Hi Ami, How are you? I was wondering if you knew how to drive with international license in Ethiopia? A lot of people ask me, but I have no idea. Do you know where you have to go and the process? Thanks for your help!
The response to my message came a day later.
Honestly my answer is no, I have no clue how to do it. But I assume you would have to get a lot of 100 birr bills if a traffic police stops you and sees you don’t have an Ethiopian license or just start speaking English with a New York accent and he’ll let you go.
So my dear friends, that is the way to go about it if you decide to drive in Ethiopia on your next visit. Ok don’t get too excited, my friend Ami is only kidding. But I used to get that question a lot when I was working for the Ethiopian Consulate in Los Angeles, and I gave the happy tourists with their eager faces a shrug, in my head thinking along the same lines as Ami, just too abashed to voice it.
If you want to drive in Ethiopia, the first thing you have to do is go to the Embassy of the United States in Addis Ababa, and get your American license authenticated. Once you finish there, take the paperwork they give you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located right in front of Hilton Hotel, which will perform translation services for you. The final stage is going to be The Ministry of Road and Transportation (commonly known as Menged Transport), located behind Addis Ababa Stadium, which will give you your gateway to adventure, aka your Ethiopian license! These services charge you some fee. When you read that the locations are lacking street numbers and zip codes, don’t panic. Things don’t work like that in Ethiopia. Almost everyone knows where everything is, or knows someone who does. So don’t be afraid to ask your local taxi drivers or hotel staff. Google is not going to tell you the best restaurants in town. Your resources for information are going to be the people. Enjoy yourself and happy adventures!