How to get an International Driving Licence Sri Lanka (updated 2022)

If you have just landed in Sri Lanka and want to go on a road trip, or you have been here a while and the need has arisen for you to drive or rent a vehicle – you have come to the right place! Getting a driving permit (or Recognition Permit) in Sri Lanka is relatively easy; there are two main options when getting it yourself as listed below.

  1. With an international driving license/permit (referred to as IDP)
  2. With your home-country driving license

If you rent a tuktuk with TukTuk Rental we will arrange everything and have it ready before you arrive 🙂  Click here to book it now!

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that requires you to get your license verified in-country before you can drive. This means, driving on an IDP or foreign national license is illegal in Sri Lanka. You need to get your non-Sri Lankan license “verified” in Sri Lanka before you can drive. The document you receive is called a Sri Lankan Recognition Permit.

Here is an example of the laws as an excerpt from the Automobile Association of America (AAA):

IDP in Sri Lanka example AAA

IDP rules and regulations in Sri Lanka example AAA

If you are looking for information on a regular Sri Lankan driving license (same as for a local Sri Lankan), You’ll have to look elsewhere! 


DEFINITIONS:

International Driving Permit (IDP)

the permit that you get in your own country before travelling abroad usually at an Automobile association (eg. The Automobile Association of America).

Temporary Driving License

the license issued by the Sri Lankan authorities that allows you to drive certain classes of vehicles in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka there are two authorities that will issue this license, (1) Automobile Association of Ceylon and (2) Department of Motor Transport

Sri Lankan Driving license

the license available to resident or tourists with over 6 months on their visa and is the same license that a local Sri Lankan would obtain.

 

OPTIONS:

The following is a summary of each the two options you have to obtain a Temporary Driving License; (1) At the Automobile Association of Ceylon, and, (2) at the Department of Motor Traffic.  Further details are given specifically for IDP and Country of Origin License below the table. 

 
AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION OF CEYLON
Department of Motor Traffic (BORALESGAMUWA)
You Have? ·         International Driving Permit, or,

·         Country of Origin License

·         Country of Origin License
Requirements Bring a copy of your:

  • Hardcopy IDP or License,
  • Hardcopy Passport,
  • Hardcopy Visa (just in case!)
Bring a copy of:

  • Photocopy & Hardcopy of Driver License
  • Photocopy & Hardcopy of Visa
  • Photocopy & Hardcopy of Passport

If you have <15 days left on your visa you will also require: 2 Passport Photo’s

Foreign Language If your license if in a language other than English you will have to get it translated by a sworn translator, preferably at your own country embassy. If your license if in a language other than English you will have to get it translated by a sworn translator, preferably at your own country embassy.
Outcomes 1yr Driving License (as per the period of validity left on your IDP)

**able to drive vehicles as specified within your IDP

Temporary Driving License

variable length – for the duration of your visa (maximum 6 month)

**able to drive vehicles as indicated on your license

Cost LKR 6000

Extra 300LKR if you want the AAC to print your passport size photo as well.

LKR 1000/month approx
Location Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC)

Link to google map

Department of Motor Traffic (BORALESGAMUWA office)

Link to google map

1) With an international driving permit (IDP)

An international driving permit is often obtained from automobile companies in your home country, and looks similar to the one shown in the following picture.

Example International Driving Permit

If you have an international driving permit you can obtain a 1yr driving license in Sri Lanka by presenting the following to the Automobile Association of Ceylon located in Colombo (link to google map).

You will need the following:

  1. LKR 6000 ($26 USD approx, exchange rates fluctuating!)
  2. International Driving Permit (IDP) or National Country Licence
  3. Bring your: Passport, drivers license and visa just in case!

The permit will allow you to drive vehicles as listed on your IDP, and within the surrounding documentation as provided by your IDP.

Don’t have an IDP?

If you’re still in your home-country, you should apply at your local motoring agency for an IDP.

If you have already left your home country you can use this alternative:

  • https://www.idlservice.com/

We found that this is the only IDP which is issued by an online agent which is accepted by the AAC in Sri Lanka!

Driving MOTORCYCLES:

If you are able to drive a motorcycle in your own country, it will be listed and covered under the IDP as “Type A”.

Driving SCOOTERS:

To drive a scooter in Sri Lanka, you need to have a motorcycle licence in your own country. Scooters are often more than 100cc and is then classified as a motorcycle. With a regular car licence, you can however drive a moped (max 49.99CC).

Driving TUKTUKS:

If you have an IDP or your own country license that has an endorsement for cars (Type B), the AAC will write “3WHEEL” specifically onto you license. Just remember to ask if you go in and do it yourself! In other countries this is covered under Type A, and the IDP even states “three wheel” under Type A… we know. The Automobile Association of Ceylon gives a tuktuk license if you have a Type B (car) endorsement.

