Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Zimbabwe?
Driving in Zimbabwe can be very rewarding but it can also be dangerous. Things have calmed down of late but it's still worth checking FCO advice for the latest information.
The most important sights are the Victoria Falls but the safari attractions of Zimbabwe's tourist industry have been decimated by poachers.
Four wheel drive vehicles are essential out of the towns and make sure you carry plenty of fuel, water and a means of communication.
Seat Belt Laws
Only the front seat occupants of a car need wear a seat belt but we recommend that everyone wears one where fitted. In hire cars, all occupants must wear a seat belt.
Drinking and Driving
The drink driving laws in Zimbabwe are the same as in the UK. You must have no more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Drink driving is a big problem in Zimbabwe and as such the police are tough on stopping it. For that reason we recommend you don’t drink and drive.
Must Have Documents
You must carry your driving licence – an international driving licence is required in many cases but not if you’re a UK driver intending to stay for less than 90 days, your proof of insurance to the minimum third party level and your registration documents. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your passport.
The speed limits for Zimbabwe are as follows:
Open roads: 120 km/h
In Town: 60km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You only have to be 16 to drive in Zimbabwe but for hiring a car you’ll need to be a minimum of 21 in some cases and 23 in most. Under 25 years old you’ll have to pay a young drivers’ excess.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Speed trap detectors are not illegal in Zimbabwe but we always recommend that you stick to the speed limit rather than try to beat the system. It’s safer for you and for other road users.
On the Spot Fines
There is a high level of corruption in Zimbabwe and it extends into the police force. If you are stopped, you are likely to be asked for the ‘fine’ for your infringement in cash. If you can refuse safely you should do so as paying simply perpetuates the problem. In many cases it is better to pay and depart quickly.
Child Safety Rules
In Zimbabwe there are no specific laws for child safety in cars; the onus is on the parents. If you are travelling with children, ask when you book your hire car and we’ll ensure that your car is fitted with the appropriate seats.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Zimbabwe and you must carry proof of it by way of a valid insurance certificate.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• You must carry two warning triangles, a fire extinguisher, and have two white reflectors on the bumper at the front of your vehicle and two red ones on the rear
• Zimbabwe drives on the left
• You must give way to pedestrians at traffic lights, even when they are green
If you are towing a vehicle in Zimbabwe you must display a white T sign on the right hand side of the towed item’s front and a red T sign on the right hand side of its rear.
Speed traps using hand held cameras are commonplace and will result in a ticket being issued for a fine. There are no fixed speed cameras in Zimbabwe at the time of writing.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
In Zimbabwe it’s illegal to talk or text on a mobile phone whilst driving unless you have a hands free kit.
It’s often safest to park in a commercial or hotel parking where it’s usually free. Roadside parking is plentiful and free but you risk theft from your vehicle or yourself when you park or leave.
Always use attending parking where possible, it may cost a little more but in the long run it will be safer.
Very little enforcement of parking is carried out in Zimbabwe as most parking is free. The only time you’ll encounter a problem is if you cause an obstruction.
Zimbabwe has more than its fair share of disabled drivers but gives few, if any, concessions. As a disabled driver you can expect only localised help when you park but this is usually forthcoming.
Motor Way Signs
There are motorways in Zimbabwe and they are subject to tolls. Motorway signs are green with white writing.
English is the national language of Zimbabwe so you'll have no trouble being understood.
In Zimbabwe traffic lights follow the same sequencing that they do in most of the world. You should be aware that many carjacking incidents take place on red lights at night so the recommended procedure is to approach a red light carefully and, if the junction is clear, proceed across it carefully.
The motorways are subject to tolls in Zimbabwe as are the border crossings into South Africa. Tolls are low, typically $1 to $5.
The emergency number in Zimbabwe is the UK standard 999 for all emergency services but you can also use 993 for the ambulance, 994 for the fire department and 995 for the police.
What to do in an emergency
If you have a mechanical problem with your hire car, contact the emergency number given to you by the local car hire agent. If driving your own car make sure you have an emergency number with you before you set off.
If you are involved in an accident you needn’t call the police if there is only minor damage and no injuries. If you do need to call the police you should avoid moving the vehicles where possible and take a photograph of the scene. Collect witness details and make sure you get a copy of the police report for your insurers or the car hire company.
As of October 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Zimbabwe is 94p whilst diesel is 79p. Prices can vary between cities and smaller towns and villages.