Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Curacao?
Curacao is a great place for a holiday and a great place to drive. It's links to Holland mean that the island's infrastructure is well funded and driving there is pleasurable - until it rains when you can encounter landslides and impassable roads.
Apart from that, you should have a trouble free time on your Curacao holiday!
Seat Belt Laws
All occupants of a moving car must wear a seat belt whilst driving in Curacao.
Drinking and Driving
In Curacao, there is no specified drink driving alcohol limit, instead the law says it’s illegal to drive whilst drunk. This would usually translate for most people having no more than one drink before getting behind the wheel. With the law being so vague, our recommendation is not to have any alcohol if you intend to drive, especially given the vagaries of driving on the island.
Must Have Documents
You will need to carry your driving licence – an international driving licence is required, your registration document or car hire contract and proof of insurance.
The speed limits for Curacao are as follows:
Open roads: 80 km/h
In Town: variable up to 50 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Curacao although many young drivers ignore this rule. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 21 but if you are under 25 you will have to pay an excess for your inexperience with some companies.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
It’s not illegal to use safety cameras in Curacao but the roads on the whole aren’t conducive to excess speed so we recommend that you don’t bother with them and instead, stick to the speed limit.
On the Spot Fines
If a traffic police officer stops you for a motoring offence, you must be given a violation notice which indicates the offence and the penalty it incurs – usually a fine. You will have up to 21 days to pay the fine at any police station.
Child Safety Rules
Children under the age of five may not travel in the front of a car and must be secured with an appropriate seating system in the rear of the car. If you don’t want to bring your own child seat with you, advise us of your requirement when you book and we’ll fit the appropriate seat ready for your arrival.
You’ll find that a minimum of third party insurance is obligatory in Curacao and you must be able to prove it with a valid certificate.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• In Curacao, cars travel on the right hand side of the road
• Many roads are narrow and winding so take care, especially at night
• You cannot turn right on a red traffic light
• Use your horn only in emergency situations to warn others of your presence
If you need to tow anything in Curacao, all you need to do is to ensure you’re securely attached and you can see around the vehicle clearly.
Fixed speed cameras have yet to arrive on Curacao but instead the police operate regular mobile speed traps on roads where speeding is common. Offenders will be issued with a penalty notice.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
You must use a hands-free kit if wanting to make or answer a phone call whilst driving in Curacao
You won’t find parking too much of a problem in the smaller towns or near the beaches but in the capital Willemstad, it’s a different matter. Tourists and locals combine to clog the streets and parking can be a nightmare. In such circumstances it’s best to park a little further away from the attractions and walk through the pretty streets.
It’s generally only in Willemstad or near tourist attractions that you’ll have to pay parking charges. Some of them can seem excessive but that’s because there’s often no other choice.
Enforcement of parking rules can mean a penalty ticket in paid parking areas, usually issued privately or being towed if causing an obstruction. You’ll have to pay a charge to release your car from the car pound in those circumstances.
Provision of accessible parking for disabled drivers is more common in the capital but if you need it elsewhere you’ll find people willing to help you find accessible parking.
Motor Way Signs
You won’t find any motorways on Curacao as the island is small.
Whilst Curacao is officially Dutch, English is one of the official languages so you should encounter no difficulties with being understood.
Like its neighbour Aruba, Curacao traffic lights don’t have an amber signal when changing from red to green. If you’re unused to it, it can come as a surprise.
There are no toll roads on Curacao.
All the emergency services can be contacted on 911
What to do in an emergency
Mechanical problems with a hire car are easily resolved by contacting the local agent using the phone number on your documentation or on a sticker inside the car. If you are driving a private car you’ll need to contact a local mechanic as there are no official breakdown services on the island.
Only if there is major damage or injury in a collision do you need to contact the emergency services. In all other cases you can simply negotiate fault and exchange insurance details on the spot. If the emergency services do attend, you’ll be given a report for the insurance or hire car company. It’s worth taking photographs of the scene and witness details whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive.
As of December 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Curacao is 96p whilst diesel is 88p. Prices can vary between the coast and inland.