International Driving Permit and Licence for Bali
LAST UPDATED OCTOBER 2022
Can I drive in Bali with my Driver’s Licence?
For anyone wanting to drive and get on the roads in Bali (whether this be by car, motorbike, or scooter), you are going to need an International Driving Permit (IDP).
These permits need to be obtained in your home country and are basically a translation of your current driver’s licence into a number of different languages. You then need to have this International Driving Permit on you at all times when driving or riding on Balinese roads. Technically if you want to drive around on a scooter in Bali, know that having a local driver’s license is mandatory and one of the main prerequisites of obtaining a driver’s license in Indonesia is having a valid international driver’s license.
How to Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP)
Getting your hands on an International Driving Permit is straight forward. We organised ours through the NRMA. You simply fill out the required form online wait 5 days for it to be processed, and your permit is then posted out to you. Most Australian State Governments offer a similar service, or you can process it through other driving associations like the RACQ or RACV.
You can also check out the International Driving Permit website and search for your country. Here you’ll receive specific instructions based on your country of origin for how to go about getting your IDP. Click here if you are from America and would like to get an International Drivers Licence.
Essentially, ensure you have your usual driver’s licence from your country of origin and your International Driving Permit with you once you touch down and you’ll be covered for driving legally in Bali. However, outside of the International Driving Permit, there are some other issues to look out for.
How to Drive in Bali Safely
Traffic police in Bali have an interesting ‘reputation’ for targeting foreigners driving, especially those on scooters. Typically, they will setup traffic stops to check for those having an international permit, as well as checking for all people wearing helmets.
If you are pulled over by the police, you will be asked to present your licence and registration documents. It is illegal to drive without an international driver’s licence or local SIM drivers licence. You may be asked to pay for an ‘on the spot fine’. Such on the spot fines are illegal, however you may find it is the quickest way of exiting the situation. You can demand to get a written ticket to pay in a local court (usually 200,000k) but the police will insist on you paying for it on the spot which is really a ‘bribe’ instead. I would recommend staying calm and polite and carrying small bills in your wallet 100k ($10 AUD/$7 USD) and keep the rest of your money elsewhere, pay and move on.
To try and mitigate some of these potential issues, make sure you follow the rules and especially have your International Driving Permit organised before you leave. You also have to ensure you have both licenses in case of an accident and you wish to claim on health insurance.
When it comes to understanding the road rules – well that is another story! Let’s start by saying there are very few traffic lights! You drive on the left hand side of the road (like in Australia) with the driver sitting on the right side. Bali is known for its traffic jams so in some areas like Canggu you may wish to drive a scooter or get a Grab or GoJek. Even driving in the chaos there still is a rhythm and a tooting of your horn is not used as often as you would think you need becuause its more of courtesy to let drivers know what is going on (the horn is more of a polite gesture). Make sure to give yourself plenty of extra time when driving in Bali. Google maps will not always be accurate and to be on the safe side you could even add in an extra 30+ minutes of time to account for traffic. Also, try not to take things too personally. Motorbike cutting in and out of traffic is normal in Bali. There is a lot going on and negoitation is required – whether it be other bikes, cars, dogs, pedestrians, potholes, ceremonies and much more. Plus you have the wet weather to tackle and the road conditions that come with that.
For those who wish to learn how to ride a scooter and understand the Bali road rules it is reccomended that you take some scooter lessons. Places like Bali Safe Rider in Sanur and Canggu Scooter Lessons can help with that.
how do you rent a car?
There are larger car rental companies like Avis, otherwise there are smaller business like Drive in Bali, Bali Care Hire, Echo Bali Care Hire, and Bali Car Matic Car Rental. Then you can find even smaller ways with locals that rent their cars and scooters to expats, typically on Facebook. Trevo (a car sharing app) is another great option to start with, epecially when looking at short term rentals.
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