Why Get an IDP: 6 Benefits of International Driving Permit

Why Get an IDP: 6 Benefits of International Driving Permit

Why You Need an International Driving Permit

IDA Driver Checking IDP
WRITTEN BYMaricor Bunal
PUBLISHED ONSeptember 15, 2023

What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a helpful document that allows travelers to drive legally in foreign countries. Recognized by over 165 countries worldwide, an IDP serves as a certification of a valid driving license from the individual's home country.

Having an IDP ensures that law enforcement officials and rental agencies in other countries can easily understand the driver's credentials.

What are the advantages of having an IDP

An International Driving Permit (IDP) can offer various benefits to those planning to drive in a foreign country.

1. Universal recognition and ease of communication:

An IDP serves as a universally recognized form of identification, translating your driving credentials into 12 languages. This feature is invaluable when interacting with law enforcement or car rental agencies in foreign countries, ensuring smooth communication and understanding.

Moreover, obtaining an IDP can be particularly advantageous for short-term tourist trips, business travel, or road trips abroad as it eliminates the need to obtain a local driver's license and navigate the often complex application process.

By presenting an IDP, foreign drivers can confidently and legally explore different destinations and rent vehicles from car rental agencies without any hassle.

The IDP provides assurance to both the driver and the rental companies that the driver holds a valid license and is aware of the traffic rules and regulations.

Overall, an IDP allows international drivers to fully enjoy and safely navigate foreign roads, making it an essential item for any traveller planning to drive in another country.

2. Access to global destinations:

With an IDP, you can confidently explore over 165 countries, including those under the United Nations' 1949 Convention on Road Traffic. Even in countries that are not signatories to the Convention, an IDP is still widely accepted as a valid form of identification for driving.

While some countries might accept a US or English driver's license, having an IDP ensures you're prepared for any situation, eliminating potential complications.

Moreover, renewing your local driving license on time is crucial. A valid license is a prerequisite to obtaining an IDP, and it serves as the foundation of your driving abilities. Additionally, holding an updated license eliminates any legal concerns and helps you navigate traffic rules or regulations in foreign countries more easily.

3. Simplified car rentals:

Renting cars abroad becomes much easier when you have an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP provides several benefits that simplify the car rental process and ensure a smooth experience in foreign countries.

An IDP streamlines the process. Rental agencies can easily validate your license, and you're assured of compliance with local driving regulations. Moreover, it signals to agencies that you're a prepared and competent driver, potentially leading to a smoother rental experience.

Without an IDP, some rental agencies may require additional documentation or even deny you the opportunity to rent a car.

Make sure to obtain an IDP before your next trip to simplify the car rental process and enjoy a seamless experience.

4. Law enforcement recognition:

The IDP's recognition by international law enforcement can't be overstated. Rooted in the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic and recognized by 184 countries, it serves as a testament to your driving qualifications.

Whether on a leisurely road trip or a business excursion, an IDP provides peace of mind, ensuring you're driving legally and confidently.

In essence, the recognition of an IDP by law enforcement in foreign countries ensures compliance with driving requirements and demonstrates your readiness to operate a motor vehicle overseas.

It offers peace of mind, protects you from potential issues, and enhances your overall driving experience.

5. Overcoming language barriers:

Driving abroad can be challenging, especially with potential language barriers. The IDP, translating your credentials into multiple languages, ensures that whether you're in Spain or Japan, local authorities can understand your driving qualifications with ease.

To ensure a hassle-free experience, it is important to carry both your IDP and original driver's license while driving internationally. The IDP acts as a supplementary document to your original license, validating its legitimacy and providing a translated version.

6. Skip the license exchange at borders

One of the major benefits of having an International Driving Permit (IDP) is that you do not need to exchange your driver's license at borders when travelling to foreign countries.

By not needing to exchange licenses at borders, you can seamlessly continue your road trip, business trip, or international adventure without any interruptions.

What are the requirements for obtaining an IDP?

Before driving internationally, it's crucial to be equipped with an IDP. Obtaining an IDP is a straightforward process. To acquire one:

  • Complete an application form.
  • Provide two passport-size photos.
  • Pay the application fee.

Whether on a road trip, business trip, or short-term tourist excursion, an IDP is a valuable document that helps ensure that travellers adhere to local driving rules and regulations while also allowing them to make the most of their international driving capabilities.

Who is eligible for an IDP?

To be eligible for an International Driving Permit (IDP), individuals must meet certain criteria and provide necessary documents.

To qualify for an IDP, applicants must:

  • Possess a valid domestic driver's license.
  • Be a resident of a participating country.

In conclusion, anyone with a valid driver's license and who resides in a foreign country can be eligible for an IDP.

This document serves as a valuable asset for international travellers, enabling them to navigate foreign traffic rules and regulations with ease.

Car rental agencies abroad often require an IDP, and it can facilitate interactions with foreign law enforcement.

How to apply for an IDP?

Applying for an International Driving Permit requires a few necessary steps. To ensure a smooth application process, it is important to gather all the required documents and fees beforehand.

