Do you wish to drive in Senegal? Here is some useful information regarding the driver's license and the highway code.
If you have decided to work and settle in Senegal, you will probably want to drive once settled in the country. This should rather be easy provided you have a valid driver's license and you are aware of the country's road traffic regulations. Note that nationals of some countries may have to convert their national driver's license to be allowed to drive in Senegal.
Senegal is deemed to be one of Africa's most modern countries. However, its roads suffer from lack of maintenance. Hence, traveling is not likely to be as smooth and comfortable as expected. In fact, most roads have holes and cracks in the tar. Note that Senegal experiences a heavy rainfall every year from April to October, which have often resulted in partial or total road destruction.
The Highway Code
Before driving in Senegal, bear in mind that the concept of driving schools has recently been introduced in the country, that is some 10 years back. Those who had started driving before that simply followed the flow.
You are likely to find two types of vehicles in Senegal: animal driven vehicles and engine driven vehicles. Note that Senegalese nationals are not as picky as they should be regarding the state of their vehicles. Therefore, you will often come across overloaded trucks without mirrors and headlights or with worn out tires. In the case of animal driven vehicles, the conductor is even more exposed to danger.
If you are to drive in Senegal, you should try to drive the way locals do. In fact, most roads do not have signs. The only thing you will have to watch out is your speed so as to avoid potholes, cracks and speed bumps which are found at village entrances and exits.
If you come from Western countries, you are most probably used to drive in streets where pedestrians walk on sidewalks and shops are found in concrete buildings. But if you are to drive in Dakar, you had better forget about these standards. In fact, the capital city is known to be very bustling, if not chaotic. You are likely to encounter not only huge traffic jams but also people walking and crossing the road anywhere. You better have to be very patient.
You will be authorized to drive in Senegal if you have an international driver's license. Otherwise, you will have to convert your national driver's license into a Senegalese driver's license at the Ministry of Transport's Land Transport Department (Avenue André Peytavin X Corniche - POB 2083 - Dakar / Phone: 33 842 36 43 / Fax: 33 821 81 01 / Director: El Hadji Seck Ndiaye WADE).
Nationals of countries where drivers’ licenses are issued in French are allowed to drive with their national driver's license during a year. Thereafter, they are required to apply for a conversion at the Driver's license and Driving schools' division by producing the following documents:
- their original driver's license
- a residence certificate
- 3 passport-size photos
- an authenticity certificate (or computerized report) issued by your home country
- fees of some CFA 10,000 for the light vehicles category
- a certified photocopy of your identity card
- a medical certificate issued by the officials' health center.
Obtain a Senegalese driver's license
According to local authorities, any Senegalese resident who is at least 18 years old can apply for a driver's license in the light vehicles category, that is B-Class (3.5 tons and up to 8 seats). Note that registering with a driving school is not yet compulsory in the country. However, it is more appropriate to take driving lessons before applying for a driver's license. You will then be entitled to at least 10 hours of driving lessons along with theoretical courses.
Once you have accomplished this step, you will have to undergo a medical test so as to determine your ability to drive. A medical certificate will then be issued. Finally, you will have to take part in a driving test. The request has to be made at the Regional Land Transport Division. The following documents are to be produced:
- 4 passport-size photos
- a residence certificate
- a civil status document or a certified copy of your national identity card
- a tax stamp of CFA 4,000
- an issuance stamp of CFA 10,000
- a medical certificate proving your ability to drive.
Good to know:
Speed is limited at 90 km/h on highways, 50 km/h in residential areas and 130 km/h on motorways.
Priority is on the right side of the road at roundabouts. Larger vehicles have priority over smaller ones.
Paved roads, though often damaged, are lined by parallel tracks which are in better condition.
Pedestrians (especially children) and animals tend to cross the road anywhere, even on the highway.
In Dakar, driver's license applications are accepted only on Mondays and Thursdays. Issuing procedures can take an average of 24 hours.
Expat.com - Senegal Transportation Forum
Public Service www.servicepublic.gouv.sn/index.php/demarche_administrative/demarche/1/392
Land Transport Management www.servicepublic.gouv.sn/index.php/demarche_administrative/services/1/27
Land Transport Regional Divisions www.servicepublic.gouv.sn/index.php/demarche_administrative/services/1/99
Driver's license and Driving schools Division www.servicepublic.gouv.sn/index.php/demarche_administrative/services/1/88