Bermuda is one of the few places in the world where visitors and tourists are unable to rent a car during their stay. There are a few reasons for this including:
- Cars are generally unnecessary for most visitors due to the size of the Island and availability of an efficient transit system.
- The roads are already fairly congested so the government has imposed restrictions on four-wheeled vehicles to help reduce traffic problems.
Therefore, when you first arrive (either as a guest worker or a tourist!) it's very likely you'll end up renting a motor scooter. Rental bikes are limited in size to 50cc engines and are available in both one-seat and two-seat models. Many also include a basket or compartment on the back for carry-on items.
To rent a bike, you will be asked for a copy of your driver's licence from home and will be required to do a short test run in a parking lot to demonstrate your ability to control the vehicle. The bikes are automatic and pretty easy to get the hang of... just don't forget to stay left!
In order to purchase and register a bike (or a car for that matter), you must obtain a valid Bermuda driver's licence. Bermuda licences are available to both local citizens and residents (work permit holders are considered residents).
The Transport Control Department (TCD) is the Government body that oversees driver and vehicle licensing in Bermuda. First steps involve completing a driver's license application form (available on the TCD website www.tcd.gov.bm). The application includes a certificate of physical fitness that must be completed and signed by a Doctor so you will need to arrange an appointment for that aspect of the application.
You'll then complete a theory exam consisting of multiple choice questions largely focused on rules of the road to earn a learner's permit. From there, you will schedule a driving test in the proper vehicle category (auxiliary cycle, motorcycle, car etc.) to obtain your full licence. The cycle riding test involves various basic exercises designed to test your control of the vehicle under varying circumstances (such as turning, braking, slow speed maneuvers etc.) - very similar to an M2 motorcycle test here in Ontario.
Licence fees vary depending on vehicle and licence class but are quite inexpensive overall (exams are approx $25-$45, licensing fees cost from approx $25 for a learner's to $100 for a 10 year driver's license).
A word on Assessment Numbers:
While the majority of expats find a scooter and/or public transit to be the most practical (and inexpensive) mode of transportation in Bermuda, some do wish to purchase a car. One of the considerations that many don't realize is that in order to have a car licensed in Bermuda, your rental property must have an available assessment number. Currently, car ownership in Bermuda is limited to one per household in an effort to combat traffic congestion. This is something to keep in mind when looking for housing on the Island if you wish to have a car.
Unfortunately traffic accidents in Bermuda are not as rare as you might think they'd be in a small environment with such a low speed limit (35km/hr). Many injuries on the roads in Bermuda are attributed to dangerous driving (including speeding and unsafe passing). Bermuda's roads are narrow and twisty so drivers must really keep their eyes on the road. As long as you keep your speed in check and an awareness of those on the road around you, driving in Bermuda should be an enjoyable experience.
Author: Jason Squires