Most countries will soon recognize Estonian drivers' license

Estonian driver's license.
Estonian driver's license. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

Estonian driving licenses will from May be recognized in 39 more countries than before, including Australia, Canada, India, the United States, New Zealand and Singapore.

The reverse is also the case, meaning drivers' licenses from these 39 countries will soon also be recognized in Estonia, Baltic News Service reports, though an international drivers' license on the basis of two long-running international agreements should generally be applied for.

The development follows the government's decision to join the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, and means an Estonian license is valid without needing to take any additional test. It also in effects means the vast majority of nations worldwide now recognized Estonian drivers' licenses, and vice versa, though applying for an international drivers' license is usually required.

The full list of the 39 new countries which will now recognize Estonian driving licenses is: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, the Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lesotho, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, the United States.

The license will also be recognized in Hong Kong and Macau, BNS reports.

Estonia itself recognizes drivers' licenses:

  1. Issued in a member state of the European Economic Area and Switzerland;
  2. Issued in a contracting party to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic;
  3. Issued in foreign countries which have concluded an international agreement on mutual recognition of driving licenses with Estonia.
  4. Issued by a contracting party to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, following this week's announcement.

From May of this year, a new international driving license can be applied for from the Transport Administration (Transpordiamet, a new body – ed.).

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) said accession to the 1949 convention will make it easier for Estonian driving license holders to settle and travel abroad and create better opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Aas said: "With the Geneva Convention, practically a quarter of the world's countries now accept Estonian driving licenses. By adding here the agreements already in force with other countries, we can say that one can manage with the Estonian driving license in practically every country."

The international driving license is issued on the basis of a valid Estonian national driving license; applications require an identity document and a colorized paper photo of at least 35×45 millimeters in size, submitted to a service office at the Transport Administration.

A state fee of €26 must also be paid.

International drivers' licenses applications under Geneva Convention open from May

Applications for an international driving license for driving in Geneva Convention countries can be submitted starting from May at the latest, BNS reports.

Estonia was already a signatory nation to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, meaning it recognizes drivers' licenses issued in those countries which have acceded to the agreement.

The countries of the European Economic Area also already recognized the Estonian driving license, and vice versa.

Following Brexit, U.K. license-holders in Estonia have until the end of this year to apply for a replacement Estonian license, which does not require taking a test, although a medical – which can be arranged through a family doctor – is needed.

Two different drivers' licenses

The two conventions also mean there are two different verisions of international driving licenses, which means that if an individual plans to visit countries who have only signed up to one or other accord, they may need to get two licenses in order to cross borders etc., BNS reports.

A caveat should also be issued, BNS aadds, particularly with Vienna Convention membership by some countries, which in practice does not mean that authorities in the country recognize the license, so always check with local authorities.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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