The Turks and Caicos consists of several
inhabited islands, and cars are the main means of transport for residents and visitors alike. There’s no train, bus, or underground service in the country.
We recommend that most visitors to the Turks and Caicos Islands
rent a car for the duration of their stay, as there’s no public transport on any island in the country. The distances between most sights, beaches, and attractions are often too far apart for pleasant walking and cycling, and taxis tend to be quite expensive.
Rental cars may not be needed for guests staying at an
all-inclusive resort, or for short stays in the central
Grace Bay area. Some luxury vacation
villas also offer complimentary transport or car use.
You will need a valid driving licence (driver's license) to rent a car or drive in the Turks and Caicos. An International Driver's Permit (IDP) is not required, unless your licence is in a language other than English.
Typical Rental Requirements
Minimum driving age is usually 25 (18 for scooters).
Valid drivers license is required.
Some companies may have additional requirements.
Gasoline is quite expensive in the Turks and Caicos at around $5.45 a gallon (August 2018). However, most of the driving distances are quite short so fuel usage isn't great, and the high price isn't too noticeable.
General Driving Information
Typical sign at a roundabout in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
We drive on the left, as in the United Kingdom. However, most cars are imported from the United States (which are left-hand steering). In addition, school buses and other shuttle buses are also typically imported from the United States, which results in passengers being unloaded directly into traffic lanes. It's important to be aware of buses when driving in the Turks and Caicos.
How to Use Roundabouts
There are many roundabouts on Providenciales, and navigating these features can be a point of confusion for some tourists. When using roundabouts, the general rules apply:
Always give way (yield) to traffic on your RIGHT. This is traffic already in the roundabout.
Once inside a roundabout, you generally do not stop (unless atypical traffic conditions force otherwise, or for emergencies).
You must use turn signals at all roundabouts, unless you are continuing straight in a mini-roundabout (see Roundabout A in the diagram).
If you are taking the first left, enter the roundabout with the LEFT turn signal flashing.
If you are turning right or doing a full circle (looping back), enter the roundabout with the RIGHT turn signal flashing.
If you are continuing straight or taking another intermediate exit, you normally do not enter the roundabout with a signal flashing.
For all driving at full-size roundabouts, signal LEFT once you have passed the exit before your desired exit, to indicate that you are exiting the roundabout.
For full-size roundabouts that have two lanes inside, you generally stay in your lane, and only cross-over to exit the roundabout.
Examples of common roundabout usage (usage shown in diagram below displaying actual roundabouts on Providenciales):
Continuing straight (mini roundabout): See blue and pink cars in Roundabout A.
Continuing straight (full-size roundabout): See red car in Roundabout B and blue car in Roundabout C.
Turning left (all roundabouts): See pink car in Roundabout B.
Turning right (all roundabouts): See red car in Roundabout A and blue car in Roundabout B.
Looping back (U-turns or 180°) (all roundabouts): See red car in Roundabout C.
Driving hazards on Grand Turk!
Until 2011, there were few direction signs on Providenciales. Due to a failure of emergency services to find locations (many times because streets and roads didn't have any names), the government implemented a programme to name and put up signs for all roads in the country.
Roundabouts frequently have signs posted from all directions. In other countries, the top line of text usually says the name or area of the roundabout, but the Turks and Caicos instead uses names of prominent people from the country.
For American and Canadian Tourists
We drive on the left. There are no stoplights in the country, and traffic is regulated through the use of roundabouts. When entering a roundabout, give way to traffic on your RIGHT. Once you are inside a roundabout, you have the right of way until you exit the roundabout. HOWEVER, many drivers in the Turks and Caicos have their own interpretation of how to use roundabouts so be prepared to stop and give way to other drivers.
Here are three British style road signs in use in the Turks and Caicos which might confuse North American visitors:
No overtaking (no passing)
Low-flying aircraft or sudden aircraft noise
Mini-roundabout (give way to the right)
For British Tourists
The Turks and Caicos follows the UK Highway Code protocol. However, don't expect drivers to give you the same courtesy as in the UK and always be prepared to stop or slow down for other drivers.
One note is that brown road signs in the UK denote an attraction, such as a zoo or castle. Green signs are reserved for primary routes. For some unknown reason, the Turks and Caicos has several brown road signs to denote local and primary routes, in addition to using the correct green (primary) and white (local) routes.
None of the few tourist attractions on Providenciales use the brown sign.
Correct usage of green for primary routes in the United Kingdom.
Incorrect usage of brown for some primary and local routes in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos has inconsistent road signage. Many of the older signs, and some in new developments, are US Federal Highway Administration style signs. New government installed signs conform to the UK Highway Code. Some posts contain both styles of sign, such as this sign post in North Caicos.
We don't recommend you rent a scooter in Providenciales and other non-car vehicles. This because of a combination of poor drivers and sometimes poorly maintained roads. If you do decide to rent a scooter, it's highly recommended you stay within the
Grace Bay area, as speed limits are lower and there is less traffic.
Driving in some parts of the country, such as Providenciales, can be dangerous. There are many poor drivers who routinely exceed the speed limits and drive recklessly and without due care and attention. This is especially common with Haitian immigrants, many of whom operate illegal, unlicensed taxi services. Along with more official looking (usually) illegal 'bus' services, these drivers will stop directly in traffic lanes to pick up additional passengers, and in addition will cut directly in front of you to re-enter traffic or for turning.
Offroad driving can be fun, but many robust-looking vehicles have very poor off-road abilities, such as this Ford Explorer stuck on North Caicos.
Your best course is to keep a safe distance to drivers in front of you (much more than US or UK recommended lengths), and be ready for cars to stop suddenly or cut in front. In addition, ensure that you stay within the speed limit as several roads have hidden hazards, such as difficult to see speed humps (speed bumps) and pot-holes due to poor maintenance.
Traffic laws, such as speed limits and laws governing the use of round-abouts, are not generally enforced to any significant degree. There are no official statistics, but our estimates are a road fatality rate per 100,000 of 12.7, roughly equal to the United States at 12.3 and significantly higher than the United Kingdom at 2.7. Unfortunately, road deaths are on the rise. You are advised to be extremely vigilant when driving and give other drivers plenty of space. Always be prepared to stop suddenly for illegal taxis, drivers cutting in-front, and improper use of round-abouts.
If you're planning to drive off the beaten path, you may be interested in reading our section on
safety and crime.