Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Swaziland?
Swaziland is a land-locked country in Southern Africa. It has a varied landscape and very friendly people. Driving in the major towns can be a nightmare throughout the day but escape out into the countryside in a 4 x 4 and you'll find a rich landscape well worth the effort. Try to avoid the rainy season when driving becomes even more difficult and even dangerous at times.
Seat Belt Laws
By law, everyone in a moving car in Swaziland must wear a seat belt. Many don’t, reflected in the higher proportion of deaths of passengers compared to drivers.
Drinking and Driving
The drink driving laws in Swaziland state that you must have no more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in your system. The police are quite strict on enforcement, operating random roadside checks on a regular basis.
Must Have Documents
You will need to have both parts of your driving licence; paper and card and an international driving licence if yours is not issued by South Africa. You should carry your registration documents and a copy of your passport.
The speed limits for Swaziland are as follows:
Open roads: 80 km/h
In Town: 60 km/h
Highways 120 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Swaziland. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 23 and you may need to have had at least a year’s experience of driving. Under 25 and you’ll be charged a premium for your youth.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are not illegal in Swaziland but, given the condition of the roads and the skills of other drivers, it’s recommended that you simply stick to the speed limits.
On the Spot Fines
In some parts of Swaziland, the poverty means that police may ask you for cash in lieu of a fine. Swaziland is working hard to eradicate this problem and where safe to do so, you should ask for a ticket and pay the fine in the correct manner or seek a receipt.
Child Safety Rules
There are no specific laws governing the harnessing of children in cars and it is up to you to ensure their safety. If you are hiring a car with us, just tell us your requirements when you book and we’ll ensure the correct seats are fitted ready for your arrival.
The AA of South Africa advise that third party cover for all vehicles is included in the price of fuel in Swaziland
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• Swaziland drives on the left
• Car-jacking is a common and dangerous crime in Swaziland, don’t stop to help others and never pick up hitchhikers
• Roads are generally in poor conditions so the speed limits in many cases are improbable. Adjust your speed to the conditions.
There are no laws governing towing in Swaziland, you should simply use your common sense and ensure that what you are towing is attached firmly and that you can see what’s happening around the vehicle as you drive.
You won’t find any fixed speed cameras in Swaziland but the police regularly set up mobile speed traps to catch unsuspecting motorists. The road conditions are generally poor in Swaziland so it would be wise to stay well below the speed limit in any case.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
In theory, it’s illegal to use a mobile phone without a hands-free kit in Swaziland but the law is regularly flouted.
Swaziland’s parking style is very haphazard and generally involves abandoning your car near the side of the road, especially out of the towns. You’ll rarely get towed for obstructing, more likely simply facing an irate crowd or for someone to find you to ask you to move your car.
Although there is paid parking in the main towns, few use it. For that reason you’ll often find the parking lots and garages near empty. It is recommended to use the parking garages, especially at night for security as they are usually attended.
Parking issues are normally dealt with by the police but very infrequently.
There are very few concessions to be found in Swaziland for disabled drivers and the onus is on you to negotiate a more accessible space. Usually you’ll be assisted, especially if you choose to park in a attended garage.
Motor Way Signs
The only road of motorway standard in Swaziland is the MR3 that joins the border to Mbabane and Manzini although there are several dual carriageways in varying states of repair. Signs on the motorway are green with white writing.
English is commonly spoken in Swaziland as it is one of the national languages. You will have no trouble getting yourself understood in Swaziland.
There are not many traffic lights in Swaziland; the ones you’ll find being in Mbabane and less frequently in Manzini. The sequencing of the lights should be familiar to most drivers.
There are no toll roads in Swaziland. Several South African toll roads skirt the country or start at its borders so if you’re crossing the border, be aware that you may start paying tolls immediately.
The emergency number in Swaziland is the UK standard 999 for all emergency services.
What to do in an emergency
Much of Swaziland is rural and you’ll need to have your mobile phone topped up if travelling far from the towns. In a rental car, use the emergency number inside the windscreen or on your documentation, in your own car, make sure you have the number of a reputable mechanic who has breakdown services.
You will only need to inform the police of an accident if someone is injured or if one or more of the vehicles is undriveable. Many minor bumps are sorted out between the drivers. If the police do attend, ask for a copy of their report for your insurers or car hire company.
As of November 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Swaziland is 65p whilst diesel is 59p. Prices can vary between the towns and the smaller villages.