Driving in a different country can be extremely stressful - especially when the driving laws differ to the ones you’re used to in your home country. Whether you’re visiting another country, you’ve just got a fiance visa or you’ve just received a settlement visa, you’ll find there are many different (and bizarre) driving laws you will need to adhere to.
In the UK and other countries, if you fail to adhere to immigration rules or break the law in some instances, you may see your visa revoked. From the serious to the strange, here are a few driving laws around the world that you need to follow.
Driving Laws in Thailand
Thailand is an incredibly popular tourist destination - in 2016 Thailand received a record breaking 32.59 million foreign visitors (VOA News) and it’s thought that this figure will continue to grow. If you’re travelling to Thailand and plan to drive while there, you’ll want to know these following rules:
- You must drive on the left-hand side of the road
- It is mandatory for passengers in the front of the car to wear a seatbelt. It is not compulsory for passengers in the back to wear seatbelts
- Child seats are optional
- You must be over the age of 18 to drive in Thailand.
- You can drive a vehicle in Thailand for 6 months under an international driver’s license - after that you must apply for a Thai driving license.
- It is a finable offence to drive a tuk tuk, car or bike topless.
Driving Laws in Russia
According to Russia Beyond, 31.6 million visitors entered Russia in 2015 - in fact, Russia held a spot in the top 10 places in the world for tourists to visit! Before you travel to Russia, you should check with your Government’s Foreign Affairs Ministry or your embassy, as there might be instances where travelling to Russia is decidedly unsafe due to tense international relationships. However, in most cases travelling to Russia will be fine and is safe. Here are a few driving laws you should know:
- You must drive on the right-hand side of the road
- It is illegal for children under the age of 12 to sit in the front seat of a vehicle
- You must be 18 or over to drive a car and 16 or over to drive a motorcycle
- It is against the law to drive a car that has mud on the license plate
- Foreign drivers need their driving license and an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive a vehicle in Russia
- It is against the law to turn at a red light when there isn’t a green arrow traffic light accompanying it
Driving Laws in South Africa
In 2016 tourism levels in South Africa reached 15.52 million, and it is predicted that this figure will reach 18.5 million by 2021 (Statista). From the beautiful beaches to the dense jungles that are home to some incredible wildlife, it’s easy to see why so many people flock to visit South Africa. Here are a few driving rules you should know:
- You must drive on the left-hand side of the road in South Africa
- Foreign drivers need their driving license and an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive a car
- It is advised that you don’t ever pick up a hitchhiker or someone on the side of the road in South Africa
- It is compulsory for everyone in the vehicle to wear a seatbelt
- You may face a fine if you fail to stop for any livestock or animals crossing the road
- You must be 18 to have a driving license in South Africa
- You must be over the age of 16 to ride a motorbike with the maximum engine capacity of 125cc
Driving Laws in Germany
According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, Germany is the seventh most visited country in the world and a favoured tourist destination. Renowned for its Christmas Markets, luxury spa getaways, cosmopolitan climate and affordable living costs, it is easy to see why it is so popular. Here are a few German driving laws you need to know:
- Foreign drivers must be over 18 to get behind the wheel of a vehicle in Germany
- You do not need an International Driving Permit to drive in Germany - just your valid driver’s license.
- If you enter a green zone in Germany and your car doesn’t have a special sticker (Umweltplakette), you will be fined
- You must drive on the right-hand side of the road in Germany
- Many rural roads and the autobahn (motorway) in Germany do not have a speed limit
- It is against the law to stop, run out of petrol or break down on the autobahn in Germany
Driving Laws in the UK
According to VisitBritain, 37.6 million overseas people visited the UK in 2016 and spent a record £22.5 billion. As well as being a popular tourist destination, the UK has 442,375 non-UK students studying in England, and 42% of postgraduate students come from outside of the EU (UKCISA). Britain strives to be a culturally diverse country, offering opportunity for all. Whether you’re moving over to the UK on a
permitted paid engagement visa, student visa, spouse visa or any other type of UK visa, you should make sure you’re familiar with these driving laws:
- You will be fined £200 and receive six points on your license if you are caught using a mobile phone at the wheel.
- It is mandatory for everyone in the vehicle to wear a seatbelt.
- You must be 17 or over to drive a vehicle.
- It is against the law to sleep in your car after you have consumed alcohol.
- You must drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- You can drive in the UK with an international driver’s license for up to 12 months.
Driving Laws in the USA
According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer 75.6 million overseas people visited America in 2016 - America took second place in the most popular destinations for people to visit. With more than 3,000 counties to explore and the ideology of the American Dream still going strong, it is easy to see why so many people choose to move to the States. If you want to visit America, here are a few driving laws you ought to know:
- You must drive on the right hand side of the road
- It is illegal to drive whilst you’re intoxicated in America
- Some states will require international drivers to have their driving license and an International Driver’s Permit
- The driving age limit for International Drivers does not stand, as long as they have a valid driving license
- In San Francisco, it is illegal to dry or buff your car with underwear
- In Alabama, it is illegal to drive whilst blindfolded
- In Alaska, it is illegal to tie a dog to your roof whilst driving
Bizarre Driving Laws Around the World
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- You must have your headlights on 24/7 in Scandinavia
- Windscreen wipers are compulsory in Luxembourg (even if your car doesn’t have a windscreen)
- In the Philippines, it is against the law for cars with number plates ending in ‘1’ or ‘2’ to drive in Manilla on a Monday (They want to reduce traffic build up)
- It is illegal to stop for pedestrians in China
- In Japan, it is against the law to splash a pedestrian with mud or water via your car
- It is illegal to drive in your bathrobe in California
- It is against the law for women to drive a car in Saudi Arabia (but they can own a car)
- You are not allowed to ride a bicycle in North Korea if you are a female
- You must check to see if children are hiding underneath your car before you set off on your journey in Denmark
- In Macedonia, it is illegal for a drunk person to sit in the front passenger seat
- In Spain, you can only park outside of a house with an uneven number on an uneven day. For example, you cannot park outside a house with an even number on the first of the month, or outside a house with an uneven number on the second of the month
- It is illegal to carry a corpse in a taxi in the UK