Valid Driving Licenses To Rent A Car In Sri Lanka

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Last update: November 1, 2021

Are you a tourist who is planning to go on a road trip to Sri Lanka? Or are planning to stay in Sri Lanka as a long-stay tourist? On both occasions, you might need to rent a car to fulfil your travel needs. To do so, you need to get a valid driving licence. Because it’s the only proof to let others know that you have the necessary qualifications to drive a motor vehicle.

What are the valid Driving Licences in Sri Lanka?

  • International Driving Permit (IDP) plus the local endorsement.
  • Temporary Sri Lankan Driving Licence. (TSDL)
  • Regular Sri Lankan Driving Licence.

Let’s take a short moment and have a look at the above driving licence. You can obtain any of the above licences by yourself by visiting relevant offices.

If you need a hassle-free process to get your driving licence to rent a car in Sri Lanka; SR RENT A CAR can arrange everything and have it ready before you arrive to pick up your vehicle. All you have to do is send the relevant documents for us at least one week in advance.

How to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) Endorsement?

An International Driving Permit (IDP) also known as International Driving Licence (IDL) allows its holder to drive a private motor vehicle outside his/her country. But it’s not accepted in the country which issues the permit. There are three types of IDPs in the world.

  • IDP’s issued under the 1926 convention.
  • IDP’s issued under the 1949 convention.
  • IDP’s issued under the 1968 convention.

Though there are some countries like China where any IDP will not be recognised. Sri Lanka recognised all types of IDPs. But, we are one of the few countries that require you to get your IDP verified (endorsed) by a local authority before you can drive a motor vehicle. The Automobile Association (AA) of Ceylon is the authorised organization to issue endorsements for your IDP. You have to visit the AA office in Colombo and physically submit the following documentation to AA to get the endorsement.

  1. Clear scan copy of your IDP. (front side & inner photo attached page)
  2. Clear scan copy of your passport.
  3. A clear passport-size photograph of yourself.

It’ll take several days to get the endorsement based on the time and date you visit their office.

How to get a Temporary Sri Lankan Driving Licence (TSDL)?

Temporary Sri Lankan Driving Licence (TSDL) can be obtained only for light vehicle categories. A foreigner can get in a TDL without any restrictions other than the vehicle category. As the name “temporary”, this licence is only valid for a short period (one month to six months depending on the vehicle category you required). To obtain a TDL, you have to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Werahara (1h drive from Central Colombo) in person and hand over the following documents.

  1. Clear scan copy of your country licence. (front and back)
  2. Clear scan copy of your passport.
  3. A clear passport-size photograph of yourself.

Though it won’t take very long to get a TDL, the hassle you have to go through may not be worth it if you are in the country for a short holiday.

How to get a Sri Lankan Driving Licence?

Sri Lankan Driving Licence is available to all Sri Lankan residents. (Including dual visa holders) Tourists who are staying for more than six months with their visas can also apply for it. By visiting the DMV head office or any other regional office you can get the licence. But obtaining the licence has a lengthy process and will take several days (maybe weeks) to get it.

If your licence (country licence or the IDP) is in a language other than English, you will have to get it translated by your own country’s embassy or a professional translator (sworn translator) in your country.

We hope now you have a clear knowledge of the Driving Licence a foreigner must have to rent a car in Sri Lanka. If you have more questions, you can contact us through our hotline at +94 777 780 729 (WhatsApp) or email at

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