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Driving in Brasilia

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Brasilia.

1. Understanding the Traffic Rules

Driving in Brasilia, like any other city, requires a good understanding of the local traffic rules. The city is known for its unique city planning and architecture, which includes a grid of highways and roundabouts instead of traditional intersections. This can be confusing for newcomers, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the layout and rules of the road.

2. Car Recommendation

As for the type of car, it’s recommended to have a car that’s comfortable and reliable. A compact car is often a good choice as it’s easier to maneuver and park in the city. However, if you plan to travel outside the city, a car with a bit more power might be more suitable.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Brasilia can be challenging, especially in the downtown area during peak hours. However, there are several paid parking lots and garages available. The cost of parking can vary, but it’s generally not considered overly expensive.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Brazil with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to 180 days. After this period, you will need to obtain a Brazilian driver’s license. It’s important to always carry your IDP and your home country’s driver’s license when driving.

5. Obtaining a Brazilian Driver’s License

To get a Brazilian driver’s license, you will need to pass a written test and a practical driving test. The process can be lengthy and may require a good understanding of Portuguese as the tests are usually not offered in English. It’s recommended to take a few driving lessons to familiarize yourself with the driving rules and conditions in Brazil.

6. Be Prepared for Aggressive Driving

Drivers in Brasilia can be aggressive and often disregard traffic rules. Be prepared for drivers who speed, change lanes without signaling, and don’t respect pedestrian crossings. Always drive defensively and stay alert.

7. Beware of Motorcycles

Motorcycles are very common in Brasilia and they often weave in and out of traffic. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes to avoid accidents.

8. Avoid Rush Hour

Rush hour in Brasilia can be very congested. If possible, try to avoid driving during peak hours, which are typically from 7-9 am and 5-7 pm.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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