Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Pakistan?
There are many areas of Pakistan which are not safe to visit. These include the semi-autonomous regions including Waziristan and the tribal areas near the Afghan border and the Indian border region.
Elsewhere you'll find many other great areas for you to visit which will be safe but you should always take note of local advice.
Seat Belt Laws
By law, everyone in a moving car should wear seatbelts if travelling in the front of a vehicle and also in the back where fitted.
Drinking and Driving
Being a Muslim country, alcohol is forbidden and so there is zero tolerance of drinking and driving. Penalties are severe and can include jail and deportation.
Must Have Documents
With the amount of documentation needed whilst driving in Pakistan, you may not have room for passengers! You need to carry a valid driving licence, the registration certificate of the vehicle, proof of a minimum of third part insurance, a certificate proving your fitness to drive and a copy of the Pakistani Highway Code.
The speed limits for Pakistan are as follows:
Motorways: 120 km/h
Dual carriageways 100 km/h
Open roads: 80/100 km/h
In Town: 50 km/h
Mosques, schools and hospitals 40 km/h
Military processions 24 km/h
There is also a minimum speed of 65 km/h on rural roads and 50 km/h on highways through urban areas.
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Pakistan. Rental companies will not normally let you hire a car unless you are 21 or 23. Below 25 you’ll often have to pay a young drivers’ premium.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
The use of such devices is not illegal in Pakistan but it’s recommended that you forget trying to beat the cameras and instead, focus on driving safely.
On the Spot Fines
If you are stopped by the police in Pakistan, you will be asked for your documentation. If it is ascertained that a crime has been committed, you will be issued with a notice detailing the offence, the fine and where to pay it. It is rare, but not unknown, that you will be asked for the fine in cash – this is illegal and should be politely refused.
Child Safety Rules
In Pakistan, children under 1.5m tall or 11 years old must be securely fitted in age appropriate restraint systems and cannot sit in the front of a vehicle.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Pakistan and you must carry proof of it by way of a valid certificate.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• Pakistan drives on the left
• Changing lanes or turning without signalling is illegal
• Pedestrians have right of way at all times
• Pedestrian crossings must be kept clear and parking on them or overtaking on them is illegal
• You must give way to vehicles travelling uphill
• Throwing cigarettes or litter from a car is illegal
Make sure that anything being towed is securely attached and that you have good all round visibility. The towed vehicle must have red flags on it by day and red lights by night. If towing, you must use only the extreme left lane of any highways.
You will find some fixed speed cameras in Pakistan but the police force rely mainly on mobile speed traps. If you are caught by a fixed camera, the fine will be sent to the registered address of the vehicle whilst mobile traps issue tickets on the spot
Using Mobile Phones when driving
It’s illegal to talk or text on a mobile phone whilst driving in Pakistan unless you have a hands free kit.
You must not park other than in authorised parking spaces in the central districts of the large towns and cities. Elsewhere you can park wherever you find a space. Wherever you park it must not cause obstruction.
Many authorised parking spaces in the big cities are covered by ticket machines. Parking charges are low, the equivalent of 10p for an hour and you’ll know your car is safe. There are garages and parking areas which are also controlled by charges and these often give more security as they are attended.
Enforcement of parking is done by the police but generally only when an obstruction is caused. Overstaying your parking time on authorised spaces can earn a ticket but this is rarely enforced.
There are no concessions for disabled drivers in Pakistan but if you used parking garages or lots that are attended you’ll usually find someone who is prepared to assist.
Motor Way Signs
There are many motorways in Pakistan and all of them have tolls. The signs on a motorway are green with white writing.
Despite Pakistanis speaking Urdu, you'll find the majority of them understand English very well and that signs in the country are also printed in English too.
In Pakistan traffic lights follow the same system used in the UK. You cannot turn left on a red unless an arrow indicated that you can.
All the motorways in Pakistan are toll controlled. You’ll be issued with a toll card on entry and then insert it into a payment machine when you leave to be informed of the toll. Locals use an e-toll system to avoid stopping by travelling through the e-toll lanes on exit.
The emergency number in Pakistan is 15 for the police, 16 for the fire service and 115 for medical.
What to do in an emergency
If you have a problem with your car you can contact your hire car company using the number on the documentation and inside the windscreen. If you are using your own vehicle, make sure you take the number of a local emergency assistance company with you when you travel.
In an accident, call the police and medical services if someone has been injured. If it’s only minor damage to the vehicles, you will not need to get the police involved. Take the details of all those involved together with witnesses. If you can, take photographs of the scene.
As of October 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Pakistan is 65p whilst diesel is 58p. Prices can vary between the towns and the smaller villages.