Driving a car in Mauritius – What you have to know

Driving a car in Mauritius

Driving a car in Mauritius is NOT the same as driving in other countries. Apart from the roads being very narrow, there are extra local rules that apply here that you are not be used to. Bearing that in mind, you do get used to the Mauritian way very quickly.

Here is a couple of things that we encountered in living in Mauritius for some time now.

Most roads are wide enough for 2 cars to comfortably pass each other, but there is a tendency amongst locals to stop their car abruptly in the middle of the road, jump out and buy something from a store next to the road or to talk to a friend . You are then required to overtake or pass that car ensuring that no cars are coming from the opposite side. Blowing your horn at them, is frowned upon as this is their way of driving here.

The Locals are also accustomed to blowing their car horns when passing you, just to let you know that they are in fact overtaking you. This has been known to trigger road rage in visitors new to Mauritius. I must admit, It had me talking to myself a time or two when I first landed here.

Due to the island being small with many winding roads the drivers will cut in front of your vehicle with little distance between you and him when overtaking. This is not done deliberately but to return to the lane as soon as possible.

General road rules in Mauritius when driving in Mauritius

Cars drive on the left-hand side and priority is given to vehicles coming from the right;

Mauritius has only one motorway. The motorway starts from the International airport in the South East near the International airport of the Island and ends in the North of the Island at Grand Bay. Maximum speed limit is 110 km.

All road signs are of international standards.

Traffic gets heavy and slow during peak hours: 07:30 am – 09:30 am, and 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. During these times there is heavy traffic mainly in Port Louis area and at the entrances/exits of the main cities.

Mauritius now has zero tolerance for drinking and driving. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you will pay a significant fine and may be held in police custody until you are completely sober. The insurance policy also requires you to be 100 % sober.

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, you will really regret that, as there is no sweet-talking police here and bribes are just not acceptable.

Driving a car in Mauritius

Is my South African drivers License valid in Mauritius?

According to Mauritius law, they do accept your valid South African driver’s license for the first 4 weeks and then an International License is required. There has however never been a case where the 4 weeks have been enforced.

The bottom line is yes, you can drive with your normal South African Driver’s license without a problem, but note that if it expires you may run into problems.

Although you can renew your South African license from within Mauritius, the process is quite tedious and may lead to you not having a license for a period of time.

The best option when preparing to come to Mauritius is to go and get a letter from the  South African government that gives you permission to receive an International driver’s license that is valid for an unlimited period of time.

Buying or Renting a Car in Mauritius

Before you make the decision whether you want to rent or buy a vehicle, there a  number of things to consider. But before I get to discussing the pros and cons, I just want to point out that cars in Mauritius are substantially more expensive than in South Africa due to the hefty import tax. You, therefore, need to make sure to get a suitable car that fits your budget and weigh the pros and cons accordingly.

Buying a Car in Mauritius:

Buying a car in Mauritius might sound like the obvious thing to do, but there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Most people coming to Mauritius, leave as quickly as they came after a few years. Selling their car then becomes a problem as they normally do not find a suitable buyer in time and end up selling their car for next to nothing resulting in a big financial loss.
  • The cost paid for renting a vehicle is the same as buying a similar vehicle and paying it with 26 months.
  • It can be somewhat tedious to keep your road tax up to date and that is essential to stay clear of a hefty fine.
  • Servicing your Vehicle needs to be done by a trusted dealer so make sure the guy servicing your vehicle is someone with a good name.
  • It might be worth getting a friend to keep your vehicle for you and sell it to a potential buyer on your behalf.

Renting a Car:

  • Renting a car in Mauritius for long term can be a good option if you do not want to buy or while you are in the process of buying a car.
  • Road tax and service are normally included and a courtesy car is given when your car goes for a service.
  • If your car breaks down, or anything in your car is faulty, another car is supplied to you until your car has been fixed.
  • You are free to upgrade to a newer or bigger model as you need to, this comes in handy when some family visits.
  • There is no loss or urgent sale when you decide to move to another country.

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Driving Offences and what not to do.

Some road traffic offenses carry penalty points together with fines; a GPS device could warn you about known fixed speed camera spots.

Fines are payable depending on the area that you find yourself, there is a deadline to pay, and your fine will in most cases be double if you do not pay in the time specified. You will get a discount if paid within a certain period.

Which is the best GPS/Map app for your phone .

Google Maps is a good candidate. Waze is up to date and does a good job letting you know which roads are better to take to miss traffic on the island. It also warns you of stationary traffic cameras.