Can You Drive in Tonga With an Overseas Licence?(c) Pixabay
Can You Drive in Tonga With an Overseas Licence?

Can You Drive in Tonga with an Overseas Licence?

(c) Pixabay

What Licence Do You Need to Drive in Tonga?

Renting a car gives you the ultimate freedom to explore the islands of Tonga. However, while some visitors can drive in Tonga on their foreign driving licence, others may need to get a Visitor’s Driving Licence. So can you drive in Tonga with an overseas licence? Only those with a full valid driving licence from selected countries can drive in Tonga. We go over the rules for what driving licence to use in Tonga, as well as how to get a Visitor’s Driving Licence (if you need one) in this guide.

For more information on driving in Tonga, see How to Drive in Tonga. Plus, be sure to bookmark our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga for even more transport tips.

Do You Need to Get a Visitor’s Driving Licence?

Drivers from the visitor visa-exempt countries with a valid full driving licence are entitled to drive in Tonga. Overseas driving licences are valid for driving in Tonga for up to 12 months from the date of arrival. Visitors with licences from non-visa-exempt countries will need to obtain a Visitor’s Driving Licence.

The Visitor’s Driving Licence in Tonga is legally required for visitors from non-visa-exempt countries to drive in Tonga. It is valid for three months. The applicant must be over the age of 18 (although you need to be over 21 to hire a car in Tonga) and hold a valid and full driving licence, no matter which country it is from. Find more information on what driving licence you need below. Otherwise, skip to How to Get a Tonga Visitor’s Driving Licence for more details on the Visitor’s Driving Licence.

Can You Drive in Tonga With an Overseas Licence?(c)

What Driving Licence Do You Need to Drive in Tonga?

If your overseas driving licence is from a visitor visa-exempt country (such as those listed in Do You Need a Visa to Visit Tonga?), then your driving licence should be valid to drive in Tonga. Your foreign driving licence must be full (i.e. not a learner’s or provisional licence, etc.) and you can only drive the class of motor vehicle that your licence entitles.

However, driving licences issued by countries not stated on the visitor visa-exempt list are not likely to be valid. In this case, drivers will need to get a Visitor’s Driving Licence to legally drive in Tonga.

What Type of Driving Licence do You Need for the Visitor’s Driving Licence Application?

To get the Visitor’s Driving Licence in Tonga, you will still need to bring your foreign driving licence to Tonga for the application. Your driving licence can be from any country, but if the licence is not in the English language, then an International Driving Permit (IDP) is also required. See Do You Need an International Driving Permit for Tonga? for more advice on the IDP.

You will need to present your overseas driving licence (and IDP, if necessary) when applying for your Visitor’s Driving Licence. You’ll also need these documents available when driving in Tonga.

Can You Drive in Tonga With an Overseas Licence?(c)

How to Get the Visitor’s Driving Licence

For driving in Tonga if your licence is not from a visitor visa-exempt country, you will need your overseas driving licence, your IDP if your licence is not in English, and a Tonga Visitor’s Driving Licence. The latter can only be obtained once you are in Tonga.

Where to Apply for the Visitor’s Driving Licence

A Visitor’s Driving Licence can be obtained in Nuku’alofa in Tongatapu and Neiafu in Vava’u.

In Nuku’alofa, get your Visitor’s Driving Licence from the Ministry of Infrastructure building at the Land Transport Division. It’s located on Alaivahamama’o Bypass Road after turning off Taufa’ahau Road at the corner with the Little India restaurant. Keep going past the BP gas station and you’ll see the building clearly labelled.

In Neiafu, Visitor’s Driving Licences are available to apply for at the Police Station on the corner of Tu’i and Fatafehi Roads.

How to Apply for a Visitor’s Driving Licence

To apply for the Visitor’s Driving Licence, you need to present your overseas driving license, as well as your IDP if required. Your details will be written onto a piece of printed cardboard which is your Visitor’s Driving Licence. You will then need to pay a fee of around TOP$40. You will then receive your Visitor’s Driving Licence and your receipt.

Now you can drive in Tonga! Move onto 10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga.

For a more detailed description of obtaining the Visitor’s Driving Licence, see How to Get a Tonga Visitor’s Driving License.

More About Whether You Can Drive in Tonga with an Overseas Licence


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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