Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Reunion?
Driving on La Reunion is fairly uncomplicated - you just have to be aware of warnings about volcanic eruptions which can frequent.
In the rainy season the roads can be impassable in places as torrents of mud and rockfalls have been known to block routes. If you're considering driving at such times of year, book a 4 x 4 for safety.
Seat Belt Laws
Drivers and all passengers of cars on La Reunion must wear a seat belt whilst the car is moving. Failure to do so can result in a fine.
Drinking and Driving
On La Reunion the permitted blood alcohol level is 50mg per 100ml of blood. This equates to around one drink meaning that it is sensible to not have any alcohol if getting behind the wheel.
Must Have Documents
The only official documentation you need to be able to drive on La Reunion is your driving licence and an international version of it. Whilst not compulsory, it’s useful to have your registration documents, motor insurance certificate and a copy of your passport.
The speed limits for La Reunion are as follows:
Open roads: 90 km/h
In Town: variable up to 50 km/h
Highways: 110 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in La Reunion. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 21, sometimes 23, and if you’re under 25 years old, a premium for being an inexperienced driver may apply.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are not illegal on La Reunion and there are many fixed speed cameras and mobile speed traps, especially in Saint-Denis. However it is never recommended to exceed the speed limit given the difficult driving conditions you may encounter.
On the Spot Fines
If you are stopped for committing a traffic offence you will be given a penalty notice which details the offence, the fine and how to pay it. Usually the deadline is 14 days from the date of the offence but you can choose to contest the charge in court.
Child Safety Rules
On La Reunion, children under the age of twelve cannot travel in the front of a car and must be fitted into an age appropriate restraint system in the rear. By advising us of your requirements when you book, we’ll ensure that the correct system is fitted ready for your collection.
You must have at least third party insurance to drive on La Reunion. Whilst you don’t have to carry the document with you, it’s useful to be able to show it if asked.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• On La Reunion, cars travel on the right hand side of the road
• In the rainy season, some roads can be impassable
• Volcanic activity can also cause disruption for drivers on La Reunion
There are no restrictions on towing a vehicle on La Reunion but you’ll need to make sure the towed vehicle is securely attached, especially given the winding nature of the roads.
There are several fixed speed cameras around the island, especially in the capital Saint-Denis. If you are caught by one, you’ll get a ticket sent to the registered address of the vehicle and if this is a car hire company, the ticket will be forwarded on. Mobile traps are less common but still in use, especially at accident blackspots.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
You cannot use a mobile phone without a hands free kit whilst driving on La Reunion.
Parking restrictions are few and where you are not allowed to park, you’ll find signs clearly indicating it in French and English. You will find free parking just about everywhere but avoid parking where you’ll obstruct others or narrow a road so only one direction can pass.
Paid parking is rare and is only found around tourist sites or where an enterprising local has set up his own parking area. On most occasions you won’t need to use these.
The only enforcement on La Reunion is undertaken when drivers park inconsiderately. On most occasions, parking where locals park and avoiding entrances or narrow roads will mean you’ll not encounter any trouble.
Concessions for disabled drivers are virtually non-existent and it will be up to you to find readily accessible parking. This is usually not too difficult but locals are always keen to help if you are struggling.
Motor Way Signs
There are no motorways on La Reunion.
Driving licence- Permis de Conduite
Insurance certificate – Carte Verte
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
The sequencing of traffic lights on La Reunion should be familiar to all as they follow the standards set down by the Vienna Convention.
There are no toll roads on La Reunion.
The emergency number on La Reunion is 112, the same as for the EU.
What to do in an emergency
If you’ve hired a car and are having difficulties, telephone the emergency number given on the rental documentation or found on a sticker inside the windscreen or the sun visor. If you’re in a private car, you’ll need to contact a mechanic as there is no emergency assistance facility on La Reunion.
As in many countries, if you are involved in a minor collision where no one is hurt, you can simply sort the matter out between the parties involved. If there is major damage or injuries, you must call the emergency services and await their arrival. In the interim, don’t move the vehicles unless absolutely necessary and then, take photographs of their position before you do. When the police attend they will give you a copy of their report for the car hire company or your insurers.
As of January 2015, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in La Reunion is £1.05 whilst diesel is £1.11. Prices can vary between the capital Saint-Denis and the rural areas.