Travel Information

Driving in Sri Lanka as a foreigner

First of all – local driving can be chaotic – lots of rapid and unexpected manoeuvres

– be alert – or enjoy the comfort of a local driver 

If you wish to drive yourself in Sri Lanka, you will need a valid Sri Lankan permit.

This is because Sri Lankan law does not allow foreign individuals to drive with international “driving licences” or government issued licenses issued in other countries.

International Driving Permit issued outside Sri Lanka is not enough

To obtain a valid “Sri Lankan Permit” to drive in Sri Lanka you have two options:

1) Obtain a temporary Sri Lankan Driving Permit at the Department of Motor Traffic (DMT)
2) Get your International Driving Permit endorsed by the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka (AA)


Option 1 – Obtaining a Temporary Sri Lankan Driving Permit

Foreign Driving License holders must obtain a temporary Sri Lankan Driving Permit from the Department of Motor Traffic (DMT) to be able to drive legally in Sri Lanka.

The appropriate DMT is located outside Colombo city, you need the Werahera Office in “Colombo 8”, about 30 mins away from central Colombo, depending on traffic.

The process to obtain this permit may take anything from 1 hour to a few hours – depending on the queues and other people applying for a permit. 

The DMV is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4 PM  (last orders  around 2pm)

Remember to check the Sri Lankan holiday calendar to ensure the DMT is open when you plan to visit.

If your license is not in English, a certified translation by the respective Embassy or any authority in each country is required.

On arrival at the Department of Motor Traffic (DMT) Werahera Office – make sure that you have all your documents and copies with you and proceed to “Office H”  and ask for the “foreigner desk” 

The following documents are required for your application

  • Your own original Driving License (Translation copy if not in English) + Photocopy
  • Your original Passport biodata/photo page + Photocopy  
  • Your original Passport Sri Lankan Visa Page + Photocopy

There is a photocopy shop outside the DMT offices.

Once you’re at the Department of Motor Traffic,

  • look for hall ‘H’
  • inside, find Counter 1 where your documents will be verified.
  • proceed to Counters 17-20 for document scanning
  • head to Counter 31 to make the payment of 1000 LKR
  • Go to Counters 14-15 for the final approval and collect your permit from Counter 31

You can locate the DMT on Google Maps.

Option 2 – Driving with an IDL/IDP with AA Endorsement

You will need to have obtained an International Drivers License or International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country and with this IDP you could go to the Automobile Association of Ceylon, to get your driving permit endorsed.

The endorsement is given over the counter at the AA office in Colombo which is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.


More information on the AA Website.

You can locate the AA on Google Maps.