Travelling abroad? Check this to see how to get an International Driver’s Permit and if you even need one where you’re going!
If you’re travelling abroad and thinking about driving a car there, you’re probably wondering if you need any extra documentation to do so legally. An International Driver’s Permit (or License) may be the first thing that pops into your head — and rightfully so.
What is an International Driver’s License?
An International Driver’s Permit (IDP), sometimes also referred to as International Driver’s License, is — in simple terms — a translated version of your driver’s license. It is translated into 10 languages, so it makes it much easier for you when you’re driving abroad.
The IDP is valid in 150 countries all over the world, but only accepted when presented with your original driver’s license.
Do I need an International Driver’s Permit?
When you’re going to a different country, the first thing you need to know is that not all countries will allow you to drive in their territory with your US or home country’s driver’s license.
Each country has different rules for foreigners visiting and driving in their territory, so we suggest you first check this piece of information before moving on to get an IDP. Chances are you won’t even need to worry about this!
However, don’t celebrate too soon. Here’s a list of some famous European destinations that require that you have an International Driver’s Permit — either because they don’t recognize an US driver’s license or because it requires a local translation:
This is just a small list. Again, we know we’re repeating ourselves here, but this is important: check if your destination country requires an IDP before anything else!
Even if your destination requires an IDP, please keep in mind that you might not be asked to show this document at all. This doesn’t mean that it’s ok not to get one — you will be fined if asked to present your IDP and fail to do so.
That is exactly why we always recommend that you get an International Driver’s Permit — even in the cases you don’t have to. Some countries and car rental companies may not require you to have one at all, but it can come in handy if you’re pulled over. That is easy to understand, as police officers might not be able to read English well. It’s a reasonably small investment for the hassle that an IDP might save you from.
How do I get an International Driver’s Permit?
If you need an International Driver’s Permit where you’re going or are just looking to avoid some headache if you’re pulled over, here’s what you need to know.
There are only two licensed IDP issuers in the US: AAA and AATA. You may find others online, but you shouldn’t even consider them — they are scams!
Both AAA and AATA offer mail options. All you have to do is mail them the information they need in order to issue your IDP and you’re done! Alternatively, AAA also offers this service at their branch offices.
Either way, here’s a list of the documents you need in order to apply for an International Driver’s Permit:
- IDP application form, signed (can be downloaded from the AAA or AATA websites)
- Two original passport pictures in color taken in the last 6 months
- Driver’s license (for the mail option, a photocopy) valid for at least 6 months after the date your IDP is issued
- $20 USD permit fee (the fee is the same for both AAA and AATA)
Please note that the IDP is valid for one year and only in conjunction with your original driver’s license. Once the year is over, it’s not possible to simply renew the document and a new application must be submitted.
Now, if you’re planning to drive abroad, here’s a tip: you can compare car rental prices in over 160 countries with the help of Rentcars.com. Just check out our website or search below to find the best deals!