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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 1 Feb 2010
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Getting a bike drivers licence in Southern Africa on Tourist Visa

We are travelling on one motorbike through Africa, presently in Malawi. The plan is to travel up on the Westcoast on two bikes. But for that, I would need to make also a drivers licence for motorbikes - presently I have one for driving cars and small trucks, issued in Germany.

The questions are now:
- Is there a way to make a drivers licence in Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa or Namibia on a tourist visa?
- What are the requirements to pass the motorcycle licence to drive a 650cc?
- How much time is needed, to go through the process?
- What are the steps to get there? - Where do I have to start?

We are presently in Blantyre - and will next go to Mozambique - any help is highly apprechiated...

My details are: Nina - German nationality
Car driving licence since: 1998 - Germany

Thank you for all help

Willkommen auf Ninas und Toms Reiseseite
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Old 2 Feb 2010
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I believe you can do this in South Africa:

Firstly, you need a "Traffic number" which is something any foreigner gets when wanting to buy a vehicle or get a license in South Africa. You get this from any traffic office. I assume you will enter South Africa at Nelspruit (Komatie Poort) and that would be a good place to start.

Once you have this number (I believe you can get this on the same day) you have to make an apointment to write a learner's driver exam and have an eye test done. This is going to be the hard part. The best is to ask someone to write you letter stating that you need this licence urgently to enable you to do some work for them. Take that letter to a driving school and ask their advice. You can often get an apointment in the same week for this.

With a learners licence you will be allowed to ride a bike legally with some restrictions.

Getting an apointment to take the drivers licence test will be the next hard part. Again, the smaller the town, and the friendlier the driving/riding school, the easiert his will be.

So my advice: Get to Nelspruit and ask at back packers for some direction. Perhaps spend a week in Kruger National park while waiting for apointments etc. Once you have your learner's permid, you can carry on touring, but you'll have to stop for another week or 2 somewhere to have time to do the Licence test.
Dawie du Plessis
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Old 2 Feb 2010
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I think you can get away without driver license at all. In South Africa, for instance, I produced my Spanish ID and they didnĀ“t notice It was not a driver license.

Read this post of one of my blogs. I crossed Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Acerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, both Cyprus, Greece and Italy with a fake driver license. It was written by biro and it worked even in the Israeli customs.

Marenostrum Trip: Riding the world without driver license
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Old 3 Feb 2010
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I think it's irresponsible to advocate riding without a license or with a fake one. If you are in an accident and you do not have a valid drivers license, the accident automatically becomes 100% your fault.

No imagine get hit by a Ferrari F50 in Cape Town. Not your fault, but if you did not have a license, you will be liable for damages.

Dawie du Plessis
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Old 3 Feb 2010
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I agree. It is irresponsible. So what?
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Old 12 Feb 2010
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well , I rode all the way Spain to Capetown and then again from Spain to Luanda on a bike and never -ever- was asked for a driving license . That was on a XL600 and DR650 .

I got the impression that motorcycles don't require driving licenses in the West coast . I was never even asked for the insurance -indeed I could not even buy insurance for a bike.

-of course , no mention of carnet - . I travelled all the way south by showing the passavant thing (I mean a single one -issued in Chad - ) , getting stamped In/Out in every country .-I mean the same piece of paper for every country - issued in Chad (???) , as If It were a carnet- until I physically run out of space for more stamps in which a white piece of A4 paper was added ,
and then they kept stamping it happily.

Of course SouthAfrica is different.There I was asked for license -upon entry- and as the previous poster I produced my Spanish ID card (which looks exactly the same as the driving license ) . Indeed not sure if they are not the same at all , as the licensing status is kept on the police's side computers, not in the card itself , so no trivial way to check it.
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Old 12 Feb 2010
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Hello there,

I'm South African, but haven't lived there for the past 16 years. If I were you, (knowing South Africa), If you made a small effort:
If you had an international driving license that was up to date, which can be issued by the AA. You might be able to get away without having a bike license. You might even be able to get the bike license mentioned just for the time you're there, (visas will prove this) on your AA international drivers license, having a truck license and all, it's worth a shot.

If you've got personal insurance for your being, that too should help you out of a sticky situation.

I understand for some, Africa is one big open land and you can just ride until the sun goes down. I've done the west coast many a time, and even though the people can be and are, very friendly, if they've got a road block going, which can be quite regular, you'll have to go through it.

Just my thoughts, as they say, better to be safe than sorry.
Good luck.
but you'll have a ball.
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Old 12 Feb 2010
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I wouldn't rely on my foreign id-card, even if you managed to link the police... Not all of them are as dense as that. I got stopped several times during my visits for different reasons - road blocks, overtaking where I shouldn't etc. Every time the police insisted on seeing both documents: my local (german) licence plus the international drivers license.

Besides that, like Freeflyd I consider fake documents irresponsible as well. In the case of an accident things may well turn out horrible for you...
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
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