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International Driving Permits Defined

Date posted: 08/13/2012

by Melissa Crumish on
in Drivers License & ID

4511 International Driving Permits DefinedIf you plan on driving while traveling abroad, plan on obtaining an international driver permit (IDP). You might also consider looking into international auto insurance coverage.

This document, which is recognized in 174 countries, contains your name and photo and driver license information translated into 10 different languages including German, Italian, and Russian. Not only does it prove your right to be behind the wheel, but also serves as a legitimate form of photo identification.

Many countries require carrying one along with your regular drivers license. Even in nations that don’t mandate an international driving permit (IDP), it’s still a good idea to have. If you’re stopped by local authorities, an IDP will better explain your right to operate a vehicle than say your New Hampshire drivers license.

In addition, an IDP will expedite the rental car process in a foreign country.

Keep in mind that an IDP cannot be used as a replacement for your regular drivers license when driving in the U.S.

International Drivers Permit Eligibility

An IDP is good for one year, starting from the date of issuance. You may apply if:

  • You’re 18 or older.
  • You own a valid driver’s license. You’re application will be rejected if you only hold an instructional permit.
  • Your drivers license must be valid for at least six months past the issuance of the IDP.

You can only apply for an IDP in your own country. This means if you’re in Poland, for instance, and decide to drive, you will not be eligible to apply through an authorized Polish agency.

As a U.S. citizen you can only obtain an IDP from an agency authorized by the State Department, and currently there are only two authorized agencies:

  • National Automobile Club
  • American Automobile Association (AAA)

You can, however, apply through either agency while traveling abroad. This would require downloading an application and submitting it, along with two passport-size photos, a photocopy of both sides of your drivers license, and proper payment (usually in the $15 range), to the respective agency. Processing will take several weeks.

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