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Traveling across the world is a top bucket-list item for many people. If you plan on driving overseas sometime soon, you might want to consider getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you take on the open road. Also known as an “international driver’s license” or “international permit,” an international driving permit is easier to obtain than you may think.  

What is an International Driving Permit? 

An International Driving Permit issued by the Post Office for U.K. drivers after the country leaves the E.U. in the wake of Brexit
An International Driving Permit | Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

An International Driving Permit allows you to drive a car in another country and shows authorities you are legally allowed to drive in your home country. That means to obtain one, you must have a valid driver’s license issued by your state. IDPs are also recognized by many major car rental companies across the world.

According to UpgradedPoints, “IDPs can be issued to anyone 18 years or older who has had a valid driver’s license for 6 months or longer. You must also be a permanent resident of the U.S. or a U.S. territory. It’s also important to remember that you’ll want to apply for an IDP before leaving for your trip, so advanced planning is required.”

How do you get an International Driving Permit in the USA? 

Keep in mind that in the United States, International Driver Permits are only issued by two companies: the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). 

If you’re not a member of AAA, there’s no need to worry. AAA issues International Driver’s Permits to the public. You can apply for an IDP by mail or from any full-service AAA branch in person. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • A completed application. You can stop by any AAA branch or download and print one from the website.
  • Two passport-size photos with your signature on the back
  • A check or money order for the $20 application fee, plus tax
  • A current driver’s license from your home state or U.S. territory

If you’re planning on applying by main, be sure to send your application, fee, and a copy (front and back) of your driver’s license to any full-service AAA branch. Be sure to allow 10-15 days for delivery.

Does an IDP cover all countries? 

No, an International Driving Permit does not cover all countries, so be sure to conduct some research before planning your trip. This form of identification is, however, valid in over 180 countries. The best part? It will translate your identification information into 10 different languages.

Keep in mind that United States driver’s licenses are considered valid by Canada and Mexico for visitors on short-term tourist trips, so you won’t need an IDP. 

Is getting an International Driving Permit worth it?

If you are over 18 and you want added peace of mind while driving internationally, an International Driving Permit is worth it. Plus, it’s a quick and easy process. You should always check the driving requirements and laws of the countries you will be driving in. That way, you will know what is required if the local authorities stop you.


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