International Driving Permit

Recognized in 150 countries, an international driving permit translates your driver's license into 10 different languages and can help you avoid costly fines if stopped by police. In addition, many major rental car companies require an IDP. This article will cover keynotes on International Driving Permit.

An international driving permit is a translation of your domestic driver’s license that gives you the freedom to drive vehicles in countries that recognize it. It’s a small document that contains ten languages and displays the person’s first name, last name, date of birth, home address, and photograph. Most countries signatories to the 1949 UN Convention on Road Traffic recognize international driving permits, including many popular travel destinations in Europe. However, it’s best to contact your embassy or consulate before your trip to find exactly what you need to bring.

If you want to have the freedom to explore a country at your own pace, an international driver’s permit is a necessary tool. It verifies in multiple languages that you’re a legitimate driver with a valid home license, and it helps police officers understand your situation if they aren’t familiar with the language on your passport or local driving license.

How to Apply for International Driving Permit
International Driving Permit 1

How to Apply for International Driving Permit?

An international driving permit (IDP) translates your domestic driver’s license into different languages and is accepted in more than 150 countries. However, an IDP is not a replacement for your national driver’s license, and it’s essential to carry both when traveling abroad. You can obtain an IDP through the American Automobile Association Travel Office, also known as AAA. You can apply for an IDP in person or by mail. You’ll need:

  • A completed application
  • Two passport photos
  • Photocopies of the front and back of your existing domestic driver’s license
  • A check or money order for the $20 permit fee.

To avoid any confusion when traveling, it’s a good idea to contact your local embassy or consulate about the driving requirements in the country you’re visiting. Some countries require IDPs, while others only recognize IDPs for liability and insurance purposes. An IDP is not a license to drive, but it can help you avoid fines and other problems in case of an accident or traffic violation.

To get an IDP, visit your local branch office of the American Automobile Association (AAA) to fill out an application. The organization is authorized by the US State Department to issue IDPs. If you’re not a member of AAA, you can still obtain an IDP but may be subject to additional fees and delays. You should also be aware that serious traffic violations committed by drivers with foreign licenses could impact their future immigration status.

International Driving Permit Online Application
International Driving Permit 2

International Driving Permit Online Application

You can also apply for an IDP online through the AATA website. It will take a bit longer than going to an AAA branch, but it is still fairly simple to complete. You’ll just need to complete the application, include a photocopy of both sides of your driver’s license, and send in your payment. You’ll receive it in the mail once you’ve submitted your completed IDP. It will come in a small booklet marginally larger than your standard driver’s license. It will contain the translations and details of your domestic driving license in the languages of the country you are traveling to, and it will also list the vehicle classes you are authorized to drive.

Courier Services for IDP Application

An IDP is valid for a year or until your domestic driver’s license expires and isn’t transferable. Car rental agencies, law enforcement, and other local officials may ask to see it before giving you a license, so plan ahead and keep it in your wallet. Another option is to use a courier service that can expedite the process by applying on your behalf. Since it takes 4-6 weeks to receive an IDP by mail and there are no AAA locations outside the United States, this is often your best bet for travelers already abroad.

Beware of fake IDPs, as they could lead to hefty fines or worse. Only work with a company that has been authorized by the Department of State to issue the documents. Also, be aware of scams, as criminals can use bogus IDPs to steal your identity and cause trouble when traveling. You can report any suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission. Get more travel tips, insider news, and exclusive deals by signing up for TPG’s newsletter.

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