TukTuk Letter from the Automobile Association of Ceylon

TukTuk Letter from the Automobile Association of Ceylon

2) With a Normal Driving License

If you have your normal country specific driving license, you can get a license to drive in Sri Lanka at either the Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) or at the Department of Motor Traffic (DMT). The process for the AAC is the same as mentioned above for the IDP, please follow the instruction above but replace IDP with “your regular license”. 

If you would prefer to get a cheaper license you can get a license for up to 6 months from the DMT, depending on your visa length. This option will take around 30 minutes after you get to the DMT, but the traffic and distance from Colombo means it will take minimum 3 hours overall, and can take up to a full day depending on how busy it is. Please note the DMT does not issue a licence to drive a tuktuk! 

You will need to following:

  1. LKR 1000 ($7 USD approx)
  2. Photocopy & Hardcopy of Driver License
  3. Photocopy & Hardcopy of Visa
  4. Photocopy & Hardcopy of Passport
  5. If you have <15 days on your visa, you will also require 2 passport size photographs!

Note: if you forget the photocopies there is a photocopy centre outside!

You will get:

When you go to get a temporary driving permit from the department, you will receive a license that gives you permission to drive vehicles IDENTICAL to your existing license. So if you have a “car” license you will be able to drive a car, and if you have a “motorcycle” license you will be able to drive a motorcycle etc…

MOTORCYCLE License:

To drive a motorcycle you need a specific A type license on your national license to get approval (see section 3 for further information).

TUKTUK License:

Unfortunately at the DMT you cannot get a license to drive a tuktuk. The only way is with an IDP and through the AAC.

We have been in discussions with the Department of Motor Traffic since December 2016 to clarify the laws surrounding foreigners driving tuktuks in Sri Lanka, and for them to update their requirements to match the Geneva and Vienna conventions on Road Traffic, of which Sri Lanka is a signatory country. It’s common for countries to include the three wheel license (Type B1) in either the CAR license or the MOTORCYCLE license, however, the DMT will not issue the Type B1 permit. You can see the problem here… We have been in discussions with the DMT including the head commissioner since December 2016, and after 7 months and over 50 visits, in July 2017 we were issued a letter outlining that people with Type B (car) license can drive a tuktuk provided they pass a practical exam (this is similar to the AAC requirement, above). Although the letter has been issued (see it attached below), the logistics of this actually happening have still not been sorted out and we are still waiting patiently for this this option to come through (as of June 2019, still waiting). For the most up-to-date information here you will have to email us directly on info@tuktukrental.com

Letter from Department of Motor Traffic

Letter from Department of Motor Traffic

LOCATION [IMPORTANT]:

There are two different Department of Motor Traffic (DMT) offices in Colombo. One is in the city itself, and the larger one (the one you NEED) is located in BORALESGAMUWA – link to google map. As shown on the following map, it is located inland of Mt Lavinia, in South Colombo.

Department of Motor Traffic Colombo (the right one!!)

In the Department of Motor Traffic:

(1) >15 days to 6 months on Visa (most people should fit this category!)

You will need to head to counter H, which is located near the back of the centre. Walk past all of the people doing their driving tests and waiting for their medical, and through another security gate. There is a specific counter for Temporary Driving Licenses for foreigners, counter 1, and the wait shouldn’t be too long because of this.

You will have to fill out the application form they provide you, hand over your documentation (license, visa etc) and the whole process takes about 15 minutes.

(2) <15 days on Visa

If you have a visa with less than 15 days remaining, you can still obtain a temporary driving license though you will need to go to counter 39, which is outside section H. It might be easier to go to counter H first, and then be redirected.

The application form:

Temporary Driving Permit Application Form (Sri Lanka)

3) Vehicular Types and Permits

The following image presents is a list of vehicular permits for Sri Lanka.

List of vehicle types and associated licenses for Sri Lanka.

111 Comments

  • Andrew29 June, 2017 - Reply

    Hi, I’m Andrew. I’ll be heading to Sri Lanka on 15-26 July 2017 and I’m planning to rent a motorcycle. I saw your guides on getting a permit to ride there. I personally have both my own country’s license and IDP. From your guide, option 2 is cheaper than option 1. But i read that option 2 actually is quite time consuming and may need to offer bribes to the Dept of Motor Traffic officers. So is option 1 more recommended, although it’s slightly more expensive, less hassle?

    • richardmckeon30 June, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your question! Despite what you might here, you shouldn’t have to (nor should you) pay a bribe to get your local driving permit. If you do have an IDP already, then yes, option 1 will be easier.

