Driving Guide

Argentina Driving Guide

Argentina is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

2023-12-18 · 9min read

Renowned for its breathtaking diversity, Argentina is a premier destination in South America. This country boasts landscapes from Buenos Aires's streets to Patagonia's majestic vistas.

If you want to fully explore Argentina's attractions and activities, renting a car can give you the freedom and convenience you need. In Buenos Aires, there may be instances of encountering aggressive drivers, but overall, driving in Argentina is considered safe.

Driving is most stressful in Buenos Aires city and its surroundings.

Once you find yourself in the expansive terrain of Patagonia, for example, things relax.

Erin, a Texas expat based in Buenos Aires, shares in her post Driving In Argentina: Everything You Need To Know published on the Solsalute travel blog.

Explore Argentina at Your Own Pace

To be fair, if you’re going to be spending most of your time in Buenos Aires, I wouldn’t say it’s necessary because the city is walkable, Uber is cheap, and there’s a good subway system. But once you’re outside of the capital, having a car becomes a major advantage.

We spent 3 weeks driving around Argentine Patagonia, which was an absolutely amazing experience. We definitely couldn’t have done this without our own wheels. Plus, driving ourselves meant we could pull over whenever we wanted to observe wildlife and take detours to explore hidden gems that we happened upon.

Dan and Bailey share in their post, 16 Things to Know BEFORE Renting a Car in Argentina, published on the Destinationlesstravel blog.

Argentina is best explored by car, so we've put out this guide to help you craft an unforgettable travel experience.

Let's take a closer look at Argentina

Before diving deeper into Argentina's driving culture, here are some interesting facts to know about this South American destination:

Geographical Location

Argentina, a country of grandeur and diversity, shares its borders with six states, nestled alongside Chile to its west and south. To its north lie Bolivia and Paraguay, while to the east, it embraces Brazil, Uruguay, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Situated in the southern part of South America, Argentina's landmass surpasses the combined size of Mexico and Texas in the United States.

The country boasts a variety of natural landscapes, including vast plains, dense forests, expansive tundra, deserts, towering mountains, and coastlines. It also lays claim to territories in Antarctica and several South Atlantic islands

Languages Spoken

While Spanish is the official language of Argentina, it's a unique variant known as Argentine Spanish, bearing a closer resemblance to Italian in its sound than to the Spanish spoken in Spain. Besides this local dialect and various other regional dialects, languages such as German, French, Italian, and English are also spoken.

English, however, is relatively uncommon, so tourists are advised to learn basic Spanish phrases to facilitate easier interaction with locals, who often appreciate the effort to communicate in their language.

Land Area

Argentina is divided into four main regions: the North, Pampas, Andes, and Patagonia, with the Pampas region being the agricultural heart of the country. Covering an area of 1,073,364 square miles, Argentina has a population of approximately 44 million, with Buenos Aires as its capital city.


Before Spanish colonization in 1516, various indigenous tribes inhabited Argentina. The Spanish conquest brought significant changes, including attempts to incorporate the region's port cities into the Spanish Empire.

The short-lived Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, established in 1776, paved the way for Argentina's independence in 1816. Despite gaining freedom from Spanish rule, the country faced internal civil wars for decades. It wasn't until 1853 that Argentina's constitution was formalized, establishing a national government. Today, Argentina stands among the world's most prosperous nations.


Argentina operates under a federal system of governance, a structure adopted following historical conflicts between the central government and provincial factions. The highest offices in the country are the President and Vice President, supported by a cabinet of ministers responsible for the nation's administration.

At the provincial level, separate leaders govern, while local jurisdictions are managed by mayors with four-year terms, focusing on the essential needs of the citizens. Despite facing challenges, this system has undergone several reforms to ensure its effectiveness.

International Driving Permit FAQs

Upon concluding a spectacular road trip adventure, the next thing is to know about getting an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in Argentina. It is an exclusive permit allowing foreign individuals to drive abroad.

Is A Local Driver’s License Valid in Argentina?

