An international driving permit is a document recognized by more than 150 countries. This is a booklet that translates your existing driver’s license information into 10 or more languages. An IDP can help your next overseas road trip go more smoothly; most foreign authorities will appreciate you carrying this document, and some even require it. But the US government does not issue international driving licenses – you will need to visit your local AAA branch for this.
How to get an international driving permit?
US citizens can only obtain an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) through their local AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) – depending IDP.org. Applying from abroad can take six weeks or more, so it’s a good idea to get an IDP in person before you travel.
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To obtain your International Driver’s Permit, you will need a valid US driver’s license, $20 fee, and two original passport photos. Some AAA offices are equipped to take these passport photos on site, but it’s worth calling ahead to confirm.
All you have to do is fill out an application form with all your information and present your driver’s license. The AAA team will then attach your photo to a new IDP Booklet and fill in your name, city of birth, date of birth and city of residence. Once you’ve signed it and they’ve stamped it, you’re good to go.
More tips for getting an international driving license
First, a AAA International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is valid for a maximum of one year. So if you won’t be traveling for a while, ask the AAA team to set a permit start date for some time in the future. Note that if your national driver’s license expires before the end of a year, so does your PCI.
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If your PCI expires while you are abroad, you can renew it by mail. This should be a faster process than applying for a brand new IDP from the AAA overseas. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get this app way before you need it.
Finally, be sure to report any special endorsements you have on your US license so the AAA team can note them on your IDP. The IDP used by the United States was created by a convention of 101 countries that took place in Geneva in 1949. Therefore, it considers any vehicle over 7,700 pounds or with more than 8 passengers as a special class .
When I pointed out that even a standard US license allowed me to drive up to 15 people and a GVWR of up to 20,000 pounds, my AAA team verified that I had those endorsements. “specials”. I have yet to find out if foreign authorities will honor these special endorsements, but I can’t imagine it will hurt to at least have my US license details translated.
Do you need an international driving license to drive abroad?
The truth is that many travelers drive in many foreign countries without an international driving license. You will need to check the specific laws of the country you are traveling to. Even if your destination does not require an IDP, this can still be an important document to have.
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Many countries actually allow you to drive on their roads without IDPs for short vacations. But many also need an IDP for longer-term travelers or expats.
In any foreign country, the local authorities will appreciate the kindness of providing you with a translated driver’s license. Anything that can make an inconvenient foreign trip easier is a good investment.
Finally, while a foreign government may not require an IDP, private companies may require one to rent a car. If you plan to rent while traveling overseas, be sure to check the fine print before arriving without an IDP.
Then find out how to unlock an electric scooter abroad or learn more about getting an IDP in the video below:
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