      Happy travels!

      • Tom Cornish12 July, 2017 - Reply

        Hey Andrew, option 2 is definitely cheaper. You don’t however have to pay any bribes it’s really straight forward. The only issue is the office is a bit far out of Colombo but I imagine you could do it in <3 hours from when you leave Colombo to when you get back -- HIGHLY dependent upon traffic. If you have a motorcycle license on your regular driver license they will issue you a motorcycle license. Thanks, Tom.

  • Andrew12 July, 2017 - Reply

    Hi Richard, thanks for the reply. If I were to choose option 1, can i get the relevant document ready on the same day from the AA of Ceylon?

    • Tom Cornish12 July, 2017 - Reply

      Hey Andrew, thanks for the question! Yes you can get it on the same day. Just bring the copy of your IDP into the AAC and they will issue it. We usually get this sorted for our customers before they arrive (though I note you are going the motorcycle option). It takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 1hr depending on how busy it is! Good luck and we hope you enjoy your trip around Sri Lanka! Thanks, Tom.

  • Alberto16 August, 2017 - Reply

    Hello!
    My home-country driving license is just for car (type B). Could I apply option 2 ?
    Thanks.

    • Tom Cornish20 August, 2017 - Reply

      Hey Alberto, thanks for asking! If you have a car license (type B), you can get a car license to drive a CAR in Sri Lanka if you do option 2 – which is going to the Department of Motor Transport (DMT). If you have “Type B1” specifically on your license you can get a tuktuk license from the DMT. We are in discussions with them currently and in the near future (Sri Lankan time, fingers crossed), we will be able to take you to do a practical exam at the DMT if you have a car license, and get you a tuktuk license. If you only have Type B currently and want a tuktuk license, you will first need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) from your local motoring agency and then get this upgraded at the Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) when you get in country. Trust this helps!! 🙂

  • Anubhav Raikar1 September, 2017 - Reply

    thanks man.. going to Lanka right now 😀

  • Henry13 September, 2017 - Reply

    hello
    we are looking at picking up a tuk tuk in Ella. We will have an IDP before coming over, however will not be in Columbo to visit the AAC. Will the first option allow us to have the Sri Lankan license before we arrive and pick it up in Ella?
    Thanks for your help
    Henry

    • richardmckeon16 September, 2017 - Reply

      Hey Henry,

      Absolutely. If you book with us, we’ll organise your licence before you arrive and deliver it to Ella with your tuktuk!

      Thanks for the question 🙂

  • Hermann Kahagalle22 September, 2017 - Reply

    Some has said Sri Lanka Motor Traffic Department as efficient as it can be. Last year I was in Sri Lanka without the IDP and the car rental agency sent me with their driver to Werahara to get this permit. It took me the whole day, file getting from one officer to the other. Then the lunch break came and most of them had gone on a staggered arrangement. So when you got one signature, I have to wait for the guy who has gone for lunch. When he comes the other one is missing. However, I was wasting my time from 9:30 until 2:30 when I got the paper. Of course travelling to Werahara is another 2 hours up and down. So if you are travelling to Colombo from overseas without harping about a few rupees get your IDP before you travel.

  • Shree4 October, 2017 - Reply

    Hi I am Shree from India, I have an IDP and Driving License issued in India. I heard that people of SAARC countries need not get AAC endorsement on their IDP. Is it true? or getting AAC endorsement on IDP is mandatory to ride in Sri lanka..? I will be visiting Sri Lanka for only 9 days. Please help me. Thanks in advance !

    • Hermann5 October, 2017 - Reply

      Sri, If you have an IDP from India just go to Automobile Association of Sri Lanka near Galle Face and get the authorization In 10 minutes. Take your passport also with you just in case to prove your visit is valid.

      • Антон11 December, 2019 - Reply

        Привет! Могу ли получить временные права на машину в аэропорту Коломбо?

        • Wietse Sennema11 December, 2019 - Reply

          К сожалению, нет, вы можете получить лицензию только в Коломбо или через компанию по прокату.

  • Flaw6 November, 2017 - Reply

    Hi, guys
    My home-country driving license is just for car (Type B), but I have an IDP with both Type B and Type B1 categories verified. Do I still need authorization from Department of Motor Traffic or AASC? Thanks

    • richardmckeon7 November, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Flaw,

      Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that requires all foreign drivers to have local endorsement. Fortunately, having an IDP is by far the easiest way to make this happen. Happy travels in Sri Lanka!

  • hassan10 November, 2017 - Reply

    Hi
    So as per the above Srilankans too should obtain the IDP in local before proceeding to a foreign country?