Foreign nationals with a valid driving license from their home country are generally permitted to drive in Argentina, provided they meet certain criteria. It's crucial to check whether you're required to obtain an International Driver's Permit (IDP). Here are the specifics:

  • Exemption for Certain Licenses: If your license is in English or issued by an EU State, the European Economic Area, Australia, England, South Africa, Switzerland, or the United States, you may not need an IDP.
  • Vienna Convention on Road Traffic: Licenses from countries party to this convention are also typically exempt.

For those not covered by these exemptions, acquiring an IDP is necessary. For a smooth and speedy transaction, you can apply through the International Driver’s Association website. Even if exempt, individuals may still obtain an IDP for additional peace of mind.

Is Driving with a U.S. License Allowed in Argentina?

U.S. residents with a valid U.S. driving license can drive in Argentina without needing an IDP, as the U.S. is among the countries recognized for this exemption.

Is Driving with a UK license Allowed in Argentina?

U.K. nationals must obtain an International Driver's Permit to drive in Argentina. Information and application procedures can be found on the International Driver’s Association website.

Do I Need An IDP to Drive in the Cities and Districts of Argentina?

An IDP is generally required for international driving, with exceptions for certain nationals (EU State, EEA, Australia, Switzerland, United States, South Africa, and countries in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic).

In Argentine cities, possessing an IDP is mandatory, with checkpoints common in the capital. While district areas may have fewer police checks, it's still advisable for third-country nationals not covered by the exemptions to have an IDP, along with their original driving license. Losing these documents can lead to complications on the road.

Does an IDP Replace a Native Driver’s License?

It's important to understand that an IDP is an official translation of your native driver’s license and does not replace it. Driving in a foreign country without an IDP, when required, is considered illegal.

Always adhere to local laws and regulations to avoid negative implications on your driving record. An IDP should always accompany your original driver’s license.

Is Argentina Using KpH or MpH?

In Argentina, the unit of speed measurement used is kilometers per hour (KpH). The country emphasizes the importance of wearing seatbelts and adhering to alcohol limits to prevent drunk driving incidents.

Despite these safety measures, there are instances where drivers exceed posted speed limits. This is why road signs in Argentina display the maximum allowable speeds, helping drivers stay within legal limits.

What Should You Do in Case of an Accident?

It's important to have contingency plans for unexpected road emergencies. In the event of an accident, call emergency services at 101 and await professional assistance. Avoid intervening if you lack the necessary expertise.

When an authority officer approaches you for further questions, provide them with honest answers. Don't panic and remain calm during these types of situations.

Renting a Car in Argentina

Opting for car travel has become increasingly popular for its freedom and flexibility. Renting a car in Argentina allows you to tailor a unique travel experience, free from time management constraints. It puts you in complete control, enabling you to immerse yourself in your Argentina trip entirely.

Car Rental Companies

Booking a rental car online can streamline your travel preparations, often offering discounts and perks. Top-rated rental companies in Argentina include:

  • Rentacar
  • Sunnycars
  • Budget Cars
  • Europcar
  • Localiza
  • Alamo
  • Winterfell Rent a Car Bariloche Patagonia Argentina

Exercise caution to avoid scams and verify the legitimacy of online sites. If uncertain, you can always rent a car directly at the airport.

Required Documentation

To rent a car, you’ll need to present several key documents:

  • International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
  • Valid native driver’s license
  • Original passport
  • Credit or debit card

Ensure you have the contact details of your rental provider for emergencies.

Vehicle Choices

Selecting the right vehicle is crucial for an enjoyable trip. Consider the following options based on your travel needs:

  • Economy
  • Compact
  • Intermediate
  • Standard
  • Mini
  • Full-size
  • Premium
  • Intermediate SUV

A four-wheel drive is recommended for country areas and long distances.

Car Rental Cost

Rental prices vary based on demand, season, vehicle maintenance, and brand. Costs typically include pick-up service, gas mileage, emergency kits, and sometimes insurance.

Age Requirements

The legal driving age in Argentina is 17, but rental companies require drivers to be at least 21.

But, you should first enroll in a driving school for proper training. If you want to rent a car, you should be at least 21 years old. Charges depend on the age bracket.

Car Insurance Cost

When you book in advance, you will be most likely to get full liability insurance. It is best when you reserve ahead of time as rental cars’ availability is limited in some areas in Argentina. Getting insurance protects you in case of unexpected circumstances on the highways. But, be wary of securing insurance through an agent. It can cost you double the price.

