There are many similarities that bind us in Barbados to England. After all, we are called 'Little England' for more than one reason that has pertinence to life in England. As per the English way, we also drive on the left hand side of the road. As normal as this may appear to the people of Barbados, it may very well take some getting used to for those coming from North America.
The island of Barbados offers miles and miles of scenic coastal roads that more often than not cause visitors to pull alongside them in order to capture such awe-inspiring scenes. In most instances outside the highway, roads are narrow and call for skill and attention in manoeuvering. Not to mention, potholes and poor lighting on many roads may call for additional attention to be paid on your part when driving. Caution should always be taken on the roads of Barbados as most of them have no shoulders but heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Barbadians have grown accustomed to the road conditions on the island and have developed certain skills when driving on these roads. You, the visitor need to act with caution.
Of particular importance, is the fact that it is illegal to drive on the island of Barbados without a seat belt as the usage of such is compulsory. Children under the age of five (5) years old should be fitted to a child safety seat. Children are not allowed to be stand between the front driver and passenger seats.
Barbados Drivers License & Permit
In order to drive on the roads of Barbados, one must have a driving permit which can be picked up from your car rental company, the Ministry of Transport & Works or the Grantley Adams International Airport.
The Ministry of Transport & Works is open from Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with outlets in Oistins, the Pine and Holetown. The Grantley Adams International Airport is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the Hastings, Worthing, and Holetown Police Stations available for driving permits as well. There's a registration fee of US$5 or Bds$10 for a period of two (2) months or US$50 for a period of one (1) year. These fees are paid upon presenting a valid license from your native country or an international driving permit.
A few tips
21 years of age is the minimum age of requirement for renting a car in Barbados. Normally 2 - 5 years experience in driving is required, however, drivers over the age of 70 will require a medical certificate that can be obtained from your doctor of choice.
In order to be the recipient of a local driving permit, you will need to travel with your drivers license from your country of origin.
For your peace of mind, check with your car rental agent as to whether or not a GPS unit has been fitted to your vehicle.
Our roads can get quite confusing at times especially for first-timers to the island. Please feel free to get a map from your car rental company as there are readily available for your usage.
Hired cars in Barbados are identified by the letter H on the license plate.
In Barbados, the wearing of seatbelts is mandatory for both the driver and passengers. Children under the age of 5 years must use a suitable child seat which can be easily rented from any of our local car rental companies.
We understand your eagerness to sightsee as you travel around our beautiful island but under no circumstance should your child be standing between the front seats while you are driving in an effort to get a better view of the surroundings.
Speed limits are posted in kilometers/hr and not miles/hr. 1 kilometre = 0.62 miles. Average speed limits in Barbados are: city areas - 40 km/h, rural areas - 60 km/h, major highways - 80 km/h. Always look out for road signs to make sure you're not exceeding the speed limit.
Safety is of paramount importance so NEVER park in dark areas and NEVER leave valuables in your hired vehicle.
Rush hours on our roads are usually 7:00 - 8:30am & 4:30 - 5:30pm so you may want to avoid these time periods in an effort to make your Barbados driving experience a pleasureable one.
Our friendly nature carries itself on the road so when someone toots their horn at you, it is to simply say 'hi' or to say 'thank you' for giving way. When a driver flashes their lights at you it generally means that they are giving way to you.
Drinking and driving is absolutely unacceptable and NEVER a good idea. Amidst enjoying the nightlife and rum of our island, please have a designated driver or call on any of the island's reliable taxi services if you are not capable of being behind the wheel.
On approaching roundabouts, you may feel a bit intimidated if you are new to the concept. Not to worry as all you need to do is approach with caution and always remember to give way to the vehicle on the right.
Regrettably, if there is an accident, call your car rental company right away and under no circumstances should you accept any liability until it is absolutely clear as to the nature of the accident.
Emergency numbers in Barbados are: Police 211, Ambulance 511, Fire Service 311.