For driving in Addis Abeba you don’t need special skills; just don’t think about traffic-rules and you will blend in nicely. Driving on the opposite lane of the ring-road, stop on the middle of the road to telephone, don’t look when changing lanes, et cetera. Anyway, in this blog I’ll give some practical tips for expats coming to Addis Abeba and dare to drive a car.
When you get to Addis Abeba, you’ll most likely want to hire a car. There are plenty taxi’s, however, you’ll pay around 700,- ETB per day for hiring one. A car can be rented for example at ABC car rental next to Edna Mall. Or ask around and you will find someone who will rent you his private car (300,- / 400,- ETB). It’s not legal; just say to the police that you borrowed the car from a friend. One important warning, if you hit a pedestrian, even if (s)he jumped in front of your car on purpose, you WILL end up in jail.
Picture of cab drove into market.
After three months of residing in Ethiopia, you need to have an Ethiopian drivers license. Ethiopia is one of the few countries (among Vietnam & North Korea) where you are not allowed to drive with you international recognized drivers license. An Ethiopian license needs to be obtained. Don’t worry that you have to take lessons again (that would be ironic), worry about the bureaucracy. It can drive you to madness!
Step 1: go to your embassy and leave your license for an official translation (777,- ETB @Dutch embassy). KEEP THE RECEIPT! KEEP THE RECEIPT!
Step 2) pick up your license and the translation from the embassy.
Step 3) go to Ministry of Internal affairs (between Josef Tito Street & Zewditu Street) and legalize the translated document. You need to prove that you paid for the translation, therefore the receipt. Don’t argue with Ethiopian reason.
Step 4) take 2 passport photographs (they have to be the same).
Step 5) go to your sub-city road authorities. Bring all the receipts. You will need someone to help you filling in the documents because they are in Amharic. You’ll pay 10 ETB here, 100 ETB there, fill in more documents and voila, you may officially drive like a nutcase.
Buying a car.
Cars are very expensive in Ethiopia, unless you have a duty-free or other kind of status. You can buy a car from a dealer or from a friend of a friend of a friend. Often you will have to deal with ‘brokers’. Some of these brokers can be a pain in the ass. The usual broker fee is 2% from the selling price from the buyer and/or 2% from the selling party.
This car is a joke!
It’s normal to take the car of interest to a garage of your own choice for a check-up. Make sure that the car-papers are in order. A contract is then written, signed additionally by three witnesses and an advance is paid. Then, it all starts to get fuzzy and it’s the moment when the broker has to make his money worth.
The transfer of ownership is done at the road-authority bureau where the car is registered. First, you need to get a document, similar as the contract, which also needs to be signed by the three witnesses. Tax has to be paid around 2% of the selling price. IMPORTANT, don’t give the price that you actually paid for the car! You might as well write down that you paid 1 ETB for the car. The road-authorities will then make their own estimation of what the car is worth, which is usually much lower than the actual price. Otherwise, they will charge tax over the higher amount that you put in the documents. Next, papers need to be legalized or authenticated at an ‘authentication office’. It’s a sort of notary. Questions will be asked, if there are any remaining payments and if everything is understood. In between, two (same) passport photo’s have to be made. Then, go to the bank to pay a fee. Go back to the authentication office. Collect all papers.
Go back to the road authorities, fill in some more documents and then finally, the car is yours. A tip, keep an eye on ALL papers, documents and receipts. You may even want to take a picture of each paper slip with your mobile phone, just in case.
At the road authorities.
Once a year, the car needs a technical checkup (200, ETB) and a sticker is placed on your windscreen. Furthermore, car insurance needs to be bought. Full coverage for a mediocre car will cost around 5000,- ETB per year.
Somali Police car.
I think that’s it. Hopefully you found some useful tips in this blog. I wish you good luck (!) driving in Ethiopia.
Do you want to know how to do the annual car inspection in Ethiopia? Read this blog.
Driving in Addis from Rob Hove on Vimeo.