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8 Important Things To Know Before Renting A Car In Zanzibar


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Fay Hoffer


Planning a trip to Zanzibar? Renting a car can be a great way to explore this beautiful, exotic island at your own pace. However, before you hit the road, it’s important to be well-prepared. Zanzibar may have its own unique characteristics and considerations when it comes to renting a car, especially for travelers who are not familiar with local regulations and conditions.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of eight important things you need to know before renting a car in Zanzibar. From driving requirements to insurance options, road conditions to cultural norms, we’ll provide you with all the essential information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience on the roads of this stunning island. So, buckle up and let’s dive into the must-know tips and tricks for renting a car in Zanzibar!

International Driving Permit (IDP) is Required

Before you arrive in Zanzibar, make sure to obtain an International Driving Permit. This document translates your native driver’s license into multiple languages, ensuring that you can legally drive in foreign countries, including Zanzibar. Having an IDP is mandatory in Zanzibar, so be sure to apply for one in your home country before your trip.

Choose a Reliable Car Rental Company

When selecting a car rental company in Zanzibar, it’s crucial to opt for a reliable and reputable one. Look for well-established companies with positive customer reviews and a wide range of vehicle options. Doing thorough research will help you avoid any unexpected surprises and ensure a quality rental experience.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Traffic Laws

Before hitting the road in Zanzibar, take the time to familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws and regulations. This includes understanding the speed limits, road signs, and any specific driving customs that may differ from your home country. Adhering to the rules will not only keep you safe but also prevent any legal complications during your trip.

Insurance Coverage is Essential

Ensure that your rental car is adequately insured before embarking on your Zanzibar adventure. It’s important to have comprehensive coverage that includes collision damage waiver (CDW) and third-party liability insurance. This will provide peace of mind in case of any unforeseen accidents or damages during your rental period.

Be Aware of Road Conditions

Zanzibar’s road conditions can vary, especially in more remote areas. Be prepared for bumpy and uneven roads, especially if you plan on exploring off-the-beaten-path locations. It’s advisable to choose a suitable vehicle for the terrain and drive cautiously to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

Plan Ahead for Fuel Stops

While there are gas stations in Zanzibar, it’s always wise to plan ahead for fuel stops, especially if you’re traveling to more secluded areas. Fill up your tank when you have the chance to avoid getting stranded without access to a gas station. Additionally, carrying a spare jerry can of fuel is a good precautionary measure.

Parking and Security

When parking your rental car in Zanzibar, it’s important to choose secure and well-lit areas, especially overnight. Secure your valuables and never leave them visible in the car, as this could attract potential thieves. By taking proper precautions and being vigilant, you can minimize the risk of theft or break-ins.

Communicate Using Local Phrases

While English is widely spoken in Zanzibar, it’s always helpful to learn a few basic local phrases. This will come in handy when asking for directions, interacting with locals, or in case of any emergencies. The locals will appreciate your efforts and it will enhance your overall cultural experience.

By keeping these 8 important things in mind before renting a car in Zanzibar, you’ll be well-prepared for your adventure and able to make the most of your time exploring this beautiful island. So buckle up, hit the road, and create unforgettable memories as you discover the wonders of Zanzibar!


Renting a car in Zanzibar can be a convenient and enjoyable way to explore the beautiful island, but it’s important to be well-prepared and informed before you hit the road. By keeping these eight important factors in mind – understanding the driving requirements and regulations, choosing the right type of car, considering the insurance options, knowing the local driving conditions, familiarizing yourself with the rental terms and conditions, planning for fuel and parking, being aware of the cultural and social norms, and practicing safe driving habits – you can ensure a smooth and rewarding car rental experience in Zanzibar.


1. Do I need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Zanzibar?

Yes, an international driver’s license is required to rent a car in Zanzibar if your original driver’s license is not in English. It is recommended to have both your original license and an international driver’s license to avoid any complications.

2. How old do I need to be to rent a car in Zanzibar?

The minimum age to rent a car in Zanzibar is usually 21 years old. However, some car rental companies may have a higher minimum age requirement or may charge an additional fee for drivers under 25 years old. It is best to check with the rental company in advance.

3. Is it safe to drive in Zanzibar?

Driving in Zanzibar can be challenging due to the narrow and winding roads, unpredictable traffic, and varying road conditions. It is important to be cautious, follow the local traffic rules, and drive defensively. Taking extra care during the night and avoiding driving after heavy rains is also recommended.

4. Can I rent a car without insurance?

No, it is not recommended to rent a car without insurance in Zanzibar. Rental companies offer different insurance options, including basic coverage and comprehensive coverage. It is advisable to choose comprehensive coverage that includes liability insurance to protect yourself in case of an accident or damage to the vehicle.

5. Can I use my credit card for car rental payment?

Yes, most car rental companies in Zanzibar accept major credit cards for payment. It is advisable to inform your credit card company in advance about your travel plans to avoid any payment issues or card holds while renting a car.

6. Are there any additional charges when renting a car in Zanzibar?

Some additional charges that you may incur when renting a car in Zanzibar include fuel charges, late return fees, additional driver fees, and charges for optional extras such as GPS navigation systems or child seats. It is important to carefully review the rental terms and conditions to understand the potential extra costs.

7. Can I cross the border with a rental car in Zanzibar?

No, most rental car agreements in Zanzibar do not allow crossing the border to mainland Tanzania or other neighboring countries. It is best to check with the rental company if you have any plans to cross the border before finalizing your rental agreement.

8. How do I find the best car rental deals in Zanzibar?

To find the best car rental deals in Zanzibar, it is recommended to compare prices and policies from multiple rental companies. Booking in advance, staying flexible with pick-up and drop-off locations, and using online travel agencies or car rental comparison websites can help you find competitive rates and special discounts.