How to licence a car
The easy part was getting a Solomon’s driver’s licence. The hard part is getting a car licenced (i.e. for New Zealanders – getting your car registered. Note, getting your car registered is not the same as getting your car licenced).
Renewing a vehicle licence is a test embroiled with frustration. Stories are consistent: getting your car licensed here sucks and most are inclined to just paying their office driver to go through the ordeal on their behalf instead.
Since our car licence had just expired, I decided to investigate the matter myself. After numerous days of trial and error, I can finally give everyone a guide on how to licence your car in Honiara!
Places you need to know
Inland Revenue Division (“IRD”): IRD, among other things, processes car licences. IRD are the gatekeepers all things vehicle-related. They are located on the sea side of the Town Ground roundabout in a blue-fenced complex.
Ministry of Infrastructure Development (“MID”): MID, among other things, are also part of the vehicle licencing process. They are located next to Honiara library at the Mataniko roundabout.
Vehicle Inspection Site: Not MID, but owned by MID and close to MID. Instead of having various mechanics that are authorised to do Warrant of Fitnesses, in the Solomons, the only place that is authorised to do a vehicle inspection is at a vehicle inspection site which is owned by MID.
Step 1: Go to either IRD or MID and pay for a vehicle inspection fee
In order for IRD to license a car, IRD needs to see that the car has:
- passed a vehicle inspection; and
You can pay for the inspection fee at either IRD or MID.
If you decide to go to IRD, go to “counter 5ive” and pay SBD138 for a vehicle inspection fee.
If you go to MID, look for the counter that says “cashier” and pay SBD138 for a vehicle inspection fee.
Keep this receipt to take to the vehicle inspection site. The cashiers at the counter will tell you that you don’t need to make an appointment, just show up.
Tip: Even though IRD opens at 8:00 am, the counter doesn’t open until 8:53 am. However, if you do show up early at 8:00 am then you could beat the crowds and only 1 person might push in line.
Step 2: Go to the vehicle inspection site to get your vehicle inspected
From IRD, drive past Central Market, past the big church, and turn at the first left: a paved road that turns into gravel. Follow this road with spidey senses tingling as there is no sign. Look out for a queue of vehicles waiting to be let into the compound for testing.
From MID, go all the way into Point Cruz to do a U-turn onto the other side of the road and head back east. From there, same directions as going past the Central Market above.
At the vehicle inspection site, an officer with a clipboard will walk down the queue every now and then to make sure all vehicles are supposed to be there. When he sees your car, he will tell you that you’re not on his list. Tell him that the cashier just told you to come without an appointment and that you have a receipt for a vehicle inspection. He’ll then tell you that you should’ve made an appointment. No appointment, no vehicle testing.
Retrospective step 2a: Make an appointment before you go to the vehicle inspection site
Step 2b: Look gutted
If you look sad enough, the clipboard-man will tell you to go wait in the secondary queue: the queue for people who didn’t make appointments. Just wait here for roughly an hour and 40 minutes until the queue of people who made appointments beforehand are all gone.
We heard toktok about giving the officer some “fish and chip” money to hasten the process. We don’t know anything about that.
Step 3: Get your vehicle inspected
Once you get called into the gates thinking that you’ve finally been saved, you’ll be disappointed to find that you’ve only just come to the SECOND waiting area inside the compound.
Wait for another 30 minutes.
When ready, the inspection only takes about five minutes and your vehicle will undergo the following:
- The inspector drives the car up a small ramp.
- While on the ramp, the inspector tests the horn, headlights, and turn signals.
- The inspector drives off the ramp and passes the vehicle to a colleague who opens the bonnet to inspect.
If your vehicle passes, inspection man will give you a vehicle inspection certificate confirming that your vehicle is roadworthy!
Step 4: Go to an insurance company to buy insurance
If you still have time left in the day go to your preferred insurer. Insurance is compulsory in the Solomon Islands. We used Tower Insurance at Panatina Plaza on the East side of town. To buy insurance, it’s a simple process of giving the salesperson your name, address, car rego, and SBD147. This should take five minutes and then you’re set and insured for another year.
Step 5: Go back to IRD to finally get your car licenced
Now that you have both your vehicle inspection certificate and proof of insurance, you may now face the final boss at IRD’s counter number 2: the Vehicle Licencing Counter. Show up and show them your two items, pay SBD825.
Voila you have earned yourself the right to have your car Solomon Islands’ roads for another year.
Now that I’ve survived that ordeal, I will definitely take up the offer from my office driver for him to do it next time.