Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in St Maarten?
Driving on St Maarten is a very rewarding way to spend part of your time there. You will have to put up with a couple of unusual rules though whilst on the road.
You'll often find animals and people walking along the road and here, surprisingly, cows have right of way over cars!
You can cross over to the French side of the island - Saint Martin, but do let your car hire company know of your intentions.
Seat Belt Laws
Everyone in a moving car must wear a seat belt whilst the car is being driven in St Maarten.
Drinking and Driving
In St Maarten, the legal blood alcohol level is 50mg per 100ml of blood. This is lower than in the UK so even one drink can take you over the limit. We always recommend when driving in an unfamiliar country, you should never drink then get behind the wheel.
Must Have Documents
The only compulsory document for drivers to carry is their driving licence which needs to be an international one. It’s recommended that you carry your registration document and a copy of your insurance certificate as well.
The speed limits for St Maarten are as follows:
Open roads: 60 km/h
In Town: 40 km/h
Highway: 80 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive on St Maarten. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 21 and if you’re under 25 years old you’ll invariably have to pay extra for your inexperience. There is a maximum age for hiring a car of 70 years old.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
You are allowed to use speed camera detectors on St Maarten but given the dangerous nature of many roads, we’d recommend sticking to the speed limit anyway.
On the Spot Fines
If the police stop you for a motoring offence you’ll be issued with a penalty notice and fine that must be paid within 21 days at the local police station.
Child Safety Rules
In St Maarten, it’s only children under the age of five who cannot sit in the front of a vehicle. They must be seated in an appropriate restraint system in the rear of the vehicle. If you’re booking a hire car, simply tell us your children’s ages when you book and we’ll ensure the correct seating is fitted.
Third party insurance as a minimum is required in St Maarten and whilst legally you don’t need to carry the certificate with you, it’s always recommended.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• In St Maarten, cars travel on the right hand side of the road
• Cows have right of way
• You can take your car over the border into the French part, St Martin but you need to inform your car hire company that you’re doing so
Towing is unrestricted in St Maarten, it’s up to the driver to ensure that common sense prevails including secure attachment and good visibility.
You won’t find fixed speed cameras on St Maarten yet but from time to time, the police will check on speeding using hand held cameras. If you exceed the speed limit at these checkpoints a fine will be incurred.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
To be able to use your mobile phone whilst driving in St Maarten, you must have a hands-free kit, otherwise you are breaking the law.
Regulation are quite lax on St Maarten and you should never be stuck without a parking space. Just be careful that you don’t block entrances or park outside public buildings.
Paid parking is usually unnecessary on St Maarten as there are usually plenty of places to leave your car without paying. If you visit a local attraction, you’ll sometimes find you’ll need to pay.
It’s only if you park inconsiderately that you’ll encounter parking regulation enforcement. Usually you’ll get a fine but if you are preventing the free movement of traffic you may be towed.
With the availability of plentiful parking, getting a convenient spot for people with poor mobility isn’t usually a problem. If you get stuck, simply ask a local for advice or help.
Motor Way Signs
There are no motorways on St Maarten and the majority of the roads outside of the towns are twisting and slow.
On St Maarten traffic lights follow the European sequencing system and so should be familiar to most drivers.
There are no toll roads on St Maarten.
Although there are other numbers, it’s best to call 911 on St Maarten for all emergencies
What to do in an emergency
Mechanical problems with your hire car can be sorted by contacting the number on the car hire documentation or found inside the windscreen of the car.
Car accidents can be resolved between the parties involved if there is only minor damage and no one is injured. If there is more substantial damage or injuries, you will need to contact the emergency services. When the police attend, they will issue a report on the accident which you’ll need for your car hire company or insurers.
As of January 2015, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in St Maarten is 94p whilst diesel is 88p. Prices can vary across the island.