Iraq Car Rental and Driving in Iraq (and Kurdistan)
Before considering driving abroad in Iraq, you should consult your Government’s website for the latest information and advice as it’s likely there will be travel advisories and restrictions which could cover the whole country.
Iraq has 45,000km of roads, 80% of which are paved, though at the present time its very difficult to establish the state of roads which may have been subject to bombing and movements of large volumes of armoured vehicles.
Before the 1990’s Iraq had a well maintained and efficient road system. The subsequent years of conflict have obviously impacted on the roads themselves and the ability of travellers to use them.
Freeway 1 (Arabic: طريق المرور السريع رقم 1) is the main motorway in Iraq. It runs for 1,200 kilometres from the port in Basra and passing Nasiriyah, Al Diwaniyah, Al Hillah, Baghdad, Fallujah, Habbaniyah, Ramadi to Ar Rutba in Anbar, where it then heads to the borders with Syria and Jordan. The road is mostly dual carriageway with some single lane sections.
Other key non motorway main routes are –
Highway 1: Baghdad, Taji, Samarra, Tikrit, Mosul, Syria .
Highway 2: Baghdad, Baqubah, Al Khalis, Kirkuk, Irbil, Mosul, Dohuk, Zakhu, Turkey
Highway 3: Baghdad to Baqubah + Irbil to Iran .
Highway 4: Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah, Darbinadikhan, Jalaulah, As Sa’Diyah.
Highway 5: Baqubah, Muqdadiyah, As Sa’Diyah, Khanaqin, Iran .
Highway 6: Baghdad, Al Kut, Al Amarah, Basrah.
Highway 7: Al Kut, Ash Shatrah, Nasiriyah.
Highway 8: Baghdad, Al Hillah, Al-Qādisiyyah, As Samawah, Nasiriyah, Basrah, Kuwait.
Highway 9: Karbala, Al Najaf, Al-Qādisiyyah.
Highway 10: Al Rutbah, Jordan.
Highway 11: Baghdad, Al Fallujah, Al Ramadi, Al Rutbah, Syria.
Highway 12: Al Ramadi, Hīt, Haditha, Al-Karābilah, Syria .
Security on all routes is unpredictable and situations can change rapidly. There will be a large number of checkpoints in areas controlled by security forces. Traveling on many roads between cties requires strict security clearance, and on most cases the armed escorts are acquired. In disputed areas where security is not granted, only vehicles from that governorate are allowed to travel on the roads. Cars with number plates from a different governate need security clearence to travel.
Baghdad suffers from terrible traffic congestion due to a major increase in the number of vehicles on the roads in recent years. The previously closed Green/International zone is now open again to the public meaning its possible to drive there again.
Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.
Iraq Car Rental
Europcar have a branch in Baghdad.
We currently have no local car rental partners in Iraq. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com
Kurdistan Car Rental and Driving in Kurdistan
The situation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is generally better than in the rest of the country but there have been terrorist incidents and airstrikes in the North. As with the rest of Iraq, you should check your government’s website before planning to visit.
The Kurdistan region has a road network of 14,841km. By region, Sulaymaniyah has the largest total road network at 5,673km. Erbil has 5,391km and Duhok 3,777km. There are now highways but major roads and roads in cities are generally in a good condition. The Government undertook a 7 year $5bn road building and improvement project in 2013. A new tunnel was built between Zakho (Ibrahim Khalil) and Duhok Governorate which decreased driving time by approx 30 mins. In Erbil, a series of ring roads encircle the city: 30 Meter Road, 40 Meter Road, 60 Meter Road, 100 Meter Road, and 120 Meter Road and a new road 150 Meter road which is under construction.
Kurdistan has a high road fatality rate 14 deaths per 100k population in 2017, with the cause of many accidents attributed to speeding and poor driving skills- there is no real driving test qualification in KRI. Also many drivers have no insurance. Many drivers will ignore lane markings and overtake on either side and pull into gaps in the traffic in front of you. As a general rule of thumb, the onus is on the vehicle moving lanes to ensure its safe to do so. You should keep driving ahead in the lane you’re in. If you move lanes, indicate and sound your horn to warn others of your intentions. There are a large number of unmarked speed bumps- drivers may suddenly slow to pass over one, so keep your distance. In rural areas, livestock is likely to wander in the road, so proceed with caution, and avoid driving after dark.
A famous scenic road in Kurdistan is Hamilton Road, built by the British Army in 1928 and running through the mountains from Erbil to the Iranian border. It’s a good paved road with some amazing views.
Kurdistan Car Rental
Europcar have a branch in Erbil.
We currently have no local car rental partners in Kurdistan. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com