To avoid cashing out a large sum, call your credit card office. Ask them if they can cover a rental car abroad. If you are an owner of a private car in your country, contact your car provider. Verify if they can add insurance covering a foreign rental car. Doing this will prevent you from spending too much.

Car Insurance Policy

A car insurance policy is a legal document that can cover any damage and injury acquired if you get involved in a road accident. Policy coverage may vary depending on the type of insurance you are planning to purchase.

There are three standard policies that you may encounter when making a reservation for a car rental. Third Liability Insurance, Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)/Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), and Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) are among the popular policies you may check out.

The Third Liability is a famous one. It’s mandatory insurance to have when driving abroad. The CDW/LDW can pay up to the maximum damage repairs and medical expenses incurred in the accident. The PAI can help both drivers and occupants to aid their injuries without adding any fee upon getting medical treatment.

The Road Rules in Argentina

Acquaint yourself with Argentina's road rules and regulations to ensure a safe and responsible driving experience. Additionally, strive to uphold responsible driving behavior and steer clear of recklessness on the roads.

Familiarize yourself not only with standard driving practices but also with specific local regulations. By staying informed and exercising caution, you can not only avoid violations but also guarantee a secure and pleasant journey.

Driver and Vehicle Readiness

Before setting out, ensure you are fully alert and in good physical condition. Avoid driving if you feel unwell or impaired, particularly by alcohol.

It’s also essential to check your vehicle’s condition, including having a sufficient supply of driving kits and equipment, spare tires, and a first aid kit. Families with children should use appropriate car seats.

Mobile Device Usage

Using handheld mobile devices while driving is strictly forbidden. Your full attention should be on the road. If necessary, opt for a vehicle with a hands-free system to stay connected safely.

Parking Guidelines

Avoid parking on sidewalks to prevent risks and legal issues. Opt for designated parking lots, pay any required fees, and do not leave valuables in the car. Always keep your driving documents, including your IDP and local license, safely with you.

Seatbelt Laws

All passengers must wear seatbelts. Children aged 12 and under should be seated in an appropriate child seat. Check with your car rental provider about the availability of child seats.

Drunk Driving Regulations

Do not drive if you have consumed alcohol, as even a small amount can put you over Argentina's legal blood alcohol limit of 0.05%. Consider arranging for a designated driver if you're planning to drink out to avoid legal issues and license revocation.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Argentina vary by location and are enforced to maintain traffic flow and safety. These include:

  • Residential Areas: 40 km/h
  • Urban Areas: 60 km/h
  • Suburban Roads: 80 km/h
  • Highways: 120 km/h

Driving Directions

When crossing country borders, foreign drivers must watch out for the sudden merging of roads. Typically, after passing a particular expressway, you have to drive through the unified roadway before entering the state’s checkpoint. You must also be vigilant when yielding on a roundabout. Give way whenever possible to do so. Be sure that when letting another vehicle move ahead, there’s a leeway between the vehicles.

Traffic Road Signs

Like most countries, Argentina also uses warning signs, information signs, mandatory signs, and prohibitory signs. Learning the road signs in Argentina is crucial for safe driving. Familiarize yourself with warnings, information, and mandatory and prohibitory signs to navigate effectively and safely.

Right of Way

In Argentina, the general rule is to drive on the right side and overtake on the left. Honking first often indicates the right of way, especially in Greater Buenos Aires.

Overtaking Laws

While the left lane is designated for overtaking, it's crucial to approach this maneuver cautiously and only when it is safe. Ensure a sufficient gap between your car and the vehicle in front before overtaking, and always signal your intentions.

Patience and timing are key; reckless overtaking poses a safety risk and can lead to legal penalties.

Understanding the Driving Side

For those accustomed to driving on the right side of the road, adapting to driving in Argentina should be straightforward. Remember, the right side is for regular driving, while the left is designated for overtaking.

Driving Etiquette in Argentina

Exhibiting courteous and respectful behavior while driving reflects your character and professionalism. Responsible driving and adherence to road etiquette are important aspects of being a considerate tourist in a foreign country.

Dealing with Car Breakdowns

Should your vehicle break down, it's important to:

1. Find a Safe Spot: If your car starts malfunctioning, look for a safe area to pull over.
Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers.

