Exchanging foreign driving licence for a Mauritian one
For those who want to settle in Mauritius and drive, getting a local driving licence will make things easier for them. Driving licences from a competent authority in other countries can be exchanged for a Mauritian one but government services in this country makes things very hard for everyone.
If you have an international driving licence from Europe, Australia, USA etc, you can request that your foreign licence is converted to a local one at the Casernes in Port-Louis. This saves you from having to take your driving test again and you should really be thankful for that because the drivers in Mauritius are crazy. Driving especially in Port-Louis, the capital, is chaotic and nervous people should not even attempt to drive in the city as it can leave a really bad experience. There is no courtesy here, so if you’re trying to emerge from a side road, don’t expect anyone to give you way; everyone seems to be in a hurry here so you’ll have to be brave and get in front inch by inch until the car behind you has no choice than to let you go first. So expect a lot of bumper to bumper.
Being a very small island, many people are not really aware how things work in other countries; they tend to just stick to what they need to know to survive in their country. Sometimes they do not even know what they need to know about their country. For instance, I went to a car insurance company (SICOM) to purchase insurance cover for my car and the person who was doing my application asked me whether I was allowed to drive on my UK driving licence. To me, they should know all the information that is required for them to process an insurance application because that’s their core business. Last year when I came to Mauritius on holiday, I went to Line Barracks Police Station to find out whether I could drive on my UK licence and I was told that I could do that provided that it’s not longer than 3 months, otherwise I would have to apply for a temporary licence to be issued to me. Now that I have returned for good, I am told different things by different people. The police officer at the information desk when you enter Casernes told me that I could not drive at all on my UK licence but when I said I was told before that I could, he then told me to go further in the Casernes at the Traffic Branch section to enquire and when I did, another police officer reluctantly told me that I could drive for 3 years. Skeptic that I was, I asked a third police officer who told me that I could drive on that foreign licence until it expires. So 3 different people and 3 different opinions.
Anyway, I knew that I had to exchange the UK licence for a Mauritian licence and I was told to bring 2 passport photos, a copy of my foreign licence (recto/verso) and a letter addressed to the DCP (Deputy Chief of Police) requesting him to convert my driving licence. When I brought all the documents to the same person who gave me that advice at the Traffic Branch, he told me that I couldn’t do that because I have only been here for 2 weeks and that I had to wait for 3 years before I can exchange my licence. He then added an entry in a big book sort of thing along with my driving licence number and asked me to sign it. So there you go, that’s Mauritius for you!