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How To Obtain an International Driver’s Permit

by Allie Moore

Oct 23, 2019

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Tips / Travel

Despite what travel forums and bloggers may tell you, driving in a foreign country requires more than just a passport and a U.S.-issued driver’s license. Most car rental companies abroad will require potential renters to possess an international driver’s permit, something that needs to be arranged before you depart.


An IDP must be shown along with your driver’s license (which must be valid for six months beyond the first day of your trip) and passport, and contains your basic information translated into nine languages. The permit can be obtained from the Automobile Association of America or the American Automobile Touring Alliance.


To apply for the permit, valid for one year, travelers can apply in person at their closest AAA office with two passport-sized photos, a valid driver’s license, a completed application form and a permit fee of $20, and the association will produce your permit that day. Travelers also can submit these application materials by mail, with photocopies of their license instead of their actual license. Processing the permit by mail takes 10–15 days. Applying from abroad is also possible, but will take about four to six weeks with standard shipping rates.


Those who rent and drive a car without this permit and are pulled over and/or experience an accident may face heavy fines from local authorities, so while some advocate the permit isn’t necessary, it may be best to obtain one as an additional insurance policy.


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