    • richardmckeon25 November, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Hassan,

      No, it’s just for foreigners wanting to drive in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan’s driving abroad will need to follow the local laws in that country.

      Cheers,
      Richard

  • T K Thomas4 December, 2017 - Reply

    Is it possible for u to obtain the Sri Lankan driving permit in advance and deliver it to me along with car if I book a car for a week with u and send u the IDP obtained from India on 11th of this month….if so let me know at the earliest…..
    Thanks

    • Wietse Sennema16 December, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Thomas,
      Our apologies for the late reply, we have been busy with the Tuktuk Tournament so a bit behind on replying on our posts. But we can get you a Sri Lankan driving permit in advance if you send us a copy of your IDP.
      Feel free to send us an email if you have any more questions!

  • John Massey14 December, 2017 - Reply

    Hi

    I am living in India without a international driving license just about to travel to Sri Lanka. I am there only 10 days and have already paid the hire car company to rent a car. it was just by chance that I saw you needed a permit, which you don’t need in India. Would it be possible to get an international licence from the UK sent here within a week of travel. Because I don’t think option 2 is an option with that amount of travelling to get a permit. I could just cancel the car and hire a driver. Please help.

    Kind Regards

    John

    • Wietse Sennema16 December, 2017 - Reply

      Hi John,
      Not sure if the UK issues IDL and sends it overseas. But check out this website which could be of help: https://idaoffice.org. You will still need to get the permit after you receive the IDL.
      Kind regards,
      Wietse
      Tuktuk Rental

    • Sanj W7 May, 2022 - Reply

      Hi Wietse
      Thanks for your response.
      Just to add an answer to my own question about getting the permit to drive at the DMT Sri Lanka using your foreign drivers license.
      I got my temporary license again at the DMT for the princely sum of 1000 rupees a couple of days ago.
      Although since 2021 there is an appointment system via the DMT website or via telephone for Sri Lankans visiting the DMT. But as a foreigner You can just show the passport, tel the guards what you are here for and they will let you in.

      • Wietse Sennema9 May, 2022 - Reply

        That’s great, thanks for sharing. Just to double check as I have not been there in a while, the DMT licence still doesn’t endorse you to drive a tuktuk/3wheel correct?

  • Jurgen13 January, 2018 - Reply

    Hoi Wietse,

    can I ask you: I heard it is possible to get a SL driver License at the airport (when arriving).

    Do you know that and if so, where to do it and is the ‘2-option’ (regular driving lic change to SL license) possible there?

    Thank you!

    • Wietse Sennema15 January, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Jurgen, we have heard that too. Read it in the newspaper even, but in reality these messages never keep up with what is happening or is actually possible. So you are free to try of course, please let us know haha 🙂

  • Nina Orlova14 January, 2018 - Reply

    Hello, I am a little confused – in official website of DMT are conditions to Conversion of Foreign License. There’s written that you need a Medical fitness certificate obtained from the National Transport Medical Institute, within a period of six months. What is it? Do I really need it? 2nd question – I have license for A1, B and B1 in Czech republic. I am planning to travel around the whole Srí lanka. What’s the best choice to rent? I was thinking about motorcycle, but then I found your web with tuktuks. I am a little afraid that tuktuk can’t get everywhere – especially in the mountains…What do you think?

    • Wietse Sennema15 January, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Nina, thanks for your message. If you can send us an email with your questions, we can answer all your questions specifically there.

  • peceng2 February, 2018 - Reply

    can apply online?

    • Wietse Sennema12 February, 2018 - Reply

      Not for the license. However when renting a tuktuk we can have your license ready on arrival!

  • TJ29 March, 2018 - Reply

    Hello,

    I want to drive legally in Sri Lanka. I have an IDP from the US. I am currently in the Galle area and do not want to make a trip back to Colombo just for this. Is there a way to obtain the permit down South?

    Thanks!

    • Wietse Sennema5 April, 2018 - Reply

      When you rent a tuktuk from us, the driving instructor will take your Sri Lankan license with them down to Galle.

      • Hermann5 April, 2018 - Reply

        What are talking. Colombo is only 1 hour away. Only authority to certify your IDP is SLAA. Once they certify you could walk into any rental agency and rent a car. Mind you rental price does include insurance. Compared to US it is a steal in Sri Lanka.

  • Hermann6 April, 2018 - Reply

    Last December when I was in Sri Lanka I was at a rental place to rent a car. He read my IDP and said Sri Lanka is included in the driving permit and I do not need any other documents. First see whether your IDP covers Sri Lanka in the list of countries listed. Then you do not need any other documents.

