaking must only be done on the right, and it isn’t allowed at pedestrian crossings and railways, at road junctions, curves, and bends.

Do not overtake where there is a single or double white line on the road, and when someone is about to overtake you, move to the left and do not increase your speed.

Driving Side

Like most countries in the world, Jamaica drives on the left side of the road, which means that their steering wheel is on the right side making it easier for visitors from places such as the UK to drive. This can pose a challenge to those from countries like the United States who drive on the right side.

The Driving Etiquette in Jamaica

Maintaining good driving etiquette is important worldwide to avoid road mishaps. In Jamaica, driving customs can be unique, making it crucial to grasp local rules for a seamless journey. Here are essential tips for navigating Jamaican roads:

Car Breakdown

Car breakdowns are unexpected and unfortunate but are a reality. Should this happen to you, stay calm, don’t panic, and keep these things in mind:

  • Do not get out of the vehicle or attempt to fix the situation on your own.
  • Get the vehicle to a safe location, such as the side of the road, before getting out of your car.
  • Have marker triangles ready to mark your location. These triangles will also serve as an indication of an emergency.
  • Turn on your hazard lights.
  • Call for assistance should you need any.

Police Stops

If you get stopped by a police officer, be it for a misunderstanding or a traffic violation, remember to cooperate with the authorities. Here’s what to do when you get pulled over while driving:

  • Pull over to the side of the road and turn your hazard lights on.
  • If asked for certain documents like a native driver’s license or an IDP, always have them ready to present.
  • Cooperate with the officer’s instructions if they decide to take it to the police station.


Checkpoints usually involve random checking for drugs, drunk driving, or verifying the documents of passers-by.

Then you ask yourself: "Why do I need an IDP?" Usually, at checkpoints, officers would ask the Jamaican drivers for identification so it is best to have your driver’s license and your International Driver’s Permit ready just in case, along with other documents like a passport and car insurance.

Driving Conditions in Jamaica

Driving conditions in Jamaica are unique, with the wheel on the right and driving on the left, which may be new to some travelers. Ensure your rental car is in top condition, as roadside assistance may be challenging to find.

Nighttime driving, especially outside of Kingston and tourist areas, is discouraged due to high crime rates. Also, weather can be unpredictable, with sudden rainfall and potential flash floods. Despite these factors, with adequate preparation, driving in Jamaica can be a memorable part of your trip.

The best time to visit Jamaica is from December to April for drier weather. Avoid nighttime driving outside of Kingston and tourist areas due to safety concerns. Jamaica's beauty can be enjoyed year-round despite occasional rainfall.

Accidents Statistics

Road accidents are commonplace in Jamaica. International campaigns like the "World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims" highlight the urgency of improving road conditions to reduce accidents.

The National Road Safety Council's 2019 goal to decrease road fatalities to below 300 was not met, underscoring the need for tourists to educate themselves thoroughly about road conditions and driving etiquette in the country for a safe journey.

Toll Roads in Jamaica

Jamaica has toll roads with variable rates based on destination and vehicle class. Drivers receive a card at toll plazas to pay at collector points. Prices range from 70-700 Jamaican dollars.

Vehicle classes are divided into Class 1 (vehicles less than 5.6 feet), Class 2 (vehicles at 5.6 feet), and Class 3 (those above 5.6 feet).

These are the prices of vehicles depending on the area of the toll road:

  • Spanish Town Tolls: (Class 1: $170. Class 2: $380. Class 3: $370)
  • May Pen Tolls: (Class 1: $120. Class 2: $200. Class 3: $1,320)
  • Portmore Tolls: (Class 1: $240. Class 2: $380 Class 3: $730)
  • Vineyard Tolls: (Class 1: $480. Class 2: $700. Class 3: $1320

Top Destinations in Jamaica

Jamaica is a fantastic destination, known for its stunning beaches and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you're looking for relaxation or adventure, there are plenty of best places to visit in Jamaica that will leave you in awe.

This is why driving through its scenic landscapes is recommended by locals and tourists alike. If you want to try this unmatched experience, see our International Driving License pricing to choose the best package that suits your travel needs.

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains, Jamaica's most mountainous range, peaks at 7402 feet and hosts heritage sites, luxury resorts, and a vibrant local life. Located on the Eastern side, this place is never short of activities.

Montego Bay

Known as "MoBay," Montego Bay is a vibrant city with luxury retreats, golf courses, and beautiful coastlines. It's also home to the unique bright lagoon of Falmouth and the vintage, supposedly haunted, Rose Hall Great House.

Dunn’s River Falls

Located in Ochos Rios, Dunn’s River Falls is a self-generating 600-foot waterfall offering hiking, picnics, and a breathtaking view.


Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, provides an urban escape with its local art, architecture, shopping, dining, and vibrant nightlife.

In Jamaica, there are limitless best things to do. Relax on breathtaking beaches, explore stunning natural landscapes, savor mouthwatering cuisine, soak in reggae music, and delve into the vibrant culture. It's a destination that caters to all interests and provides unforgettable experiences for everyone.

Maximize Your Jamaican Journey with an IDP

Ready to embark on your Jamaican driving adventure? Equip yourself with an International Driver's Permit from the International Driver's Association. It's your ticket to a seamless and confident driving experience on this island paradise.

Don't delay; begin your application today! Get your International Driving Permit here.

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