Can I drive a Tanzanian vehicle to Kenya?
This might seem an odd question, why should that not be possible? Well, there are trade barriers to protect each country’s tourism industry. Hence, all vehicles made for safari are supposed to be used in the same country registered.
There are 3 things that you need to take into account if you want to visit Kenya with your Tanzania registered vehicle:
It is not possible to cross the border via the Serengeti to Masai Mara. You have to drive around the parks, using the Namanga or Isabania border or Loitoktok border which is the shortest route coming from Moshi and the Kilimanjaro.
The Tanzania authorities require that you leave the logbook behind at the border. Hence, you need to return to Tanzania taking the same border.
The parks under the management of the Kenyan Wildlife Services only allow Tanzanian registered vehicles to enter, when it concerns self-drive and if considered ”private use”. These are Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Land Cruiser Double Cab. The Land cruiser Hardtop six-seater with the pop-up roof is classified as a ”tour” vehicle, and not allowed entrance in any of the National Parks of Kenya Wildlife Service.
Customs on the road
As you’ll quickly find out, cars in Tanzania and Kenya drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Most roads are reasonably maintained, but we strongly recommend you don’t travel in the dark. Hidden potholes, livestock, and even people crossing the road can be the cause of accidents, flat tires and in some cases damaged vehicles.
Be prepared for the unexpected and do not make assumptions that all drivers will adhere to the rules of the road. This is particularly true for people movers, local taxis, buses, and many heavy goods vehicles where the size of vehicle may be used to dominate a situation.
For driving on public roads:
Kenya accepts a valid driving license from your country of residence and does not require additional documents if you have held your license for a minimum of 2 years. That said, it’s always best to get an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) if you want to drive in East Africa to avoid problems.
Tanzania requires that you have an IDP with you at all times. If you decide to forgo the IDP and use only your license, you will need to have it endorsed for an extra fee.
Zanzibar requires a special, locally obtained driving permit. Costing $10 USD, this will be arranged for you by your car hire company who will need a copy of your own license OR your International Driving Permit. Your car hire company will contact you in advance to sort this out.
National Parks: all National Parks require vehicle drivers and their passengers to have purchased entry tickets at the gate using their credit card (cash and debit cards are not accepted).
Make sure you always have at least 2 methods of national identity such as your driver’s license and your passport. At all times you should carry your license, permits, hire paperwork (including insurance papers), and passports on your person.
However one should also consider the correct vehicle selection when traveling from Tanzania to Kenya
It is vital that you select the right vehicle for what you will be using it for, and where you will be traveling.
Because of the adverse road conditions, often worsened by heavy rains, we suggest a suitable 4×4 for all self-driving tours outside of the cities. The size of 4×4 to choose from depends on the number in your party. For 2 people with luggage, a smaller 3 or 5 door is adequate; for any more than 2 pax, a larger 4×4 such as a Land Cruiser, Toyota Prado, or the bigger Mitsubishi is recommended.
If you plan on sticking to the city areas and main highways, there are a number of sedans from which to choose. However, be mindful of some of the poor road conditions within the city limits.
What to do when stopped by police
Road police in Tanzania and Kenya often stop vehicles to perform checks. It’s usually easy to spot them from far away, and they are generally set up at major intersections. The traffic police officers will check your car’s insurance, the tires, and if you have a fire extinguisher, traffic triangles, and a stocked first aid kit. There’s no need to worry if you are driving a rental car as all requirements are checked out and confirmed by the rental company before you head out.
The general rule of thumb is to be patient and friendly with the police. Have your driver’s license ready to show, and you’ll be on your way shortly. If you did commit a traffic offense, you’ll have to pay a fine either immediately or at the nearest police station (another reason to always keep cash on hand).
If a traffic officer asks for a bribe or suggests you buy them a soda before they let you go on your way, it’s best to use common sense or politely decline. Police bribes are never condoned, and if you’re unsure of what to do, give your rental company a call. They’ll be on hand to chat with the police officer and will help you safely navigate the situation.