No matter what country, the first thing an aspiring driver has to do before officially getting behind the wheel is to pass a driving permit test, and Malawi is no different. Although it may seem daunting, here we break down the process of how to get a driver’s license in this southeastern African country to make it a little easier to understand.
Driver’s Licenses in Malawi Explained
Licensing a trade or a skill or indeed a business helps to bring about order. A driver’s license is purposed to ensure that only qualified people drive on the roads. This ensures safety for all road users, and protects vehicles from avoidable damage that can arise from improper driving. In Malawi, driver’s licenses are provided by the Department of Road Traffic Services (DRTSS). This is a government department under the ministry of transport and public works. There are regional offices located in Lilongwe, Blantyre, and Mzuzu.
Driver’s licenses in Malawi are governed by an Act of Parliament. Malawi issues driver’s licenses that are applicable to the whole Southern Africa Development Community region of 15 countries, and the Malawi driving licensing system conforms to the European Unified Driving License system. The minimum age requirement to be eligible to possess a driver’s license in Malawi is 18 years of age. In addition, it is mandatory for one to go through a driving course from a school recognised by the DRTSS and subsequently pass the driving school’s tests in order to quality for a driver’s license.
The Malawi Driving Permit Test Process
Driving lessons vary in length but the minimum is 30 days, and can stretch to as long as 3 to 4 months depending on the arranged schedule. During the driving course, one aspiring for a driver’s license may be granted a temporary learner’s license. The learner’s license does not curtail one from taking final driving tests.
The tests themselves are both oral and practical driving tests, with the oral examination testing one’s grasp of the Malawi highway code. Before one is conferred with a drivers’ license, they must, as a matter of necessity, also pass all the associated medical tests. The most important of these medical tests is the sight test, which one must pass or remedy with spectacles in order to be deemed fit to drive.
The revised system at DRTSS links all the recognised driving schools through the Internet network. Thus when one enrols with a driver’s learner institution, the department database is updated too. However, the essential requirement before one can begin a driver’s license procession at the department is that one should have a registration card, which costs MK5,000. This process includes capturing one’s fingerprint and facial features.
Upon passing the driving tests, these stored details are used to print a uniquely numbered driver’s license. There are three categories of licenses based on the purpose of what the driver is authorised to carry, namely for passengers carriage (P), goods carriage (G) and dangerous goods carriage (D). Then there are also codes which are represented by letters such A, B, C, D, E. The meaning behind these codes is that they show the approved vehicles one can drive in terms of gross weight. For example, under category G one may be issued with either Class B for sedans and hatchbacks or class C for trucks.
When and How to Renew a Driver’s License
Once issued a driver’s license in Malawi, it is valid for a specific period, usually two years. If this period elapses, a driver’s authorisation to drive on Malawi roads expires in turn, although of course it does not mean that a driver’s skills and experience have also expired. Upon expiry, a driver will need to apply for renewal, which costs around MK15, 000.
It is noteworthy to mention that driver’s license renewal fees in Malawi are usually lower than costs incurred when initially applying for a license. Furthermore, a driver can also upgrade their license to higher categories and classes, subject to driving experience and passing the relevant tests.
Can Foreigners Drive in Malawi?
Are you a foreigner and planning to come to Malawi? Well, you do not have to worry about driving. Any foreigner who holds a valid license issued in their home country can apply for a corresponding Malawi issued license without having to take a road test. Those that do not hold a valid license are required to take driving lessons, like native Malawians, at any DRTSS recognised driving school and thereafter be subjected to a driving test before they can be permitted to get a driver’s license in Malawi.
This article is written by BE FORWARD Supporters ID 27138 John Banda in Malawi. What is BE FORWARD Supporters? Click here to join!