Convention on the Regulation of Automotive Traffic, Signed at Washington, October 6, 1930 15

The Governments of the American Republics, desirous of establishing uniform rules among themselves for the control and regulation of automotive traffic on their highways;

Have decided to conclude a convention for that purpose and to that end have conferred the necessary powers upon their respective representatives;

Who, having met at the Pan American Union in Washington on October fourth, one thousand nine hundred and thirty, have agreed upon the following provisions:

Article I

It is recognized that each State has exclusive jurisdiction over the use of its own highways, but agrees to their international use as specified in this Convention.

Article II

All vehicles before admission to international traffic shall be registered in the manner prescribed by the State of origin. In addition to the registration plate of the State of origin, each vehicle shall carry a plainly visible international registration marker, of the form and type of plaque markers provided for by the International Convention for the Circulation of Automobiles, 1909, as amended in 1926,16 as follows:

The distinctive plaque is composed of an oval plate, 30 centimeters wide by 18 centimeters high, bearing from 1 to 3 letters painted black on a white background. These letters shall be capital Latin [Page 298] letters and must be at least 10 centimeters high and their profile 15 millimeters. For motorcycles, the distinctive plaque shall be only 18 centimeters wide and 12 centimeters high. The letters themselves shall measure at least 8 centimeters high and their profile 10 millimeters.

The distinctive letters for the different countries are the following:

Argentina RA Haiti HA
Bolivia R. B. Honduras HS
Brazil BR Mexico MEX
Chile R. Ch. Nicaragua NIC
Colombia CO Panama R. P.
Costa Rica C. R. Paraguay PY
Cuba C Peru PE
Dominican Republic R. D. United States of America U. S. A.
Ecuador EC Uruguay R. O. U.
El Salvador E. S. Venezuela V
Guatemala GU

Article III

Evidence of proper registration in any of the Contracting States shall entitle all such vehicles to international reciprocity.

Article IV

All motor vehicle operators shall have such driving certificates as may be required by the laws of their State. A special international traveling pass in the form and containing the information prescribed by the International Convention for the Circulation of Automobiles, 1909, as amended in 1926, shall also be required for admission to international traffic.

The international automobile certificate issued in any one of the Contracting States shall be worded in the language prescribed by the legislation of the said State.

The final translation of the certificate into the official languages of the Contracting States shall be communicated to the Pan American Union by each of the Governments party to this Convention.

Article V

Each State or its subdivisions shall maintain central bureaus of registration for purposes of exchange of information with other States as to registration of vehicles and operators.

Article VI

The rule of the road shall be to pass on the right when meeting another vehicle and to pass to the left when overtaking.

[Page 299]

Article VII

All vehicles approaching an intersection shall yield the right of way to vehicles which have entered the intersection. When two vehicles enter an intersection at the same time the vehicle on the left shall yield to that on the right.

Article VIII

All vehicles admitted to international traffic shall have the following equipment:

Brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and to hold such vehicle, including two means of applying the brakes, each of which means shall be effective to apply the brakes to at least two wheels and so constructed that no part which is liable to failure shall be common to the two. A motorcycle shall be equipped with at least one brake.
Suitable horn or other warning device satisfactory to the regulatory authorities, which shall not make excessive noise.
Every motor vehicle other than a motorcycle, road roller, road machinery or farm tractor shall be equipped with two head lamps, at the front of and on opposite sides of the motor vehicle, which shall at all time, under normal atmospheric conditions and on a level road, produce a driving light sufficient to render clearly discernible a person 200 feet ahead, but shall not project a glaring or dazzling light to persons in front of such lamp.
Every motor vehicle and every trailer or semi-trailer which is being drawn at the end of a train of vehicles shall carry at the rear a lamp which exhibits a red light plainly visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of such vehicle and so constructed and placed that the number plate carried on the rear of such vehicle shall under like conditions be so illuminated by a white light as to be read from a distance of 50 feet to the rear of such vehicle.
No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway unless such motor vehicle is equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.

Article IX

Any vehicle entering another State shall register at the point of entry, but shall not be required to post bond until a lapse of 90 days since it last entered the country.

Article X

All vehicles and drivers in international traffic are subject to the regulations, not in conflict with the articles of this Convention, of the State in which they are operating.

