Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Madagascar?
Madagascar is a huge country - the fourth largest island in the world so don't underestimate it. The country has a wide variety of terrain, much of which becomes difficult to traverse in the wet season. If you're going to explore, hire a 4 x 4 for your safety.
Seat Belt Laws
By law, everyone in a moving car in Madagascar must be properly secured with a seat belt. It’s one of the things that the police look out for on random stop and check points.
Drinking and Driving
If you are driving in Madagascar you must have no more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in your body. This is the same as in the UK and means that one drink can make you borderline with the legal limit.
Must Have Documents
Whilst legally you only need to have your driving licence with you, if you are stopped at one of the many police check points, you will usually be asked for your passport and often the registration documents of the vehicle you’re driving.
The speed limits for Madagascar are as follows:
Open roads: 80/100 km/h
Many of Madagascar’s roads become difficult in heavy weather and as such, your speed should be dramatically adjusted to the conditions.
In Town: 50 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Madagascar. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 23 and you’ll need to have at least a year’s experience of driving. Under 25 and you’re certain to have to pay a premium for your lack of experience and age.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Using a safety camera warning devices is legal in Madagascar but given the driving conditions, it’s far better to simply stick to the speed limit.
On the Spot Fines
Madagascar had some problems with localised corruption amongst traffic police but of late the problem is getting much better. If you are stopped, you are less likely to be charged with a spurious offence and will be given a ticket detailing the offence and not be asked to pay on the spot. You’ll have fourteen days to pay at a police station, bank or post office.
Child Safety Rules
In Madagascar, there are no specific laws on child car safety equipment so you’ll find that it’s up to you to make sure your children are safe. If you are renting a car from us simply tell us the ages of the children and we’ll make sure that the correct seats are fitted ready for your arrival.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Madagascar and you should ensure you have proof of it with you in the car.
Rules of the Road
Standard International driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• You will drive on the right and must give way to traffic approaching from the left at intersections
• Take special care driving at night as the roads are unlit and many animals and pedestrians walk on them
Towing is not subject to any restrictions but you should make sure the towed vehicle is securely attached and that you have good visibility.
There are no fixed speed cameras in Madagascar but you’ll find that police check points regularly use hand held devices. Road conditions aren’t great for speeding so it’s best just to stay within the law.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
In Madagascar it’s illegal to talk or text on a mobile phone whilst driving unless you have a hands free kit.
You’ll find that out of the main cities, parking is done on an ad hoc basis, just don’t block someone’s driveway. In the big cities, parking is more regulated but mainly into ‘don’t park’ and ‘park where you want’. You will find some parking areas which are attendant controlled as well as some parking garages in Antananarivo.
Paid parking is generally in attendant controlled areas and in the centre of the big urban areas. Elsewhere most people park anywhere and for free.
The police enforce parking violations but you’d have to be unlucky to get ticketed. Usually it’s for obstruction rather than outstaying your welcome.
To get concessions for parking for those with limited movement in Madagascar you would need to find an attended lot. Most find it’s easy to get a parking spot close to their destination anyway.
Motor Way Signs
There are no motorways on Madagascar and there are few roads up to European standard.
Madagascans speak either Malagasy or French. As a traveller to Madagascar, you are better off using French.
Driving licence- Permis de Conduite
Insurance certificate – Carte Verte
Services (rest stops) - Aire de repos
Bailiff (for accidents) - Huissier
Pay-and-display machine – Horodateur
End of no parking zone - Fin d'interdiction de stationer
Beware roadworks - Attention travaux
Petrol - Essence
Unleaded - Sans plomb
Diesel – Gazole
Town centre – Centre Ville
I have broken down - J'ai décomposé
Where is the police station? - Où est le poste de police?
I have a flat tyre - J'ai un pneu à plat
I have been in an accident - J'ai été dans un accident
Where is? - Où est?
Where can I buy petrol? – Où puis-je acheter de l'essence?
No pedestrians - Interdit aux pietons
Exit – Sortie
One lane road - Voie unique
Turn on your lights - Allumez vos feux (lanterns)
Closed - Ferme
You’ll encounter few sets of traffic lights in Madagascar and those will be mainly in Antananarivo. Where you do find them they follow the internationally recognised sequence so you should encounter no problems.
There are no toll roads in Madagascar.
The emergency number in Madagascar is 117 for the police and 118 for the fire service. There is no number for ambulance as all are private. It is best to use the police number if you need medical help as well.
What to do in an emergency
Look for the emergency number on your documentation or insider the windscreen of your car if you suffer mechanical problems in your rental car. If using your own car then make sure you find the number of a reputable emergency assistance company before you set off.
In the event of an accident you must stop and call the emergency services only if there is major damage or injuries to a person or a domestic animal. Call the police and await their arrival. You should find that they’ll issue an accident report for your insurers or car hire company.
As of October 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Madagascar is 95p whilst diesel is 83p. Prices can vary between the towns and the smaller villages.