    • Wietse Sennema8 April, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Hermann, unfortunately in Sri Lanka you need to have your license certified by the AAC, this by law and more importantly for the insurance! Only an IDP is not enough. Please let us know if you have any more questions. Cheers, Wietse

  • Hannah13 April, 2018 - Reply

    Hello, I’m planning on staying in Sri Lanka for 6 months. Having travelled there before I’ve always had problems with driving license. I have an IDP but I don’t actually have a motorbike license which is what I tend to use when I’m there. Do you know of any options for foreigners to get a bike license in Sri Lanka? Any help much appreciated!

    • Wietse Sennema20 April, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Hannah, in order to receive a bike license you should have the motorbike endorsement on your IDP too. What you could do is contact the Department of Motor Traffic or better go visit them (government offices and phones do not really work here). They can tell you all about it and issue temporary driving licenses to foreign nationals. Cheers, Wietse

  • Jenny17 April, 2018 - Reply

    Hi Wietse,
    I moved from Germany to Sri Lanka and have a residence visa now. I don’t have an IDP, just my normal German driving licence. How can I get a local driving licence permamently, what does it require? It seems, from what I have read so far and heard from friends, that it is very easy to get the driving licence translated but it seems complicated to get a permanent one. Thank you!

  • Jamie3 May, 2018 - Reply

    A friend and I are travelling to Sri Lanka. I have a full licence and intend to get this endorsed for legal driving. My friend however, does not have a full licence. A) Is there anything that can be done to get around presenting a licence that he does not have? B) What is the recourse for driving without the correct paperwork? Thanks

    • Wietse Sennema22 May, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Jamie, sorry for the late reply. Unfortunately in order to get the permit, you do need a licence. Driving around without the proper paperwork will result in fines and not being able to continue your journey.

      • Sanj5 May, 2022 - Reply

        Thanks for your reply,
        Just to clarify part of my comment/ question above was whether I can just get the recognition certificate from the Ceylon AA issued with just my UK full driving license without needing to also have an IDP with me.
        Further to this I have arrived in Sri Lanka and people I know SL have said that DMT has an appointment system and you can’t just turn up in the morning as I have done in the past to get a temporary permit from the DMT by showing my UK drivers license and other documents as you have explained here. I tried to book an appointment online on DMT website and it asks for the NIC number (national identity card). Tried entering my UK passport number instead and it just won’t accept it. Not sure what to do. It’s a long way to travel to Werahera to be refused entry without an appointment. Especially with the difficulty of obtaining petrol these days. I’m here in the country for under 15 days. Do you know if it is necessary to somehow get an appointment at the DMT for this purpose? And if so how to pass the first field on online form as I have no NIC? Thanks

        • Wietse Sennema6 May, 2022 - Reply

          Hi Sanj, you can get the AAC Permit with just your UK licence. Regarding DMT, I am not 100% certain how it is these days (semi-covid situation) but I know there is a special counter for tourists/foreigners (no appointment needed) to which you can just rock up and get your licence sorted. Cheers, Wietse

  • BEATRIZ GALAN DOMINGO3 August, 2018 - Reply

    Hello, please, could you help me?
    I arrived to Sri Lanka one year ago and I’ll stay here for a while.
    I’ve my spanish driving licence B and also the IDP. I’d like to drive a tuk, tuk here.
    What shall I do? What’s the easiest procediment and what’s the cheapest? I’ve residence VISA.

    Thank you very much

    • richardmckeon5 August, 2018 - Reply

      Hey Beartiz,
      The easiest way is to take your licence to the AAC. See section above “If you have an IDP that has an endorsement for cars (Type B), the AAC will write “3WHEEL” specifically onto you license. Just remember to ask if you go in and do it yourself! In other countries this is covered under Type A, and the IDP even states “three wheel” under Type A… I know. The Automobile Association of Ceylon gives a tuktuk license if you have a Type B (car) endorsement.”

      Happy driving! Make sure to stop by our office in Mt Lavinia to say hello!

  • Sana7 August, 2018 - Reply

    If I can get IDP from UK and send a copy to you, would you be able to get me a license for when I arrive in December?

    Many Thanks,

    Sana

  • Timothy Postlethwaite10 August, 2018 - Reply

    Hi, I have a UK Full motorcycle licence (including anything with 3 wheels). Is it true then that I can’t get a tuktuk licence in Sri Lanka despite being legally qualified to drive one everywhere else. This is important for me since I will be living here for at least a year on a working residence permit and need a vehicle to go surfing. Since they put the stupid ban on motorcycle board racks it’s either a 3wheeler or just riding a bike with my board bag over my shoulder (not ideal)….