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Article XI

Danger, restriction and direction signs shall be made uniform as between the several States.

Article XII

The size of vehicles and loads shall be limited to the following:

No vehicle shall exceed a total outside width, including any load thereon, of 8 feet, except that the width of a farm tractor shall not exceed 9 feet, and excepting further, that the limitations as to size of vehicles stated in this section shall not apply to implements of husbandry temporarily propelled or moved upon the public highway.
No vehicle with or without load shall exceed a maximum height of 12 feet.
No vehicle shall exceed a length of 33 feet, and no combination of vehicles coupled together shall exceed a total length of 85 feet.
No vehicle or train of vehicles shall carry any load extending more than 3 feet beyond the front thereof.
No passenger vehicle shall carry any load extending beyond the line of the fenders on the left side of such vehicle nor extending more than 6 inches beyond the line of the fenders on the right side thereof.
Special permits for vehicles or combinations of vehicles exceeding these limits may be issued by the competent authority of the State.

Article XIII

The present Convention shall be deposited with the Pan American Union, which shall furnish a certified copy thereof to each Government, member of the Union.

The Convention shall be ratified by the Contracting States and the instrument of ratification shall be deposited with the Pan American Union, which shall communicate notice of each deposit to all the Contracting States.

The Convention shall come into effect for each Contracting State on the date of the deposit of its ratification with the Pan American Union.

The American Republics which have not subscribed to this Convention may adhere thereto by depositing with the Pan American Union an instrument evidencing such adherence, a certified copy of which shall be furnished by the Pan American Union to each State member thereof.

This Convention may be denounced by any Contracting State and the denunciation shall take effect twelve months after the receipt of [Page 301] the corresponding notice by the Pan American Union, which shall communicate notice of such denunciation to the other Contracting States. Such denunciation shall not affect the validity of the Convention as between the other Contracting States.

In witness whereof, The undersigned delegates have signed this Convention in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and thereto have affixed their respective seals.

For Argentina: J. A. Valle [seal]
Jose I. Girado [seal]
For Bolivia: Geo. de la Barra [seal]
For Brazil: S. Gurgel do Amaral
Presidente da Delegação Brazileira, ad referendum do Governo Brazileiro.
G. M. de Menezes [seal]
S. Arnaldo A. da Motta [seal]
For Chile: Alberto Fernández R. [seal]
O. Tenhamm V. [seal]
For Colombia: Carlos de Narváez [seal]
Enrique Coronado Suárez [seal]
For Costa Rica: J. P. Arango [seal]
For the Dominican Republic: Persio C. Franco
ad referendum
For Ecuador: Homero Viteri L. [seal]
For Guatemala: Adrián Recinos [seal]
Ramiro Fernández [seal]
Ed. Jeanneau [seal]
For Honduras: Felix Canales Salazar [seal]
For Mexico: A. Becerril Colín [seal]
Leopoldo Farías [seal]
For Nicaragua: Juan B. Sacasa [seal]
For Panama: J. R. Guizado [seal]
For Paraguay: Pablo M. Ynsfran [seal]
For Peru: Eduardo Dibos D. [seal]
For El Salvador: Julio E. Mejía [seal]
F. A. Reyes, H. [seal]
For Uruguay: Mario Coppetti [seal]
Juan P. Molfino [seal]
Carlos A. Rabassa [seal]
For Venezuela: Fco. J. Sucre [seal]
For the United States of America: J. Walter Drake [seal]
  1. “The 1930 Convention was never submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The principal objections raised to the 1930 Convention, so far as this Government was concerned, were:

    It would have overridden State laws dealing with subjects theretofore within the exclusive control of the various States.
    It would have required Federal legislation creating an official agency for the administration of detailed obligations assumed by the Federal Government under the Convention, or the authorization of the performance of official duties by a private organization for the purpose of such administration, or both.…”—The Acting Chief of the Treaty Division (McClure) to the Chief of the Division of International Conferences (Kelchner), August 20, 1941. (515.4D2A/68)

  2. Convention with respect to the international circulation of motor vehicles, signed at Paris, October 11, 1909, Great Britain, Treaty Series No. 18 (1910), p. 311; international convention relative to motor traffic, Paris, April 24, 1926, Great Britain, Treaty Series No. 11 (1930), p. 1.