Step 1: Gather Required Documents

Before applying for an IDP, make sure you have the following documents ready:

  • Two original passport-size photos.
  • A cheque or money order for the application fee.
  • A copy or photocopy of your current driver's license.

Step 2: Complete the Application Form

Fill out the IDP application form accurately and legibly. Make sure to include all the necessary information, such as your personal details, driver's license information, and country of residence.

Step 3: Submit the Application

There are three options for submitting your IDP application. You can either mail it, visit a local AAA branch in person or apply online for faster processing and delivery.

Step 4: Pay the Application Fee

Include a cheque or money order for the application fee along with your application form. The fee may vary depending on your location, so it is important to check the current fee before submitting your application.

Once you have completed all the necessary steps and submitted your application, it will be processed by the relevant authority.

Upon approval, you will receive your IDP, which will serve as a valid form of identification and proof of driving requirements in foreign countries.

What is the processing timeframe for an IDP?

The processing timeframe for obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP) can vary depending on the method chosen to apply.

If applying in person at a full-service AAA branch, the processing time is typically between 1 to 2 business days. This option allows for a quicker turnaround time, making it ideal for individuals who need the IDP.

On the other hand, if applying by mail, the processing timeframe may be longer due to the time it takes for the application to reach the destination and for it to be processed and returned. The duration can range from 2 to 4 weeks, so it is important to plan accordingly and apply well in advance of any travel plans.

Another option would be to apply online. International Drivers Association provides a quick and seamless application process, and the duration can be as quick as 8 minutes for digital IDPs and 2 weeks for physical IDPs.

Once obtained, an IDP is generally valid for one year from the date of issue. However, it is important to note that the IDP is only valid in conjunction with a valid driver's license from the country of residence.

Therefore, the IDP needs to be regularly renewed along with the driver's license to ensure its continued validity.

How to renew an IDP?

Renewing an IDP is straightforward. Check its expiration date, fill out the renewal form, and submit the required documents and fees. Make sure to renew it well in advance to avoid any travel disruptions.

Who needs an IDP?

If you're thinking about hiring a car in a country where they don't commonly speak English, it's a good idea to get yourself an International Driving Permit.

1. Expatriates

For expatriates who have moved to a new country for work or other reasons, an IDP can be a lifesaver. It provides a sense of independence, allowing you to drive around without relying on public transport or taxis. This can be especially useful in countries where public transportation might not be as developed or reliable.

2. International Students

Studying abroad is an exciting experience, and having the freedom to drive can make it even more enriching. With an IDP, international students can explore their host country more extensively, making weekend trips and discovering hidden gems that might not be accessible by public transport.

3. Tourists

For tourists, renting a car can often be the most efficient way to explore a destination, especially if it's off the beaten path. An IDP ensures that you can rent a vehicle and drive it legally, giving you the freedom to create your itinerary and explore at your own pace.

4. Travelling for Business

If you're travelling for business, time is often of the essence. Having an IDP allows you to rent and drive a car, ensuring that you can get to meetings, conferences, and other business-related events on time. It eliminates the need to wait for taxis or navigate public transport systems in a foreign language.

When do you need an IDP?

It is important to note that the validity of an IDP varies depending on the country. Generally, an IDP is valid for one year from the date of issue or until the expiration date of your driver's license, whichever comes first.

It is important to renew the IDP annually if you plan on driving in foreign countries regularly.

Not having a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) can have serious legal implications when driving in foreign countries.

If caught driving without an IDP, you may face penalties such as fines, citations, and, in some cases, arrest and deportation.

For example, in Japan, driving without a valid IDP can result in hefty fines, possible imprisonment, and even deportation.

To ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience abroad, it is highly recommended to obtain an IDP before travelling to any foreign country where it is required.

By doing so, you can confidently navigate the roads, avoid legal issues, and fully enjoy your international driving experience.

How to avoid fake IDP providers?

When it comes to obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP), it is crucial to avoid fake IDP providers at all costs.

Purchasing a fake IDP can have serious consequences and put you at risk of legal trouble, penalties, and even deportation.

To ensure that you are obtaining a legitimate and valid IDP, it is important to obtain it from organizations such as the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the International Drivers Association.

There are several warning signs that can indicate a fake IDP provider:

One key warning sign is if the provider is offering an IDP without requiring the necessary documents and application process.

Legitimate organizations will always ask for proper identification, a copy of driver's license and passport-sized photos.

Additionally, fake IDPs may lack the necessary security features, such as holograms and seals, which are present in authorized IDPs.

To avoid falling victim to fake IDP providers, it is essential to be aware and informed.

Research and verify the organizations that provide IDPs in your country. If you're applying for an IDP online, always read reviews of IDP users.

Don't risk your driving privileges and legal status by using a fake IDP; always choose authorized providers to obtain your international driving permit.


An International Driving Permit is more than just a document. It's your passport to a hassle-free international driving experience. Always check with the issuing authority for the most up-to-date information.

Don't leave your driving privileges to chance. Apply for an IDP today and make your international trips worry-free.

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