If you're considering renting a car internationally, it can be handy to have an international driver's permit or license. An international drivers permit (IDP) allows you to drive a vehicle in another country, as long as you also have a valid drivers license issued by your state. An IDP is recognized as valid identification in over 175 countries. Many major car rental company require an IDP for international rentals.
Time Required: One day up to a few weeks (walk in processing vs. through the mail)
- Where to get a valid International Driver's Permit. In the United States, International Driver Permits (IDPs) are only issued by the American Automobile Association and the National Automobile Club. The State Department recommends against purchasing an IDP from other outlets.
- Understand the details. IPDs can be issued to anyone over 18 who has had a valid drivers license for six months or longer. They typically remain valid for one year, or the expiration of your existing state driving license. It's important to investigate an IPD before your trip and make sure you know the requirements.
- Select a provider. Go to either the AAA or National Automobile Club's website and print out the International Driving Permit Application National Automobile Club's information and application; AAA's information and application
- Complete the application. Fill in all applicable fields.
- Send it in or visit a local office. Once you have the application completed, you can send it in via the mail, or visit a local office of an organization like AAA. In either case, you'll also need 2 original passport-sized photos and signed copy of your valid U.S. drivers license. You'll need to also enclose a check for the fee (typically $15)
- AAA offices can process IDPs during your visit. If you send the application in, processing generally takes 10-15 business days. Expedited services may be available to get your license within 1 or 2 business days
- Make sure you also carry your U.S. driver's license when driving internationally. It will be needed in addition to your IDP.
- Make sure to enclose the proper fees (the fee for the IDP, as well as any shipping and handling fees), photos, and photocopies of your license.
- Check the driving requirements and laws for the countries you will be driving in. For example, if you're driving in Italy, you'll need an International Drivers Permit if you are stopped or encounter the authorities.
What You Need
- Computer with Internet access
- Completed application
- A copy of your valid U.S. driver's license
- 2 passport photos
- Check or money order, or credit card