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This map provides details of which countries are signatories of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968, and their status i.e whether they are signatories who have ratified the convention into law or not.

Its important to understand that those who have not ratified the convention are not bound by the convention.

An important part of the convention is Part 1, Chapter 1, Article 3, Paragraph 3 which says that “Contracting Parties……shall be bound to admit to their territories….motor vehicles….which fulfil the conditions  laid down in Chapter III of the Convention”.  (Broadly that they will comply with the registration requirements of the country of origin).

In the case of Costa Rica and Right hand drives, Costa Rica was a Signatory on 8 November 1968 but never Ratified the Convention.

Therefore Costa Rica is not a party to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic until it ratifies, and Costa Rica is therefore not bound by it. Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties does impose an obligation on a State that has signed, but not yet ratified, a treaty not to defeat the object and purpose of that treaty. However this is ill-defined in international law and would not necessarily mean that Costa Rica is obliged to allow RHD vehicles to enter.

New signatories

Interestingly, two countries that have been problematic for Right hand drive vehicles, have ratified the convention.

  • Vietnam  20 August 2014
  • Saudi Arabia 12 May 2016

We will be working with our embassies in the region to enquire whether it is now possible for RHD vehicles to enter both countries.

Amendments to the Vienna Convention

In 2016 amendments to the Vienna Convention were put forward to allow automated vehicles to legally drive on roads, thus removing the requirements for steering controls and such. In the coming years there will be a succession of amendments to the convention to allow this as it evolves.



Signature Subject to Ratification, Acceptance or Approval

Where the signature is subject to ratification, acceptance or approval, the signature does not establish the consent to be bound. However, it is a means of authentication and expresses the willingness of the signatory state to continue the treaty-making process. The signature qualifies the signatory state to proceed to ratification, acceptance or approval. It also creates an obligation to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would defeat the object and the purpose of the treaty.

[Arts.10 and 18, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969]


Ratification defines the international act whereby a state indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty if the parties intended to show their consent by such an act. In the case of bilateral treaties, ratification is usually accomplished by exchanging the requisite instruments, while in the case of multilateral treaties the usual procedure is for the depositary to collect the ratifications of all states, keeping all parties informed of the situation. The institution of ratification grants states the necessary time-frame to seek the required approval for the treaty on the domestic level and to enact the necessary legislation to give domestic effect to that treaty.

[Arts.2 (1) (b), 14 (1) and 16, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969]


“Accession” is the act whereby a state accepts the offer or the opportunity to become a party to a treaty already negotiated and signed by other states. It has the same legal effect as ratification. Accession usually occurs after the treaty has entered into force. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his function as depositary, has also accepted accessions to some conventions before their entry into force. The conditions under which accession may occur and the procedure involved depend on the provisions of the treaty. A treaty might provide for the accession of all other states or for a limited and defined number of states. In the absence of such a provision, accession can only occur where the negotiating states were agreed or subsequently agree on it in the case of the state in question.

[Arts.2 (1) (b) and 15, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969]

For more glossary terms, visit the UN Treaty Collection’s Glossary of terms relating to Treaty actions. The UN Treaty Collection also has a page with Definition of key terms used in the UN Treaty Collection


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