How to Get Your Zambian Drivers License in 3 Easy Steps

December 8, 2016



Step 0.1:  Get your International Drivers License.  This is a simple stop at AAA in the US with a valid US Drivers License and a passport photo.  The process will take about 15 minutes and cost about $15.


Step 0.2:  Once in Zambia, get your work visa.  This will take you 2-6 months (at least) and involve a stack of paperwork along with a passport photo and hours of waiting.  Total cost is approximately $250 (for fees, photos, etc.).


Step 0.3:  Ask the other expats you know how to get your license.  Get a different answer every time.  Decide to complete the process the most legal way possible.


Step 0.4:  Visit your friendly RTSA (Road Traffic and Safety Administration) office.  Find out directly from the manager what you need to do to transfer your license.  Have her print you a list of all the forms you will need.


Step 0.5:  Visit the US Embassy to get a certified copy of your Drivers License.  This will take at least 2 weeks (to make the appointment), getting through security (give up your phone), a few hours of waiting (in a comfy office with kids toys, and a bathroom with water, soap, and paper towels), and $50 a copy.  (You could have brought a notarized copy of your driving record from the States, but each State has different laws for getting those.)


Step 0.6:  Because your work visa isn't complete, visit immigration to get a letter saying you are legally working in the country.  Receive assurance from immigration that this letter will suffice.


Step 0.7:  Visit your RTSA office when they open one morning.  Wait for an hour only to be told that your letter is insufficient.  You must wait for your work visa.


Step 0.8:  Make multiple trips to immigration until your work visa is complete.  But, your work visa is in a different city 6 hours away.


Step 0.9:  Get your work visa.


Step 0.99:  Get you medical paperwork completed.  This consists of merely going to a clinic or hospital where there is a doctor.  Who is there.  And working.  The easiest option is a hospital.  Go find the registration and collections desk.  Stand in a mass of people.  Stand closer than you think is safe or wise to the person in front of you to keep your place in line.  Arrive at the window and explain what you need.  Give them the money they ask for and get a receipt.  Ask multiple times for directions to the office you go to next.  Go up the stairs, down a hallway, looking for a number on a door.  Find that there are no longer numbers on the doors.  Finally figure out where you need to submit your forms.  Wait for the doctor.  Get called into the doctor's office.  Complete the medical form.  Wait.  Pick up your signed paper.


Step 1:  Gather all your paperwork, check your list multiple times, and start off early for the RTSA office.


Step 2:  Wait to see the manager.  Find out that you need additional copies of paperwork despite having brought exactly what was on the list.  Run across the street to make those copies.  Return to RTSA.  Wait to see the manager again.  She begins looking at your paperwork.  She is interrupted.  Wait.  She approves of your paperwork.  Wait at data capture.  Get photo taken.  Move to next station (not sure what this did, but you will wait about 30 minutes because he is away from his desk).  Get approved to move to the next station.  Go to the next room to have an official sign off on your driving test and authorize payment.  Go to the next office to make payment.  Return to the previous office to have the official actually authorize the payment because it wasn't complete the first time.  Return to make payment.  Return to the assistant manager who will approve you for your driving test.


Step 2.9:  Get your vehicle and report across the street for your driving test, but make sure to stop and pay $5.00 to rent a sign with a large "L" on it, signifying you are a "learner".  Park your vehicle in line.  After waiting 30 minutes, you will be informed you must leave your vehicle and leave the testing grounds for one hour for lunch time.  (Get some lunch at any place within walking nshima and chicken it is!)  Return to test site.  Wait another 30 minutes.  


Now, complete your driving test, going around the block while discussing American politics.


Return to the testing yard and drop the instructor at his office.  Wait while he completes the paperwork.


Go back to the RTSA office and have the Payment Supervisor authorize you to make payment.


Stand in line and wait to make your payment (again).


Step 3:  Return to the supervisor to get your license.


But it's not your license.  It is a provisional license good for 5 years since new licenses are going to be printed but have been delayed least April.


Feel rather accomplished!  Living as an expat is always and adventure!  We are extremely grateful to the RTSA manager who helped us and knew exactly what we needed to do.


Now, to get Jennifer's!





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