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Navigating questions on visitors’ driving permits

| 06/08/2017 | 8 Comments

There were many comments and a few contradictory posts after the previous column on a visitor’s driving permit (see May visitors drive with US licence in Cayman?). In the hopes of providing clarity, I have compiled all the queries into one overall question for the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing (DVDL): What exactly are the rules for driving permits for visitors to Cayman?


Auntie’s answer: Even though the question is fairly broad, I did touch on the specific issues that various readers asked about. I hope that the answers here clear up any remaining confusion. I also want to give credit to the DVDL because a very patient official with the department answered all of my many questions in my quest to cover as much of the subject as possible. And one more thing: let me apologise for my part in disseminating any out-of-date information.

Now then, it seems a lot of the conflicting information can be traced to the fact that the rules are different for visitors to Cayman as opposed to people moving here to work who are considered residents. Since the original question had to do with visitors, I will start there.

Any visitor holding a valid licence from a Convention country or who has an international driving permit (for more information, click here) will be allowed to drive in Cayman for up to six months. If you will be driving a private car (not a hire car), then in addition to requiring permission of the owner, you should have them check with their insurance company that you will be allowed to get behind the wheel in Cayman and be covered under their policy. Some insurers simply require notification of the additional driver if they are coming from overseas. The safest thing is to ask about coverage.

After the six months, the visitor will need to pass a written test, but doesn’t have to take a road test, in order to be issued with a Cayman driver’s licence. This is addressed in Section 29 of the Traffic Law, 2011. However, if the person does not hold either a licence from a Convention country or an international driver’s permit, the six-month rule will not apply and he or she will have to pass both a written and a road test before being allowed to drive here.

I think, based on many of the comments, the important piece of information to impart here is that if you satisfy the above criteria, you do not need to purchase a visitor’s permit to drive in Cayman. One other point: the page on visitor’s permits on the DVDL website does not reflect this updated information, but I have been assured the department is working to amend that page as soon as possible.

The situation is different for residents, though. Once moving to Cayman, a person is allowed to drive on their home licence for no more than three months. Within the first three months of arriving, they can use their home driver’s licence (if that country is a signatory of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic) to get a Cayman permit through what is known as a “Geneva Transfer”. The DVDL requires, however, that the applicant pass a written test. After the three-month time limit, you can still get a Cayman licence but you will need to pass both a written and road test. For more information, here is a link to the DVDL website.

And, in case anyone was wondering, if your home country has not signed the Convention, you can’t transfer your licence even if you hold an international permit.

I think – and fervently hope — that covers all the relevant information about driving in Cayman with a foreign licence. However, I will be happy to address any other questions that might come up.

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Category: Ask Auntie, Vehicle Licensing Questions

Comments (8)

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  1. Laurie says:

    Just in case rental car companies Wont comply–
    If you travel more than once a yr it’s worth getting an international drivers permit – go to any AAA in US. Around 30$

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? If you’re from a Convention country, you do not need it!

      Car rental agencies in the Cayman Islands who insist on charging this fee now, after the CNS has run their article, KNOW they are stealing from vistors.

      If a rental car company tries to charge anyone from one of these countries, they should be told NO and that you will not hesitate to call the reprentatives at the DVDL, Department of Tourism, Cayman Islands Tourism Associations (CITA), the RCIPS, and the CNS news.

      This is theft.

      The same as a person robbing a tourist on the street or a person on the beach. They are charging for something that a tourist does not need.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It appears to me that “The Traffic (International Circulation) Regulations (2012), part 4(1)”, promulgated under “The Traffic Law (2011)” (both are on the DVDL website under “Legislation”) clearly states that visitors from Convention states, such as the US, can drive on their home state driver’s licence for up to 12 months. So it looks like the legal change was in 2012, not 2014, and yet the website advice on visitor permits is still not changed in 5 years despite CNS’ recent inquiry. Their webmaster is clearly asleep. Can CNS ask them to announce this ichange n public (and what countries it applies to) so we have some chance of convincing the rental companies?

  3. Tara Leslie says:

    Do you have an actual reference to the change in the Act that specifies that visitors do not actually require a visitor’s permit if they have a valid licence from a convention country? Do you know if car rental companies are aware of this? Will they still insist on a visitor’s permit even if we inform them that Auntie told us we don’t have to have one, lol?

    I’m arriving on Tuesday, I need to know 🙂

    I don’t mind paying for one if it is a legal requirement, but I would get a bit cross if it’s just something car rental companies are using to earn a few extra $$.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A recent visit by a friend involved being FORCED to obtain a local permit to be allowed to rent a car for a short four day stay! Who is getting all this illicit money?

  5. Anonymous@anonymous.com says:

    Who has been getting the money?? It is carbon copied, with people’s home addresses, license numbers, I suggest that everyone gets their money back before this scam goes worldwide.

    If the DVDL had been getting all the money, didn’t they think it was weird when most of Cayman’s visitors come from a Convention country?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Who should we send our refund requests to for the drivers permits we have bought over the years? Serious question.

    Thank you for saving us about 60 – 80 dollars USD per year x 2 drivers on a rental car.

    Disgusting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So what about rental cars? They are still making us visitors from the US buy Cayman permits unless we have an international permit.

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