• Wed. Nov 16th, 2022

Before I get into the actual travel report, I wanted to share my experience of obtaining an International Driver’s Permit. I rarely rent cars when I travel, but since we were going on a road trip it was a bit necessary.

Tiffany cleverly suggested that I drive – not because she’s a bad driver, and not because I’m a great driver, but because I am a significantly worse passenger than driver.

Driving in Romania requires an international driving license, so I had to get one before the trip. I expected this to be a tedious process, but to my surprise it was swift and seamless.

I wish I had this in the past, as last summer I was in Greece and wanted to hire an ATV, but was informed that the country had cracked down and started demanding displaced people.

In this article, I wanted to describe my experience finally picking up an IDP.

What is an international driving license?

Essentially, an international driver‘s license is a form of identification that translates your driver’s license information into 10 languages. Many countries require this because they may not have a convenient way to know if your license is valid.

IDPs are valid in approximately 150 countries around the world (you can find the countries that honor them on page two of this document). You must always present your valid IDP in conjunction with your valid driver’s license.

While IDPs are issued in many countries around the world, if you have a US driver’s license, your IDP must also be issued in the United States.

How to get an international driving license?

You can get an IDP through AAA, which I did, and in my experience I would say it couldn’t be easier. It is the largest organization authorized by the US State Department to issue them.

To get an IDP you need:

  • To complete an application, which you can download online or complete in person at an AAA branch
  • You will also need two original passport photos, which you can either bring with you or have taken at an AAA branch
  • You will need a valid US driver’s license
  • You will need to pay a $ 20 fee for the IDP

Then you have two options to process your request through AAA:

  • If it’s convenient for you, you can simply go to your nearest AAA branch
  • You can also send your completed IDP application form, two original passport photos, $ 20, and a copy of both sides of your driver’s license, to the nearest AAA branch.

How long is an international driving license valid?

The IDP is valid for one year. In my case, my driver’s license is only valid for six more months. However, it looks like the IDP would be transferred to a new driver’s license because the IDP doesn’t list my driver’s license number anywhere.

Do you need to take a test to get an international driving license?

There is no sort of testing or anything required to get an IDP. An IDP does not somehow certify you as an outstanding international driver or that you know the rules of the road in the world.

Rather, it is about translating and confirming that you have a valid driver’s license in the United States (or any other country in which you issued it).

My experience of applying for an IDP

I stopped by an AAA office in Tampa two days before our trip and did not bring the request or photos. To my surprise, the process couldn’t have been easier and took maybe 10 minutes in total.

I explained to the person at the entrance that I needed an IDP. She asked for my driver’s license and gave me a short form to fill out.

She then charged me $ 33 for the IDP plus passport photos. The photos were taken in a minute and then I was taken to another office, where a guy was issued by IDP. It was a printed flyer (it’s quite big because it’s in 10 languages), then he just wrote a few of my personal details in there, and put an AAA stamp on it.

Final result

I delayed getting an international driver’s license for so long because I thought it would be painful. Fortunately, that was not the case at all. I visited an AAA branch a few minutes from the Tampa airport (where I had just landed anyway), and the whole process only took 10 minutes.

If you have an international driving license, what has been your experience?

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