Which Countries Drive on the Left?

20th February, 2023, in Travel Advice & Guides

No matter where you are planning to travel, be it for holiday or work, one of the key things to brush up on is the driving rules. Each country may have specific speed limits that you are not used to, some may have rules around paperwork you are required to carry whilst others may require you to kit your car with certain safety features.

But perhaps the main thing you should check first is what side of the road you should be driving on. In the UK we drive on the left but only a few other countries do when compared to those that use the right-hand side of the road. Around 70 countries are driving on the left spread across Europe, Africa, Oceania, and The Americas.

Driving on the wrong side of the road can prove to be extremely dangerous and costly. Ensure you are as fully insured as possible before setting out in a hire car and use car hire insurance excess cover to make sure you are covered to the maximum possible level.

Which countries in Europe drive on the left?

You may well be used to driving on the left in the UK and fully expect to switch sides once you leave our tiny island. That isn’t necessarily the case though! Within Europe, you can find five other places that share the same side of the road as us.

  • Ireland
  • Chanel Islands
  • Cyprus
  • Isle of Man
  • Malta

As with any driving rules though, they could change, whilst infrequent, it has been known in the past for countries to legally change the side of the road people drive on. Therefore, always double-check before you depart.

Which countries in Asia drive on the left?

Destinations in Asia are highly popular, and stunning scenery, vibrant culture, and a wonderful history complement the rapid growth many countries there are showing. Should you be heading to Asia you will find the following countries all drive on the left:

  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • East Timor
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Maccao
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand

Much like our suggestion in the driving in Europe section, we would always advise you double check before setting off. As far back as the 1960s Sweden and Iceland moved from driving on the left to driving on the right as recently as 2009, the Samoan government switched the rules from driving on the right to driving on the left.

Which countries in Africa drive on the left?

Africa is a huge continent and consists of 54 countries and around 25% of them drive on the left. This includes South Africa and the Seychelles, destinations particularly popular with visitors. Should you be looking to explore more of Africa, be aware that the following countries will need you to drive your hire car on the left:

  • Botswana
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • St Helena
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Which countries in Oceania drive on the left?

Consisting of many former British Colonies, many countries have followed the lead set by the colonizing nation. Consisting of many tourist hotspots and destinations for relocation, Oceania has several countries embracing left-hand drive that you could find yourself visiting:

  • Australia
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos Islands
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Nauru
  • New Zealand
  • Niue
  • Norfolk Island
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Solomon Islands
  • Samoa
  • Tokelau Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu

Which parts of the Caribbean and the Americas drive on the left?

Golden sands, hot weather, swaying palm trees, it’s the holiday of dreams, right? Just make sure you can enjoy the stunning atmosphere and views by driving safely and on the right side of the road. The following countries in these areas all drive on the left:

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • Falkland Islands
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • St Kitts
  • St Lucia
  • Saint Vincent
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Virgin Islands


Why do we drive on the left in these countries?

The answer to this question may not necessarily have any truth in it but it is thought that it dates back many years. Some claim it stems from the class system with members of the higher classes passing each other on the left as they found it to be more polite. Therefore, the more common folk would pass on the right. Another story pertains to the days of duelling, people were openly choosing to walk on the left side as most people were right-handed and found it easier to draw their swords this way. Now, these could be true, or a complete fabrication but we will likely never really know. All we do know is that in 1835 it was written into the Highway Act that this was the side of the road that should be used.

As a result, this law was then incorporated in many countries that were part of the British Empire which is where we commonly see most left-hand side driving countries.

Wherever you drive, keeping safe on the roads is important so always follow the rules of the country you are visiting. Car hire excess cover goes someway to protecting you in so much that you can avoid the costly excess fees you may encounter when using a hire car. Our team at Direct Car Hire Excess can help find an affordable policy for you whether you are travelling halfway across the globe or require a policy for European car hire excess insurance. Speak to us today and get yourself a free quote.

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