wikiHow to Obtain a Driver's License in Ethiopia

Are you tired of using taxis or car rentals with a driver to process your new Ethiopia agribusiness investment? Why not have and drive own car? After all, you entered Ethiopia to start and operate your own agribusiness or work for one as expat employee. If you do, and you better should, find this proposition acceptable, all you need is an Ethiopian Driver’s License. To acquire one and start driving, read to follow the steps outlined in this article.


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    Be aware of the licensing requirement to drive in Ethiopia. Know that you cannot rent and drive a car in Ethiopia just because you have a home driver’s license issued in your country and perhaps did so several times in another foreign country. The same holds true even if you are holder of an International Driver’s permit. In other words, you are required to acquire an Ethiopian Driver’s License.
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    Decide how you wish to acquire an Ethiopian driver’s License. If you are already issued a license driving in your country, it will only cost you a paper work to acquire an Ethiopian license in exchange. In this way, you can acquire the license at any time and whether you are granted a work or resident permit as investor or foreign employee of a new or existing establishment. If you would like to take this option, continue reading this article to the end and follow the next steps. If you do not have a home driver’s license and choose to begin from the scratch, then you have to go to a car driving school in Ethiopia and qualify to get the license. That will require taking a medical exam and one written and two practical exams (Auto Driver Club 2014). However, you can do that only after you obtained a residence permit if you wish to acquire permanent/renewable license.
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    Examine your home driver’s license. You need to examine your home driver’s license to make sure it will be valid by the time you travel to Ethiopia and process your application for Ethiopian license. If not, renew your license online or at your local driver’s license office and have the renewed one with you. If you do not have a valid license, you will never be issued an Ethiopian license.
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    Have your home driver’s license translated / notarized. As holder of driver’s license issued in a foreign country, you need to first get your license translated into Amharic or English by the Embassy of your country in Ethiopia. If the license is in English, the Embassy will notarize it. To get this done, locate the Embassy office in Addis Ababa and if possible contact the embassy prior to your visit to check its working hours and requirements. Normally the requirements are:
    • Foreign driving license;
    • Passport
    • Service fee
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    Get your foreign license authenticated. Once your license is notarized or translated, you should get the approval of same by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The requirements are as follows:
    • Foreign driving license;
    • Translation / notarization of the Embassy
    • Service fee
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    Apply for an Ethiopian Driver’s License. Now you can file application with the Ethiopian Road Authority. Locate the authority on Haile Gebreselassie Street in Addis Ababa (around Megenagna area) and fill in the application form. Provide the required documents and pay fees follows:
    • Completed application form for driver’s license
    • Translation / notarization with approval/authentication stamp
    • Passport-size photograph;
    • Photocopy of the foreign driving license;
    • Photocopy of passport;
    • Foreign/original driving license
    • Stamp (to be bought at issuing office)
    • Service fee
    • Stamp fee
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    Relearn to drive in Ethiopia. It won’t harm to learn the standard when driving in Ethiopia. You may practice with the assistance of one knowledgeable and well experienced in driving in Ethiopia.
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    Learn to benefit from the road traffic rules. This will help you a great way as you are now about to start driving in Ethiopia. The general rules include the following:
    • Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.
    • To drive, a person needs to be 18 years old
    • The speed limit for cars and motorcycles in towns and villages is 30-50 km/h and outside towns 100 km/h
    • Drivers are not permitted to use their mobile phones while driving
    • Motorcyclists must wear crash helmets
    • Pedestrians must use zebra crossings to cross a road
    • It is not permitted honking a horn when not necessary
    • Children under 7 years of age are not permitted to be in the front seat
    • Seat belts are compulsory for a driver and front seat passenger
    • It is required to have a first aid kit in each car
    • The third party insurance is mandatory. All vehicles must have a windshield sticker displayed as proof of insurance
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    Be more informed before you drive. In addition to the above rules, the Auto Driver Club outlines important additional information that appears to be useful particularly for a new foreigner driver in Ethiopia like you. Some of these are;
    • Drivers must be spatially careful and honking is often necessary to avoid accidents.
    • Drivers must be very careful when going through town and villages as people tend to cross the roads without looking, and animals may be present in the road.
    • In Ethiopia, riders insurance is not provided; therefore foreigner visitors must have their own medical / emergency insurance.
    • If a driver has an accident, he will have to pay for any damage caused.
    • In Ethiopia, there are different types of off-road pavements. These include good condition off-roads, gravel off-roads, sand off-roads, and off-road with bigger stones.
    • Emergency services are non-existent in many parts of the country so drivers should always carry spare tires, fuel, and tolls on long trips.
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    You are done! Rent or own a car and drive! Now you are a proud holder of an Ethiopian Driver’s License. You can weave through the traffic in Addis and even hit the highway road outside the city should you do so to find land or go to your farm if you have already established one.


  • Have someone to be with you and assist you in processing the license issuance. You may need to find a trusted taxi driver or someone else who knows Amharic and can drive you to the different institutions or fill in forms in Amharic for you.
  • Be patient. As you can see, the whole process will take a few days and the bureaucratic hurdles may at times be exhausting. You are advised to be very patient in order to get the license you desperately need in order to drive in Ethiopia.


  • Always keep your license in your wallet while driving.
  • Do not drive a vehicle not allowed for the Class/Grade of the driver’s license you are issued.
  • Do not violate the road traffic rules and procedures. You will not only be fined upfront while seating in your car but also spend lots of time (even days) to pay the fines and be able to drive again.

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Categories: Africa