  • richardmckeon12 August, 2018 - Reply

    Hey Timothy,
    You can’t drive any vehicle in Sri Lanka without a local endorsement. You will be able to drive a tuktuk, you just need to make sure you get the right endorsement. Read the article above for your options on how to do it.

    • Hermann Kahagalle12 August, 2018 - Reply

      Please do not leave your own country without IDP. If your IDP have an endorsement to cover Sri Lanka you do not need any more endorsements.

  • Smith13 December, 2018 - Reply

    I am a British, holder of British driving licence and have airplane also.

    Still I need to endorse in Srilanka, before drive?

  • Kjell Johansson2 January, 2019 - Reply

    Hi I am from sweden and we are now in Tissamaharama for a few days have a dpi from Sweden and would like to rent a tuk tuk it is possible to arrange a permit without returning to Colombo in any way.?stays here till saturday. And in Sri Lanka until January 23 Greetings Kjell

    • Wietse Sennema9 January, 2019 - Reply

      Yes, this is possible! Once you make a booking through our system, you will receive a link to upload your documents. The driving instructor will then drive the tuktuk to Tissa together with your licence 🙂

  • chaitanya3 January, 2019 - Reply

    HI,
    I am arriving to colombo on friday night, and would like to apply for temporary driving license.
    But since the departments will be closed, can it be done through any agents?? if so, whom should i contact?

    • Wietse Sennema9 January, 2019 - Reply

      Don’t know of any agents, sorry. What you can do, is book a tuktuk and we will arrange the licence for you!

  • Christine30 January, 2019 - Reply

    Hey guys,
    big compliment for all your replies above. Really helping people out here.
    As far as I could see, my question hasn’t been ask, but if so – please excuse the repetition:
    I already have my IDP. Do you think it would be possible if a friend of mine (who already is in Sri Lanka before) could take the hardcopy of my IDP, a copy of my passport (since I will only arrive with my hardcopy) and a copy of my visa? Will the agents be willing to give the permit if she has ‘only’ a copy of my passport. I could also give her my national passport as an assurance.
    Happy to hear from you.

    • Wietse Sennema30 January, 2019 - Reply

      Good question and it is possible! Your friend will need to bring:
      – Copy IDP
      – Copy passport
      – Copy of passport size photograph of your face (can be on a USB)

      • Christine31 January, 2019 - Reply

        Perfect! This makes life so much more easier. Thank you for your oh so quick reply. You guys rock!

  • JP26 February, 2019 - Reply

    Hi, does anyone have experience with getting an IDL online and being accepted / recognized by the Sri Lankan authorities? Getting an IDL in my country is prohibitively expensive and I’m very tempted by the online option but I wouldn’t want to throw money away. Thanks!

  • Ashkar27 March, 2019 - Reply

    I don’t have the srilankan license though I’m a srilankan but I do have the u.a.e automatic driving license . Is it possible to exchange with permanent srilankan manual and auto license?

    • Wietse Sennema27 March, 2019 - Reply

      Hi Ashkar, I would advise getting an International Driving Permit from UAE. Which you then can use to get your temporary Sri Lankan driving permit.

  • elyssa13 May, 2019 - Reply

    Hello! I am in Colombo now and plan on heading to the office to get my international driving permit endorsed – is it possible to do this for another person as well or do myself and the person I am traveling with both need to be present? We are hoping to not both have to go and only 1 person head to the office to get both IDPs endorsed.

    • Wietse Sennema14 May, 2019 - Reply

      Hi Elyssa, yes this is possible. Make sure you have a copy of there passport, IDP and passport-size photograph of their face.

  • Heather30 May, 2019 - Reply

    Thanks for all this amazing info! I’m wondering if Sri Lanka makes any distinction between scooters and motorcycles. My home country license (Canada) is valid for cars and scooters, but not motorcycles. I was thinking of trying to get a temporary Sri Lankan license in order to legally drive a scooter here, but I’m not sure if that would even help if I don’t have a motorcycle endorsement. Any insight would be much appreciated – thanks!

    • Wietse Sennema3 June, 2019 - Reply

      Hi Heather, Sri Lanka does make a distinction between scooters and motorbikes. When you have a moped and car licence, you are able to drive a moped, car and even a tuktuk in Sri Lanka. When getting the permit from the AAC, just mention that you will be driving a scooter.

  • jürgen26 June, 2019 - Reply

    For the translation of my german driving license I contacted the german embassy and they told me that I must go to a sworn translator; a list of them is on the webside from the embassy.
    The embassy self does not translate any paperwork.
    With that translation , my driving license and passport I
    were going to the Department of Motor Traffic, Werahera, Katuwawala Boralasgamuwa yesterday round 11:00.
    But in building H counter 01 were this paper refused: I should be from the german embassy.
    That is for me absolut unacceptable, I came with all paper how the german embassy mentioned , spend a lot of money for translation and travel from another city to Colombo and my applying was refused.

