An International Driving Permit (IDP) will allow you to drive legally in over 150 countries. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know before you leave!
Many countries worldwide make you get an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you can drive one of their rental cars or a car that you’ve rented from your favorite travel websites like Expedia, Kayak, Hotwire, and Priceline. Therefore, you must understand which countries require or recommend an IDP before you book your trip to avoid any surprises. Also, what is it? Should I get one? How much does it cost? Will they ask me for it when I am abroad?
Whether you’re driving or commuting worldwide, an international driver’s license (IDL) can be beneficial for your business trip or vacation. In addition, you may be required or recommended to carry an IDL/IDP by rental agencies in certain countries.
Here’s everything you need to know about this helpful document that will allow you to get behind the wheel on your business trip or vacation abroad!
What Is an International Driving Permit?
A driver’s license is a document that shows that you are allowed to drive in a particular country or state. It is issued by the government of the specific country where you live. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is an internationally recognized document that translates your valid driver’s license into ten different languages and allows you to drive in 174 countries legally. The IDP is not a substitute for your regular license but rather a translation of your license into ten languages.
Travelers to unfamiliar places have often found themselves in trouble with local authorities when they do not have the correct paperwork. However, an international driver’s permit does not guarantee that you will drive legally in every country you visit.
In some countries, foreign driver’s licenses are not recognized; and even if they are accepted, you may need additional documents and insurance. You cannot use the IDP to replace your current driver’s license at home, but it can be used as a supplement should you need it.
Traveling is much easier when you have an International Driving Permit and have reviewed essential guides ahead of travel. Why? There is no need for translation or interpretation between the language that appears on your foreign driver’s license and the one in which the police officer who pulls you over knows. This inherent translation into the local language makes everything more straightforward and more efficient.
There are two types of IDPs issued by AAA (the American Automobile Association) and those issued by AATA. The one given by AAA is printed on thick card stock, which makes it challenging to fold, tear or alter in any way. The one issued by AATA is printed on thin card stock and is more flexible.
You can apply for an IDP at any AAA office or certain passport agencies. If you live near a AAA location, it might make sense to save yourself the postage and apply through them. The cost of obtaining an IDP varies depending on where you live; it is free of charge in many states. However, fees as high as $25 are levied by local authorities or AAA offices.
Usefully, an IDP fits nicely into a passport and can be kept there as an added safeguard during travel.
The International Driving Permit provides you with peace of mind while driving abroad so that you don’t have to worry if getting pulled over by authorities. The IDP also helps foreign police identify what documentation they need to write out a ticket if they pull over a non-native driver. Tripiamo Guides provide you with peace of mind while driving abroad so that you don’t have to worry about learning unfamiliar road rules/regulations and getting unnecessary tickets and driving illegally.
Be aware that an IDP does not mean you will be allowed to rent a car in each given country; check out the rental car agencies’ recommendations before renting a car (many recommend you have an IDP). An international driver’s license is also known as an International Driving Permit.
Which Countries Require an International Driving Permit and Why?
There are many reasons why an international driver’s permit is required.
First, some countries require an IDP when entering that country. And, it is necessary to keep your IDP with the United States driver’s license.
Some countries require it for liability reasons, so if you’re involved in an accident there, your insurance can cover damages even if you were at fault. Other countries require an international driver’s permit to guarantee that you can be held accountable for traffic violations, such as speeding or driving without a seat belt. Still, other countries require it because their driving licenses are not valid outside of the country’s borders.
The following countries require an IDP: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea (Republic), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and more.
Other countries that require an International Driving Permit include Barbados, Bulgaria, Chile (for vehicles over nine seats), Denmark (for vehicles over 3500 kg), Egypt (for vehicles over 3.5 tons and buses), Finland (for cars over 12000 kg), Iceland (vehicles over 3.5 tons), Jamaica (for vehicles over 3500 kg), Lebanon (for vehicles over 7500 kg), Luxembourg (for all vehicles), Namibia (for all cars), Norway (for all motor homes/caravans – class C1 and C2 only) New Zealand (if your vehicle is registered outside N.Z.), Portugal (in addition to national permit), South Africa, and Spain.
If you’re driving in a foreign country, make sure your international driver’s permit is valid and up-to-date before leaving U.S. soil. And remember, it is always best to keep your international driving permit with your U.S. driver’s license.
How to Get an International Driving Permit Easily.
International Driving Permits (IDPs) are required in certain countries to drive legally. So, if you’re planning to drive abroad through one of these countries, you must obtain an IDP. And, it would be best if you carried both your IDP in addition to your U.S. driver’s license when you are behind the wheel.
If you don’t have an international driving permit, you can obtain one from the American Automobile Association (AAA). The AAA IDP costs can vary, up to $25 generally, and is valid for one year from the date of issuance (or the expiration of your U.S. state-issued driver’s license).
The process for obtaining a U.S. state-issued IDP varies by state but is generally a simple matter of filling out some forms and paying a fee.
To apply, you may need to provide:
- A copy of your birth certificate or passport
- Your current U.S. state-issued driver’s license
- Proof of identification, such as a U.S. passport or naturalization certificate
- Payment for the fee, which varies by state and can be around $15
Along with that information, you will also need to fill out an application form and have it signed by either a notary or a representative at the customer service center of your local AAA office. Some states will not require this signature if you are physically present at the AAA office.
Is an International Driving Permit a Requirement to Drive Abroad?
A valid driver’s license alone is not enough to drive abroad legally in many countries. The country you’re visiting may require you to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your home country’s license.
If you are going to drive in another country, you may need an International Driving Permit. An IDP is not a visa and does not entitle you to drive in a foreign country. You may still need to buy a local driver’s license.
It is important to note that fines for driving without an IDP can be costly. So, it is essential to check countries’ requirements before travel.
For instance, Italy requires all non-EU citizens over 18 to have an IDP when driving. The fine for being caught without one is €90. See our page Italy Driving License for more information on applying for an Italian license. Another example, you must have an International Driving Permit (IDP) from your home country when driving in Australia. The fine for being caught without one is A.U. $100 plus the cost of any infringements issued by police at the time of apprehension.
Fortunately, there is some good news for American travelers, as more than 35 countries recognize U.S.-issued driver’s licenses without requiring an additional permit or license. However, this does not mean that you can take any car into any country; there are some exceptions to the rule, so be sure to check the requirements on the U.S. Embassy website before you venture out on unfamiliar roads.