How to Obtain an International Driver Permit

By: Staff Writer August 13, 2012
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An international driving permit and auto insurance are strongly recommended for international travel – even if you don't plan on driving. Recognized in 174 countries, it contains your name and photo – serving as a handy photo ID – and driver license information translated in 10 different languages.

An international driver permit is not a replacement for your driver license, but merely an addendum to help, if needed, to communicate with foreign authorities.

Apply for an International Drivers Permit (IDP)

The U.S. Department of State has authorized two automobile clubs to issue IDPs:

  • American Automobile Association (AAA)
  • National Automobile Club

You may apply for an International Drivers Permit if:

  • You're at least 18 years old.
  • You have a valid drivers license. You cannot apply if you only hold a drivers permit.
  • Your drivers license must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the IDP issue date.

To apply, complete an international driving permit application. You can download one from either the AAA's or National Automobile Club's websites. Complete the application, making sure to sign it.

Submit IDP Application in Person

Deliver the completed application in person to either your local AAA or National Automobile Club office. Keep in mind that if you downloaded an application from the National Automobile Club, you must submit it to the National Automobile Club, not the AAA (the applications are agency-specific).

Along with the application have:

  • Two original passport-size photos.
  • Your driver's license.
  • Payment to cover the $15 permit fee.

Submit IDP Application by Mail

Send the completed form to the address clearly posted at the bottom of the application.


  • Two original passport-size photos.
  • A photocopy of both sides of your driver's license. Sign the photocopy to validate its authenticity.
  • A check or money order to cover the $15 permit fee.

Plan accordingly. Processing generally takes up to two weeks. If you're in a hurry, the National Automobile Club does offer expedited service for an additional fee.

The international driving permit is valid for one year. You must carry it along with your regular driver's license when driving internationally. You cannot, however, use it, in place of your driver license when operating a vehicle in the U.S.

Do you or someone you know use an international driver permit? How handy is it?

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