Those seeking new Cayman Islands drivers’ licenses are being told they may have to wait between two and three months before they can take a road test at the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing on Grand Cayman.
The delay is partly due to a large influx of new workers who wish to exchange licenses from their home country for a Cayman license, some of whom may not realize the local rules for obtaining a new driving license, according to department staff.
Since the beginning of the year, the Cayman Islands Immigration Department has noted a marked increase in the number of work permit applications from non-Caymanians who are hired within the territory.
According to figures given to the Cayman Compass in August, a total of 18,847 work permit applications were submitted to the department between Jan. 1 and July 31. The Immigration Department reported that roughly the same number of permit applications were processed for all of 2016.
As of mid-July, there were 24,880 work permits active in the Cayman Islands, including temporary, three-to-six month permits, government contracts and individuals awaiting word on permanent residence applications.
At the moment, road tests for drivers’ licensing are being scheduled for February and March, according to DVDL personnel.
DVDL Director David Dixon said in an email, “A resident under section 28 of the [Traffic] Law, has three (3) months in which to take the written test. We are advising residents once they arrive on Island to book a written test since the average waiting time is one week. If the applicant is successful on passing their written test and can demonstrate previous driving experience … the required six weeks period between tests can be waived and they can sit the road test at the next available time slot.”
He said, “A new resident is someone who has been granted permission to stay in the Islands for a period exceeding six months. And, during the first three months of their arrival, they can only drive for that period of time (three months) on their foreign domestic driver’s licence or international driving permit.”
“Visitors” (defined as people who have been granted permission to stay in Cayman for less than six months) who wish to drive in Cayman for more than six months may not need to take the road test if they hold a foreign drivers’ license or an international drivers’ license from a Geneva Convention country.
This includes individuals from a country that was a contract member of the convention on road traffic in Paris (1926), Geneva (1949) or Vienna (1968). Those conventions include most of the larger countries that make up the majority of the foreign population in Cayman, including, Jamaica. The U.S., Australia and New Zealand did not sign up to the 1968 Vienna convention, but they appear in earlier versions of the agreement.
Drivers from any non-convention countries must take both the written and road tests regardless of how long they plan to remain in Cayman.