Laws & Regulations
In Namibia traffic drives on the left hand site of the road, just like in all the neighbouring countries except for Angola. It is compulsory to wear safety belts on all seats.
It is not recommended to take hitch-hikers in your vehicle and car rental companies generally do not allow it anyways. On the other hand, hitch-hiking is rarely seen in Namibia and officially not allowed (see the frequent street signs with a crossed “thumb up”).
A Namibian speciality is the “All-Way-Stop”. Here you have to stop at the stop sign and you are allowed to pass on in sequence of arrival. So the first car stopping at the stop sign can carry on first. Generally, you will find a small sign below the actual stop sign showing “All-Way” or a number, which refers to the number of roads meeting at this sign.
The speed limit in urban areas is 60 km/h (sometimes 80 km/h on major roads), 100 km/h on unpaved rural roads and 120 km/h on paved rural roads. Car rental companies generally set a much lower allowed speed in the contracts (70–80 on gravel and 90–100 on tar). Outside of schools the speed limit in towns is 40 km/h.
Outside larger towns along main highways you will generally have to stop at permanently set-up police checkpoints. Stop at the stop-sign (not the stopping line) even if you do not see any police around or even if it is darkest night. In 90 % of the cases the police will wink you through, however, from time to time they check drivers licences and the registration of your vehicle. Make sure, in case you have a rented car from e.g. South Africa, that you have the country sticker (e.g. ZA) at the back of your car. Also double-check that you, in case travelling inside Namibia with a foreign registered vehicle, have a valid cross-border charge permit (valid for 90 days from entering Namibia) with you at all times! Do not even try to bribe… often people end up in jail.
Always be friendly and polite… a smiling “Good Morning” or “Good Day” might help.
Traffic fines in Namibia are high and they were doubled at the end of 2010. So keep to the rules and regulations, even if you find yourself being the only one doing this (which is most probably the case in Windhoek at least). For example, talking on the cell phone while driving is getting expensive when you have to pay the fine of N$ 2000 (approx. € 130). If you got a fine, you have to pay it at the nearest police station within 7 days. Do so and always ask for a receipt. It is not allowed by police to take any money on site (so called “spot fines”).
Keep to “don’t drink and drive”, as if you get caught you will have to spend a night in prison (and if you get caught on a Friday it will be three days). The legal blood alcohol level is 0.37 per thousand.
It is a must to have an International Drivers Licence. There are many rumours around this topic, but without doubt an international licence together with your national licence is a prerequisite! Car rental companies might not ask for the international one, however, the police and for sure an insurance company will ask in cases of an accident.