Since it is a norm in every country in the world, it is a requirement by law for a driver to have a valid driving license. Malawi is no different. A driving license seeks to ensure that motorists are well trained for driving to promote safety on roads.
In Malawi, the Department of Road Traffic Services (DRESS) is in charge of issuing qualified drivers with driving licenses. DRESS is an institution under the Ministry of Transport and Public Works of Namibia. It has regional offices located in Mzuzu, Blantyre and Lilongwe City. Driving licenses in Malawi are issued under an act of parliament. The licenses are accepted in 15 countries of the whole of Southern Africa Development Community. They also conform to the European Unified Driving License System.
Eligible persons for a driving license are from the age of 18 years. A trainee is required to attend a mandatory driving course in an institution recognized by DRESS from where one proceeds to take a driving test. The length of a driving course varies from a minimum of 30 days up to 4 months. The final driving tests comprise of both oral and practical assignments. Finally, for one to be issued with a driving license, he/she has to pass medical tests including eyesight tests. During training, one is issued with a temporary learner’s license which is only used during practical training under instructions.
One is required to have a registration card that costs MK5, 000 before the issuance of a driving license. The registration card involves taking of facial features and capturing fingerprints. DRTSS system is digital thus when one registers for a driving course in any of the recognized institutions; their data is captured by the system. Driving licenses in Malawi are issued under three categories based on what the driver intends to carry; P- passenger carriage, G- goods carriage, and D- dangerous goods carriage. They are also featured with codes that represent the approved vehicles which one is allowed to drive regarding gross weight. These are described by letters A, B, C, D, and E.
A driving license in Malawi is usually valid for up to 2 years upon which one is required to renew it. Renewal costs MK15, 000. One can also opt to upgrade the categories of the driving license which entails driving experience and passing tests.
Foreigners in Malawi are required to apply for a corresponding Malawi issued driving license if they possess a valid license from their home country. Such are exempted from taking road tests. However, foreigners without a valid driving license from their home country are required to take courses just like native Malawians.