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Countries that drive on the left

Driving abroad? Find out which countries drive on the left

Collette Shackleton
Written by  Collette Shackleton
Saarrah Mussa
Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
5 min read
Updated: 14 Feb 2024

Planning on driving during your next trip? Discover which countries drive on the left-hand side of the road like here in the UK.

Wondering which countries drive on the left? While most countries in the world drive on the right-hand side of the road, there are a few that drive on the left. The UK is one of the most obvious places, but there are others. 

Keep reading to find out which countries are on the list and what you need to know if you’re hiring a car on your next trip.

How many countries drive on the left?

Roughly 30% of the countries in the world drive on the left side of the road. Most of these are former British colonies. These include India, Australia, New Zealand and former British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

Very few countries drive on the left in Europe like we do in the UK. The Channel Islands, Ireland, The Isle of Man, Cyprus, and Malta are the only European countries that also drive on the left.

If you're hiring a car on an European holiday anywhere except for these places, you'll need to be confident driving on the opposite side of the road.

man driving car

Which countries drive on the left?

Here is the complete list of countries that drive on the left around the globe:

European countries that drive on the left 

  • Channel Islands (including Guernsey and Jersey)

  • Cyprus

  • Ireland

  • Isle of Man

  • Malta

  • United Kingdom

Asian countries that drive on the left

  • Bangladesh

  • Bhutan

  • Brunei

  • East Timor

  • Hong Kong

  • India

  • Indonesia

  • Japan

  • Macau

  • Malaysia

  • Maldives

  • Nepal

  • Pakistan

  • Singapore

  • Sri Lanka

  • Thailand

African countries that drive on the left

  • Botswana

  • Kenya

  • Lesotho

  • Malawi

  • Mauritius

  • Mozambique

  • Namibia

  • Seychelles

  • South Africa

  • Swaziland

  • Tanzania

  • Uganda

  • Zambia

  • Zimbabwe

Oceanic countries that drive on the left

  • Australia and its territories including Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Norfolk Island and Tasmania

  • Fiji

  • Kiribati

  • Nauru

  • New Zealand and its territories including Cook Islands and Tokelau

  • Niue

  • Pitcairn Islands

  • Papua New Guinea

  • Samoa

  • Solomon Islands

  • Tonga

  • Tuvalu

Caribbean and Atlantic ocean islands that drive on the left

  • Anguilla

  • Antigua and Barbuda

  • Bahamas

  • Barbados

  • Bermuda

  • British Virgin Islands

  • Cayman Islands

  • Dominica

  • Falkland Islands

  • Grenada

  • Jamaica

  • Montserrat

  • Saint Helena

  • Saint Kitts and Nevis

  • Saint Lucia

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Trinidad and Tobago

  • Turks and Caicos Islands

  • United States Virgin Islands

South American countries that drive on the left

  • Guyana

  • Suriname

Why does Britain drive on the left? 

According to the National Motor Museum, reasons for driving on the left stem as far back as Roman times, long before cars even existed.

Chariot riders would apparently keep to the left hand side of the road in order to keep their right arm free to draw their swords ready to defend themselves from any attacks or muggings. 

Later in history, horse-drawn carriage drivers would then sit on the right hand side to keep their hand free to whip horses. 

Keeping to the left officially became a road law in 1756 for travellers using London Bridge to reduce collisions and traffic.

Driving on the left then became mandatory in Scotland in 1772, and 1835 in Great Britain and Ireland, and was also adopted throughout the British Empire.

Things to know when you hire a car abroad 

Hiring a car can be a great option to explore your surroundings on holiday, but there are some things to consider before you hire a car abroad:

  • Some companies only allow people over 25 to hire vehicles

  • You'll need to take your driving licence abroad, and some companies may also request to see your driving record, which you can obtain by generating a code on the website

  • Insurance is often included in the cost of hiring a car, but make sure you double check exactly what you're covered for

  • Many car hire companies only accept credit card payments, otherwise you may need to pay a significant deposit

  • In countries that drive on the right, you'll be given a LHD car, so everything will be opposite to what you're used to when driving in the UK

  • Speed limits are in kilometres on the continent, so check any speed laws and rules of the road before hiring a car abroad  

What does right-hand drive and left-hand drive mean?

Right-hand drive (RHD) and left-hand drive (LHD) cars refer to the position of the steering wheel in the car. Right-hand traffic (RHT) and left-hand traffic (LHT) mean the side of the road the traffic is on.

In a vehicle, the driver is supposed to sit on the side that’s next to the centreline of the road. In left-hand traffic countries, such as the UK, there are right-hand drive cars, and in right-hand traffic countries, they have left-hand drive cars.

Can I drive a left-hand drive car in the UK?

While most vehicles in the UK are right-hand drive models, it’s perfectly legal to drive a left-hand drive car if you happen to own one that has been imported from a country that drives on the right.

If you're planning on importing a car from another country yourself, you'll need to let HMRC know and pay any necessary VAT and duty. You'll also need to show this vehicle meets our safety and environmental standards.

The importer or shipping company can help you with these requirements. Find out more on the government website.

Can I get insurance for left-hand drive vehicles? 

Yes, you can get insurance for a left-hand drive car, you just need to inform your insurer when you get a car insurance quote.

If your car is an EU import that has the same specifications as models sold here in the UK, it will be easier to insure.

However, some insurance companies won't offer cover for specific types of LHD imported cars, e.g. cars built outside of the European Union that don't have an equivalent model in the UK. If this is the case with your vehicle, you'll need to find specialist insurers to cover you.

Is it more expensive to insure left-hand drive cars?

It can be more expensive to insure certain types of left-hand drive cars. It all depends on the model and manufacturer.

If the car is built outside of the EU, e.g. it's an American or Japanese car, it will be more expensive because it's harder to source and import replacement parts if it needs repairing.

Cars imported from EU countries which have the same specifications as models sold in the UK shouldn't cost much more, as the parts will be readily available in this country. If you have made any custom changes to your car, this will also affect the cost of your insurance.

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