    • Tom Cornish26 June, 2019 - Reply

      Hey Jurgen, sorry to hear that… It sounds like you did all of the right things and they still didn’t accept the license – terrible! I agree with you it’s not acceptable! Unfortunately these things do still happen in Sri Lanka, it’s very unpredictable and depends on which person you see!

      I don’t know what valid argument they used to not give you the license! So sorry for your troubles. Was there anyone at the German Embassy that could back you up that they don’t provide a translation?

      If you are still in Colombo you can take your license to the AAC (more expensive) and get a temporary permit still. It costs LKR 4400. They have recently started accepting national licenses from different countries (as well as IDPs). Is this an option for you? If you have troubles with the translation here please call our office directly while you are at the AAC and we can help you. I’ve spoken to them before and they have agreed that a “sworn translator” should suffice.

      Thanks, Tom.

  • Sidu25 September, 2019 - Reply

    Hi, Im a Sri lanka having UAE driving license and IDP, Me and my Indian friend( also having IDP) want to self drive in Sri Lanka. What we can do now? I prefer whatever document we need to obtain we want before we arrive in Sri Lanka. From Airport we need Car. What is the possible way we can do? Pls advise

    • Wietse Sennema25 September, 2019 - Reply

      If you have an IDP, you can go to the AAC and apply for a Recognition Permit there. However, I am not sure how it works if you are Sri Lankan. Do you have a Sri Lankan licence as well?

  • Sidu26 September, 2019 - Reply

    Thank you for your reply, I don’t have Sri Lankan license. Can we apply for recognition permit by online? If yes can we have the link. It will be really helpful.

    • Wietse Sennema26 September, 2019 - Reply

      Unfortunately not, the only way to get this permit is at the Automobile Association of Ceylon. Another option is to try through your rental agency, they will get this beforehand and have it ready on arrival.

  • kuj4 October, 2019 - Reply

    i have licence in north america. I was told I need to validate my licence to drive a car in sri lanka. can I do it at the airport upon arrival? how do I go about that? thank you.

    • Wietse Sennema6 October, 2019 - Reply

      In order to drive in Sri Lanka, you need to get a Sri Lankan Recognition Permit. This you can get through the company you rent your car with, or yourself at the Automobile Association of Ceylon which takes a couple of hours.

  • Karan27 October, 2019 - Reply

    Hi,
    I have a Canadian driving license and I’m in india now and planing to visit srilanka in a month. I want to rent a car there and drive by my self. What is the process for it?

    • Wietse Sennema29 October, 2019 - Reply

      The process will be to get a Sri Lankan Driving Permit with your national Canadian licence!

  • Alex Lewis29 October, 2019 - Reply

    Hi I am travelling to Sri Lanka in November from Australia and am looking to drive either a scooter or tuktuk (undecided, will decide once there). I have a car licence (not motorbike) and under IDP, class B only. I have read through previous questions and just want to clarify that if I go to ACC they will grant permission to drive tuktuk and scooter. Also can I send my documentation to someone else living in sri lanka and get them to get the permit on my behalf?
    Thanks

    • Wietse Sennema29 October, 2019 - Reply

      Hi Alex, almost correct. To drive a tuktuk, your class B is enough. However, to drive a scooter in Sri Lanka, you need to have class A (motorbike). Cheers, Wietse

  • Darshana Dias25 December, 2019 - Reply

    I’m Sri lankan and currently working in Maldives. I want to take Bike,and car driving license of Sri lanka urgently on next month when I’m coming back to Sri lanka for 07days vacation.
    As far as I know to get Sri lankan driving , we need to do the theory test and after getting temporary license we have to wait for 03 month for practice to get the license.
    Since this process take 03 month , i’m thinking to get the Maldives driving license now and using that I like to apply for Sri lankan driving license .
    Please assist me on this .

    • Wietse Sennema26 December, 2019 - Reply

      The quickest way would be to get your Maldive normal or international driving licence, with that going to the Automobile Association of Ceylon and getting your temporary Sri Lankan licence with that.

  • LUKASZ2 January, 2020 - Reply

    Hello, I will be on Sri Lanka in February on Sunday. I have a driving license and IDL from United Kingdom and I would like to rent a scooter so can I apply online for permit? because Department of Motor Traffic will be closed on Sunday ? is there any other option?

