How Can You Get a Valid Permit to Drive in Sri Lanka?

If you have decided to drive yourself, you will need a valid Sri Lankan permit as Sri Lankan law does not allow individuals to drive with licenses issued in other countries.

According to the State Minister of Transport, there is a plan to allow foreigners to apply for their driving license directly at the Sri Lankan Airport upon arrival. This initiative aims to streamline and simplify the process for foreign applicants. However, we have not received any further updates since the initial announcement, so it is unclear when this program will be implemented.

In the meantime, there are currently only two options available for foreigners to obtain a valid driving permit in Sri Lanka:

  1. Obtain a temporary Sri Lankan Driving Permit at the Department of Motor Traffic
  2. Get your International Driving Permit endorsed by the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka (AA)

Option 1 – Obtaining a Temporary Sri Lankan Driving Permit

Foreign Driving License holders must obtain a temporary Sri Lankan Driving Permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to be able to drive legally in Sri Lanka. The DMV is located in Werahera, about 30 mins away from central Colombo, depending on traffic. The process to obtain this permit may take anything from 30 minutes to a few hours. The DMV is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM. But please do check the Sri Lankan holiday calendar to ensure the DMV is open. If your license is not in English, a translation by the respective Embassy or any authority in each country is required. The following documents are required

  • Your own Country Driving License (English Copy/ Translation if not in English) + Photocopy
  • Your National Passport + Photocopy of profile/photo page and Sri Lankan Visa Page

More information on the DMV Website.

You can locate the DMV on Google Maps.

Option 2 – Driving with an IDL/IDP with AA Endorsement

You will need to have obtained an International Drivers License or International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country and with this IDP you could go to the Automobile Association of Ceylon, to get your driving permit endorsed. The endorsement is given over the counter at the AA office in Colombo which is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.

More information on the AA Website.

You can locate the AA on Google Maps.

International Driving Permit (IDP) For Indian Citizens

Indian citizens who wish to drive a motor vehicle in foreign countries, your Indian Driving Licence is valid, provided it is accompanied by an International Driving Permit (IDP). This IDP is issued by the RTO and has a maximum validity of one year from the date of issue, or up to the expiry date of your driving licence, whichever is earlier.

Documents required

  • Duly filled out Form 4A Application.
  • Valid Driving License.
  • Valid Passport.
  • Valid Visa (where applicable).
  • Valid Air Ticket (for verification).
  • Valid proof of Indian Nationality

For more information on International Driving Permits for Indians please visit the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways Website.

Wednesday March 16, 2022