Morocco is a country made for driving and offers freedom to explore the more unusual routes in your own time.
Daylight driving is generally no problem and not too stressful, though Moroccan drivers often need to be treated with caution and safe distances.
The roads connecting Morocco’s main centres are generally good, and there’s an expanding motorway network (which attract small tolls). The main routes:
Every vehicle should display the nationality plate of its country of registration, and you must always carry proof of ownership of a private vehicle. Moroccan law requires a Green Card (carte verte, or International Motor Insurance Card), as proof of insurance. A warning triangle (to be used in case of breakdown) is compulsory.
Obtain insurance and a Green Card before leaving home. Otherwise local insurance (assurance frontiere), costing about Dh650 for 10 days, must be purchased at the ferry port or a nearby broker (bureau d’assurance).
Ask for the optional constat amiable form, which both parties fill out in the event of a minor road accident. They can also be purchased at tabacs in cities.
At the port, or on the ferry on longer crossings, you must also fill in the TVIP form (temporary vehicle importation declaration – declaration d’admission temporaire de moyens de transport), valid for six months. Present this form when you (and your vehicle) leave the country. You can also download the form from the website of Morocco Customs (www.douane.gov.ma), where it’s referred to as D16TER.
There is no need for a carnet de passage en douane for temporarily importing your vehicle to Morocco.
International driving permits are recommended for Morocco by most automobile bodies, but many foreign, including EU, licences are accepted provided they bear your photograph.
You must carry your licence or permit as well as your passport when driving.
The country is well served with petrol stations, although they're fewer and further between in Western Sahara. If you’re travelling off the beaten track, refuel at every opportunity. Keep a close eye on the gauge in the southern desert and fill up wherever you get a chance, as stations don’t always have supplies of fuel.
Leaded and less-common unleaded (sans plomb) petrol cost around Dh10 per litre and diesel (gasoil) is around Dh11. In the Western Sahara, tax-free petrol is about 30% cheaper. Fuel in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla is comparably priced to Morocco.
Moroccan mechanics are generally good, and decent-sized towns should have at least one garage.
Hiring a car costs about Dh300 per day for a week or so with unlimited mileage. For longer rentals, lower daily rates are sometimes available. Pre-booking gives the cheapest deals. Most companies demand a (returnable) cash deposit (Dh3000 to Dh5000) or take an impression of your credit card.
With international firms such as Hertz, Budget, Europcar, National and Avis, you can pre-book online. There are also numerous local agencies.
Make sure you understand what is included in the price and what your liabilities are. Always check the car’s condition before signing up, and make sure it comes with a spare tyre, tool kit and full documentation – including insurance cover. Keep the car’s documents and your licence with you, rather than in the car, as you'll need them if the car is stolen or damaged. Keep receipts for oil changes or mechanical repairs; these costs should be reimbursed.
Insurance must, by law, be sold along with all rental agreements. Make sure that prices include collision damage, insurance and tax (20%). You should also take out Collision Damage Waiver insurance, typically about Dh35 to Dh60 a day (often with an excess of up to Dh5000). Super Collision Damage Waiver, which eliminates or minimises the excess, may be available for an extra Dh60 or so a day.
Unless you hire a 4WD, your rental agreement will probably not allow off-road (piste) driving, making you liable for potential damages.
Motorcycle touring is popular, but many bikes are unfamiliar in Morocco, particularly those with larger capacity engines, so repairs can be tricky. Carry a good tool kit and all necessary spares, including cables and levers, inner tubes, puncture repair kit, tyre levers, pump, fuses, chain, washable air filter and cable ties.
Some insurance policies do not allow foreign motorcycle licences to be used in Morocco. See Horizons Unlimited (www.horizonsunlimited.com) for detailed advice on biking in the region.
Parking zones are often watched by gardiens de voitures (car-park attendants). Payment of a few dirhams gives a trouble-free parking experience.
In the big city centres, parking tickets are issued from kerbside machines (Dh2 to Dh3 per hour for a maximum stay of two hours). Parking is free on Sundays.
Parking is not allowed at kerbsides painted in red-and-white stripes. Stopping is not allowed on green-and-white stripes. Fines for illegally parked cars can reach Dh1500.
Police control points are common on main roads in and out of most sizeable towns. Foreigners are unlikely to be stopped, but it’s still a good idea to slow down and put on your best smile.
Roadblocks are also common in sensitive areas like the Western Sahara, the Rif Mountains around the cannabis-producing region of Ketama, and the road to Figuig near the Algerian border.
Police are more vigilant in these areas, but at most, you'll be asked to show your passport, driving licence and the vehicle’s papers, and asked the purpose of your visit and destination.
Road accidents are as common in Morocco as offers of mint tea from carpet sellers. Treat all vehicles as ready to veer out and cut you off at inopportune moments.
Cyclists and pedestrians often have poor traffic awareness. Roads are often busy with people (including groups of schoolchildren), bicycles, horse and carts, donkeys and so on.
In the hamada (stony desert), tar roads sometimes disappear without warning, replaced by stretches of sand, gravel and potholes. If a strong chergui (dry, easterly desert wind) is blowing and carrying a lot of dust, you’ll have to wait until it eases off if you don’t want to do your car considerable damage.
High and Middle Atlas passes are often closed because of snow in winter. Seek local advice before travelling, or check the road signs along the routes.
Entering cities and towns, park outside the medina or find out if the route to your accommodation is easily driveable – narrow medina streets weren’t designed for cars.
Driving at night is particularly hazardous: it’s legal (and very common) for vehicles travelling under 20km/h to drive without lights.
Drive on the right-hand side of the road. Give way to traffic entering a roundabout from the right when you’re already on one.
The fine for missing a red stop sign is Dh700.
The speed limit in built-up areas is 40km/h, and 100km/h outside the towns (120km/h on motorways). Police with radar guns are common, so watch your speed.
It's the law to wear a seatbelt.
Tolls apply on the motorways – for example, Rabat–Tangier is about Dh60 and Rabat–Casablanca is Dh20. You take a ticket upon entering the motorway and pay at the end.
In the event of an accident, especially involving injuries, drivers are officially required to remain at the scene. Vehicles cannot be moved until the police have arrived – this may take hours.
Pick up a constat amiable form in case you have an accident; they can be purchased at tabacs (corner shops) in cities.