The international driver’s license (also known as the “international driving permit” or IDP) is a translation of your domestic driver’s license that enables you to drive legally in more than 174 countries. It is not a replacement for your home driver’s license, and you must still carry it with you while driving in any country where it’s required or recommended by rental car companies or the police. In order to obtain an international driver’s license, you must be a permanent resident of the United States and have a valid US state driver’s license. You can apply for an IDP at your local AAA office or via the Internet. The IDP is valid for one year and must always accompany your driver’s license.
Many companies claim to offer an international driving permit but be careful not to confuse it with a real driver’s license. These documents do not extend your driving privileges to other countries but simply translate your name and photo into multiple languages. They may be helpful when renting a car but are not valid forms of identification. An IDP is not a license but a booklet that verifies in several languages that you have a valid driver’s license. It’s a good idea to get one before traveling abroad because it may save you from fines or even detention if pulled over in a country that requires an IDP. It’s also helpful for car rental companies who might require you to have one for liability and insurance purposes.
How to Apply for International Driving Permit?
You can obtain an IDP through a worldwide network of AIT/FIA organizations duly authorized by their governments. The permit contains an official translation of your national driving license and includes your photograph and vital statistics. Most countries require visitors to have an IDP, but rules vary from one country to the next. For example, Germany requires that US citizens staying less than a year bring their national license and an IDP. In addition, they must present proof that they will leave the country before the year is up.
You must be 18 years old and a US citizen to apply for an IDP. You must also have a valid driver’s license from your home state or territory that is valid for six months beyond the start date of your trip. Only certain organizations are authorized to sell IDPs, including the national automobile association (AAA in the US). You can get one at a AAA branch or by mail. The cost is $20, and it takes 10-15 business days to receive it by mail from AAA. You must also submit two passport-type photos, a photocopy of your current driver’s license, and a check or money order to cover the permit fee and handling costs. Getting an IDP will overcome many language barriers and will make it easier for you to communicate with local authorities in case of an accident or emergency while abroad. However, it does not exempt you from following the rules and standards set by the host country’s traffic department.