    • Wietse Sennema3 January, 2020 - Reply

      Hi Lukasz, unfortunately, you cannot apply online for the permit unless it’s through a company that you arrange your vehicle through. They can get it for you prior arrival. Please do note, a scooter falls under the motorcycle category in Sri Lanka, so you will only be allowed to drive one if you have a motorcycle licence. Also FYI, the Department of Motor Traffic, does not issue permits to drive a tuktuk.

  • LUKASZ4 January, 2020 - Reply

    Hi again so do i need IDP for scooter? or i can drive scooter with only IDL for motorbike?
    Thanks
    Lukasz

    • Wietse Sennema30 January, 2021 - Reply

      Sorry been a while 😅 To drive a scooter in Sri Lanka you need to have 1) Sri Lankan Recognition Permit and 2) an International or National Drivers Licences which allows you to drive a motorbike.

  • Mohamed13 May, 2021 - Reply

    Hey,
    My question is- i am Sri Lankan, i have SL DL but i am working in abroad, i would like to get IDP can you please provide me an easy way to get it.

    Thanks

    • Wietse Sennema7 October, 2021 - Reply

      Hi Mohamed, if you want to get an IDP with your Sri Lankan Driving Licence. You can get this through the Automobile Association of Ceylon in Colombo!

  • andrew john hadfield13 January, 2022 - Reply

    Hi we are over for a month to Hikkaduwa and want to rent a scooter where is the closest place to get permission to drive there, I have my British driving license and a International driving license
    Thanks

    • Wietse Sennema15 January, 2022 - Reply

      Hi Andrew, the closest and only place is in Colombo at the Automobile Association of Ceylon. Do note, in order to drive a scooter here you need to have a motorcycle licence from your home country!

  • Belinda17 January, 2022 - Reply

    We live in Singapore. We booked a car from Europcar for self-driving in Sri Lanka for 15 days. We hold international driving permit. Do we need the Local license? If we need the local license, does the preparation and application of local license need to be done in advance before we arrive? What documents that we need to submit in advance?

    • Wietse Sennema17 January, 2022 - Reply

      Hi Belinda, in order to drive legally and insured in Sri Lanka you need to have a Sri Lankan Recognition Permit. Your rental agency should arrange this for you in advance.

  • Mert31 January, 2022 - Reply

    hello! thanks for all the information, very useful! One thing I’m curious, we are coming from Spain and we have normal driving license (which has the information in English on it as well) is there any car rental agency that could help with the whole process and provide us the temporary driving license?

    • Tom Cornish2 February, 2022 - Reply

      Hey Mert – we are not a car rental agency but we can help you with this if you like. We already complete so many licenses that adding another isn’t overly difficult. If you could please send an email to hello@tuktukrental.com and we can take you through the licensing process so everything is done before you arrive. We then ask that you please visit our office (during office hours) when you arrive. We are conveniently located 5 minutes from the airport.

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  • Wouter25 March, 2022 - Reply

    Thanks for the info on your website. I am a Dutch national living in Pakistan. I am visiting Sri Lanka in June. I have a Dutch driving license but can’t get an IDP (because for that I need to go to the Netherlands). Have I understood correctly that, even without an IDP, I can get my non- Sri Lankan driving license verified at AAC? What would the benefit of an IDP be? Any experience with just a Dutch driving license (no IDP)? Thanks a lot!

    • Wietse Sennema4 May, 2022 - Reply

      Hi Wouter, sorry for the late reply. Your regular Dutch driving licence is enough to get the permit from the AAC.

  • Sanj30 April, 2022 - Reply

    Very useful site, and thanks for all the info. I am a regular visitor from UK, but go to DMT everytime as it is cheaper and feel AA is extortionate for just giving a piece of paper to say the IDP is recognised in Sri Lanka. I have done the AA route only once and definitely that is much quicker. But as the previous poster (Wouter) asked I was also a bit confused reading the information above, whether you really need an IDP from your own country to get the recognition certificate from the AA Ceylon, or will they just certify my UK driving license. Not at all a criticism of your webpage, it is really great, but felt a little confused about that bit.

    • Wietse Sennema4 May, 2022 - Reply

      Like many things on the island, this is also very confusing and it may seem extortionate. As a rental agency, we’ve done extensive research into this. But under the Motor Car (Convention) Ordinance No.25 of 1932 as amended by Ordinance No.26 of 1935, you have to obtain a Sri Lankan Recognition Permit from the Automobile Association of Ceylon on face value of your International Driving Permit or your National Country Driving Licence to drive in Sri Lanka. Therefore a person driving in Sri Lanka should carry with him the original National Country Driving Licence or if they have the International Driving Licence along with the Sri Lankan Recognition Permit issued by the Automobile Association of Ceylon. In the absence of these documents, the police can prosecute you and in case of an accident, you may be deprived of the insurance claim.

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