Driving in Ethiopia
We encourage everyone with a driving licence in their home country to drive here in Addis. It allows for time away from compound, easy grocery shopping and church trips and means that you can live more independently in the city. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have about driving licence paper work or procedures.
Will I be able to drive in Ethiopia?
The short answer is, "probably" but please read the rest of this page carefully!
If you have a valid driver's licence from your home country, you will usually be able to apply for an Ethiopian driver's licence. Most countries have a reciprocal arrangement whereby they will accept one another's licences. The exceptions that we currently know exist to this are Republic of Ireland and New Zealand. We are currently unable to secure Ethiopian driver's licences for people from these countries - please do not go through the process of procuring and authenticating your driving record if you are from Republic of Ireland or New Zealand because you won’t need them. You will be able to drive in Ethiopia, but the process will be slightly different. When you feel ready, our staff will work with you to go through the Ethiopian drivers training course and this will allow you to secure a licence.
Requirements for securing an Ethiopian Driver's Licence
In order for your home licence to be valid evidence to receive an Ethiopian driving licence you need to do the following things before you leave your home country. (This list does not apply to citizens of the Republic of Ireland or New Zealand - see above.)
Make sure your home licence has at least 2 years validity remaining
Bring your home licence with you - not just your driving record. You cannot receive an Ethiopian licence without presenting your original home licence.
Make sure your home licence contains your photograph - (this is especially important for British people with the old paper-style licence. You must bring a photo-card licence.)
Apply for a copy of your driving record from the authority that issued your licence
Have your driving record authenticated by the relevant national body
Have the authenticated driving record legalised by the Ethiopian Embassy in your country.
It is normal to have the driving record authenticated and then legalised in the same process as your visa and work permit documents. It is really important that you follow these procedures before you leave as they cannot be done remotely once you have arrived in Addis Ababa.
Bingham Academy maintains a fleet of SIM vehicles which are available to staff and spouses to sign out. As part of the Bingham support package, full-time staff receive 200km a month free useage.
Once you have an Ethiopian driver's licence then you are almost ready to go. The next step is to pass the SIM driving test, administered by the Head Mechanic at Bingham Academy. You will not be permitted to drive Bingham vehicles until you pass this test to show that you can manage a vehicle safely in Addis Ababa driving conditions.
All of the school vehicles are manual / standard shift. This seems especially problematic for people used to driving an automatic transmission vehicle. If this is you, please get some serious practice time in before you arrive as it's the number one reason for people failing their SIM driving test. You can always take it again, but for some people it seems to hold them back.
Addis Ababa is a hectic, busy city with taxis, donkeys and pedestrians all vying for right of way. Driving in Addis can be an intense experience. It can initially feel scary, but everything is moving fairly slowly and you will quickly learn to negotiate the traffic.
Navigating can be hard because of a lack of reliable street signage. We would recommend downloading maps.me to your GPS-enabled smartphone before you arrive, making sure you get the Ethiopia map add-on. This will allow you to navigate by GPS through the city, even when the internet is not available.