For the first three months after arrival, foreign drivers may drive with their foreign driver licenses and International driving permits. After that term, it is required to obtain a Malawian driver license. Any owners of valid International driving permit are exempt from taking a road test. His foreign driver license will be converted into the equivalent code of the Malawian driver license. A foreign driver who doesn't own a valid International driving permit are required to attend a local driving course and then take the driving test. Staff members, who are on fixed-term contracts, and their dependents above 18 years of age have a right to obtain Malawi driver licenses with their valid domestic driver licenses.

The main Malawian road traffic rules:

  • Driving is in the left-hand lane.
  • Overtaking is on the right side of the road. Passing on the left is permitted if the vehicle being passed is turning to its right or a driver gives signal of turning to his right.
  • A driver may not to overpass other vehicle proceeding in the same direction when approaching a curve or the summit of a rise.
  • Seat belts are required for a driver and all passengers.
  • Protective helmets are mandatory for motorcyclistds.
  • The speed limit inside built up areas is 50 km/h (30 mph), outside the built up areas – 80 km/h (50 mph).
  • Vehicles must be insured against either third party liability.
  • Drunk driving is illegal; the permitted blood alcohol limit is 0.08%.
  • The warning triangle must be in each vehicle.
  • At a junction of two or more roads with a traffic island, a driver who intends to enter must yield the right of way to all vehicular traffic approaching from his right within the junction.
  • It is not permitted to stop:
  1. on the right-hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic;
  2. in contravention of any road traffic sign;
  3. within tunnels or subways or on bridges or within six meters of any tunnel, subway, or bridge;
  4. alongside other vehicle on the roadway if roadway is less than nine meters wide;
  5. at a level crossing;
  6. within nine meters of a pedestrian crossing demarcated by appropriate road traffic signs.
  • It is illegal to park vehicle:
  1. on a traffic island and in a pedestrian mall and lane;
  2. one and a half meter on either side of the hydrant;
  3. in  a place where the vehicle would obscure any road traffic sign;
  4. to encroach upon the sidewalk;
  5. on roadways and shoulders of a public road outside an urban areas
  6. within nine meters of a pedestrian crossing demarcated by appropriate road traffic signs;
  7. within five meters of any intersection;
  8. with the outside of any left-hand wheel thereof more than 450 millimeters.
  • It is not permitted to speak on a cellular phone without hands-free device.
  • person pulls off the road.
  • Excluding a person riding in a side-car attached to the motor cycle, only one or two persons may ride upon a motorcycle on a public road.
  • Not more than two persons may be carried in a side-car attached to a motorcycle.
  • Police may remove any vehicle which is left for a continuous period of time more than:
  1. 72 hours in the same place on a public road in an urban area;
  2. 48 hours in the same place on a public road outside an urban area.

Some additional information:

  • In Malawi, all road traffic signs are in English.
  • While driving, drivers must carry their valid driver licenses or certified copies.
  • Speed traps with radar guns are common on Malawian roads.
  • The Malawian police use breathalyzer tests. A traffic police officer has a right to arrest any person without warrant whose result of the breath test exceeds the limit of alcohol concentration or when the person refuses undergo a breath test as specified in subsection.
  • Police officers may do spot checks, for driver licenses, car and insurance certificates, warning triangles, etc. and award fines which payable on the spot. When driving, drivers should carry some cash to avoid having the police confiscate their licenses in lieu of fanes payment.
  • If a foreign driver is involved in an accident in Malawi, he falls under the jurisdiction of the local police, so foreign driver should report to the United Nations security personnel before his call to the Malawian police.
  • Drivers have the right to complaint against a police officer. To do that, a driver must know the officer's name, rank, and number and address of the police duty station.
  • It is recommended:
- to keep doors locked and windows up while driving;
- avoid driving at night;
- keep to main roads;
- always carry a mobile phone;
- have spare tire, jack and spanner in the car;
- do not pick up hitchhikers.

 Driving Overseas - Short Information