2. Use Reflective Jackets and Warning Triangles: Wear a reflective jacket and place
warning triangles approximately 30 meters from both the front and rear of your

3. Keep Passengers Safe: Avoid letting passengers exit the car, especially in unfamiliar
or potentially unsafe areas.

5. Contact Your Rental Provider: In case of an emergency, call your rental agency for

6. Seek Local Help: If needed, ask for help from nearby residents, using basic Spanish
phrases for communication.

Police Interactions and Checkpoints

Borders and checkpoints are mostly situated when you pass the Chilean territory and the states along the Pan-American Highway.

This is because you have to be prepared for checkpoints, especially when crossing borders. Present your IDP, home country's driver's license, passport, and rental car documents upon request. Greet officers politely and follow their instructions.

Here are the primary papers you have to possess to guide you upon passing the checkpoints:

  • International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
  • Original Foreign Passport
  • Valid Driving License
  • Copy of Approved Itinerary
  • Copy of Rental Car Documents

Asking Directions

In situations where GPS or navigation apps fail, knowing basic Spanish phrases can be invaluable in asking locals for directions.

Here are the common phrases you can easily use when asking an Argentinean for directions.

  • Excuse me!- Disculpe
  • Ma’am / Sir- Señora / Señor
  • Do you speak English?- Habla usted Inglés?
  • How do I get to the park?- ¿Cómo llego al parque?
  • Is this the right way?- ¿Voy bien por aqui?
  • Do you know if the mall is around here?- ¿Sabes si está por aquí el centro comercial?
  • Turn right / left- Gira a la derecha/izquierda
  • Can you repeat that please?- ¿Lo puedes repetir, por favor?

Driving Conditions in Argentina

While Buenos Aires may have aggressive drivers, conditions are generally calmer outside the capital. Respect for pedestrians is high, and adhering to road signs and signals is expected. Ensure you always carry your IDP and local driving license when driving across Argentina.

Accident Statistics

Risks and dangers on the road are always present. In Argentina, they initially did not have a good record of safety on the highway. Back in the year 2009, the country recorded 22 fatalities per day.

However, a decade later, Argentina reduced the number to 15 daily accidents out of their 45 million population. Now, explorers can safely drive in South America without worries. Argentine authorities have strongly developed numerous innovative solutions for driving.

Common Vehicles

The popularity of car rentals in Argentina has grown, with compact cars being a common choice for their affordability. Automatic vehicles may require a special request.

Toll Roads

Argentina’s toll roads, especially in the capital and at state borders, facilitate smoother traffic flow but require a fee. Plan your route accordingly, particularly if taking the iconic Pan-American Highway, which spans 15,000 miles across 14 countries.

Road Situations

While urban roads in Argentina are generally well-maintained, rural areas might have less developed roads. Always follow traffic signs and maintain your IDP for a safe and legal driving experience. See our International Driving License pricing for more information.

The Top Road Trip Destinations in Argentina

See the captivating sceneries of Argentina as we explore the top road trip destinations that promise a blend of natural wonders, serene getaways, and historical treasures.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls, straddling the border of Brazil and Argentina, is a world-renowned natural wonder. Nature enthusiasts will find visiting these falls both enlightening and an opportunity to appreciate environmental conservation.

The best time to visit is between April and June, the dry season, offering ideal conditions for exploration. Avoid the crowded months of January, February, and Easter Holidays, or visit from August to September for cooler weather suitable for hiking and biking.

Buenos Aires Province

For a serene getaway, visit Buenos Aires Province, known for its beautiful landscapes and historical sites. The best times to visit are during the fall (April to June) or spring (September to December).

Historic Córdoba Cathedral

Córdoba, Argentina's second-largest city, is a hub for those en route to the Andes and a treasure trove of historical landmarks. The Córdoba Cathedral, a mix of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, is a must-visit. The best time to visit is from May to September, with milder weather and less rainfall.

Get an IDP to Explore Argentina

Planning your next adventure? Consider renting a car in Argentina, securing an International Driver's Permit, and setting off on a journey that promises to be as thrilling as the destination. Drive safe, and let the wonders of Argentina unfold before you!

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