Uncertainty over need for visitor’s driving permit

| 14/12/2017 | 10 Comments

I will be visiting your fine island and saw your earlier article stating that it was no longer a requirement for a US-licensed driver to get a permit to drive in the Cayman Islands. I just got off the phone with DVDL and was told that all visitors to the island have to get a permit to drive during their stay. What is going on?


Auntie’s answer: If you were told that all visitors require a permit to drive then that that is incorrect. If you are renting a car, you will need to get a visitor’s permit. If you will be borrowing a private car and have a driver’s licence from a Convention Country (signatory of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, which includes the US) or hold an international driving permit, then you do not.

In explaining the rules, an official with the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing pointed to The Traffic Law, 2011, Section 28(2)-(4) which says that “all visitors to the Islands from a Convention Country who are qualified to drive and holds a valid driver’s licence in their home country for the class of vehicles to be driven, is allowed to drive in the Islands with a visitor’s permit for a period of six months” or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.

However, if you are not from a Convention Country but hold an international driving permit for the class of vehicles to be driven, you simply need to present that permit, your passport and your valid foreign domestic licence when renting a car. But you will need to purchase a visitor’s driving permit, which costs CI$16 (or US$20), from the car-hire company. The process for this is set out in Section 28 (5) and (6) of The Traffic Law, which says in part that a vehicle-hire entity may purchase in bulk permits from the Director of Licensing for visitors renting cars.

The situation is different for visitors who will instead be borrowing a private car. In that instance, if you have the permission of the owner and have an international driving permit or valid driver’s licence from a Convention country, you do not need to get a visitor’s permit. But it is important that the owner checks with the insurance company to make sure the visiting driver is covered under their policy.

The DVDL is in the process of updating its website to include all this information. I think the department also needs to update its staff to make sure that everyone will be able to answer questions like yours correctly.

Click here to see a list of the Convention countries and more about the International Driving Permit

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Category: Ask Auntie, Vehicle Licensing Questions

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    28(2) of the law and the related permit dealt with in (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) is only relevant for visitors driving motorcycles under 125 cc. 29 (2) permits a holder of a licence issued by a convention country to drive on that permit for 6 months.

  2. Check-it-out says:

    This has to be Auntie’s worst ‘explanation’ yet. It is full of contradictions; read the third paragraph carefully, then read the traffic regulations and you will see that holders of an International Driving Licence do NOT need to purchase a local visitor’s permit.

    Furthermore the article does not explain that there are two, different, International Driving Licences and which is valid in which country.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So this is just a tourist tax.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Still trying to find the part that says I have to buy a permit at the rental counter when I have a convention license. It is becoming clear that the permit sales are lining the pockets of the rental companies and the DVDL are trying to protect them no matter what the law says.

  5. D says:

    Where is that part about borrowing a private car in the law? You provide no reference to the section number.

    Auntie: This is not specifically set out in the law but, according to the interpretation provided by the DVDL, as long as a visitor has the correct documentation and the private-car owner is properly insured, then it is legal for the overseas driver to get behind the wheel in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      And clause 19 of the constitution says everything government does must be lawful, rational and proportionate. They just make this crap up.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Clause 19 test has to be applied from the viewpoint of the Absurdistan legislator on a freebie flight to Miami rather than the man on the Clapham omnibus.

    • Anonymous says:

      If there is fatal accident lawyers are sure to argue that the DVDL interpretation is wrong!

    • Anonymous says:

      As of today, the DVDL web site still states that visitors driving private vehicles need to purchase a visitor permit for $16. I’m not taking any chances with my visitors, so it’s off to DVDL hell in the morning. Sigh.

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