If you’re planning a trip outside the U.S. and you want to have the flexibility to drive a vehicle during your stay, an international drivers permit is the best way to ensure you can drive and rent a car legally, without delay or hassle. Licensing and other legal requirements for operating a motor vehicle can vary significantly from one country to another, making renting or driving a vehicle problematic in many cases.
Is the International Driving License a Valid Document for Driving Abroad?
International driving permits, or IDPs, were established by the United Nations Convention on Road Safety and are recommended by the U.S. Department of State to ensure visitors to foreign nations have the documentation necessary to rent and operate motor vehicles right away, providing a uniform certification that serves as proof that the driver is licensed and meets the legal requirements to drive.
Nearly 200 countries recognize IDPs, making them an indispensable option for any traveler planning to drive, as well as those who want the peace of mind of knowing they can drive if and when necessary during their trip.
Benefits of having an International Driving License?
In addition to providing legal documentation of your eligibility as a driver, international driver permits offer other benefits as well:
- They’re available in multiple languages, which means your permit will be readable by officials in many countries, including police officials and rental car agents.
- They’re required for car rental in many countries. Many rental agencies will not rent vehicles to visitors who do not have IDPs, which means you could wind up with an unpleasant surprise when you attempt to rent a car or other motor vehicle.
- They’re required for insurance purposes. Your own car insurance and travel insurance policies often fall far short of providing coverage while you’re driving outside the boundaries of the U.S. As a result, many insurance policies require IDPs to provide that critical coverage.
- An IDP is instantly recognizable. Unlike state licenses which may be difficult to interpret or validate overseas, an IDP provides instant verification of your qualifications as a driver.
International Driving Permit (IDP) Requirements
To receive an international driver permit, you must meet these specific requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must have a valid state-issued driver’s license that is not scheduled to expire for at least six months.
- Your license must not be suspended.
How can I obtain an IDP?
IDPs are issued by the American Automobile Association and the National Automobile Club. Membership in either organization is not required in order to apply for an IDP. However, you will need:
- the completed and signed IDP application form
- two passport-type photos for use on your IDP
- a photocopy of your state-issued license showing both the front and back of the license
- permit fee, currently $15.00, payable by check, money order or with some credit cards
Issuance may take up to nine days, but in some cases, it can be expedited. Once issued, your international driver permit will be valid for one year. When it expires, it cannot be renewed; instead, you’ll need to reapply.
What Is an International Driving Permit?
The driver’s permit is a well-recognized form of identification that might make it simpler for you to deal with foreign authorities if the need arises. If you want to get an International Driver’s Permit, the following are steps you should take.
The requirement for International Driver’s Permit
Meet the requirements for application. For example, you must be 18 years old to apply. Also, you must have held a valid driver’s license in your country of citizenship for at least six months.
Find out where to get the permit in your country of citizenship. For example, In the United States, you can only get the International Driver’s Permit through the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA). Other countries have their own specific organizations that sell the permit as well.
How to Apply for International Driving Permit?
Apply for your International Driver’s Permit either via mail or in person. At the time of application, either in person or via mail, you will need to show your valid driver’s license from your country of citizenship. Also, you will need to show two passport-style photographs of yourself.
Pay the fee to get the permit. You must pay for the permit using MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card or Visa Card. Or, depending on what your country of citizenship is, you might be able to pay for the permit using a money order or bank check.
Select how fast you want the permit to be processed. Regular processing speed is typically 15 days; however, you could get expedited service so that you could receive the permit in as few as two days. Once you are approved for the permit, keep in mind that the permit is valid for one year from the date of issue. Carry both your driver’s license from your nation of citizenship and carry your International Driver’s Permit when you are driving in a foreign country.