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IDP is essential when driving abroad

driving abroad with idp

International Driving Permit (IDP), regulated by the United Nations, certifies that you are the holder of a valid driver's license in your country of origin.

documents needed for international driving permit

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world.

How to get your IDP


Fill in the forms

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Driving in Malaysia opens up a whole new world of opportunity and adventure. With an international driving permit, you can explore this diverse and beautiful country at your own pace. No more relying on public transportation or expensive tours – an international driver's license allows you to hit the road and discover Malaysia on your terms.

View of AKLEH Elevated highway and the Petronas Twin Towers
Source: Photo by qaz farid on Unsplash

Is IDP required in Malaysia?

If your local driving license is not in English or Malay, you will need an International Driver’s License to rent a car and drive in Malaysia. Most, if not all, car rental companies will ask for an International Driver’s License in addition to your domestic driving license.

While it is not required to who's domestic driver's license is in English or Malay, having one is still highly recommended.

Here’s why you need an IDP in Malaysia

While an IDP might appear to some as a mere translation of their domestic license, it offers many benefits to drivers in Malaysia.

1. Easy communication with authorities

Having an IDP makes communication with authorities easier if you are stopped for a traffic violation or get into an accident. Most countries recognize the IDP as a valid form of identification, which can help avoid potential language barriers and confusion.

2. Access to remote areas

Malaysia has diverse landscapes and natural beauty, making it a popular tourist destination. With an IDP, you can easily rent a car in Malaysia and explore remote areas that may not have public transportation options. This allows for a more authentic and immersive travel experience.

3. Peace of mind

Traveling in a foreign country can be stressful, especially when navigating transportation. With an IDP, you have the added reassurance that you are legally allowed to drive and won't face any issues with authorities or car rental companies. You can visit the best places in Malaysia without worrying about transportation restrictions.

Learn how to get an IDP for Malaysia

In general, there are two ways in which you can obtain an International Driver’s License in Malaysia.

Online Application

The first would be through an online application. You can apply for an IDP via the International Driver's Association (IDA) website where you will need to submit a scanned copy of your domestic driver's license and a passport-size photo. The application process is quick and easy; you can receive your digital copy within 8 minutes.

Aside from convenience, it is recommended that you have your IDP ready before you arrive in Malaysia to avoid any potential delays or complications.

In-person Application

Another way is to apply personally at the Malaysia Automobile Association (MAA) office. You must bring your domestic driver's license, a passport-sized photo, and an application form. The processing time may take up to 2 hours, so it's important to plan accordingly.

How much does an IDP cost?

This depends on the provider you choose. The IDA charges USD $49, while the MAA charges around RM150 for in-person applications. It is important to note that these are in addition to any fees charged by your domestic driver's license issuing authority.

If applying in person, consider transportation costs to and from the MAA office. To avoid the hassle, it is recommended that you apply for an IDP online.

How long is an IDP valid for?

Most international driving permits issued by an organization like the IDA or MAA are valid for one year from the issue date. This validity period may vary if you obtain an IDP through a different organization, so checking before applying is important.

If you are traveling for a long period or will be staying more than a year in Malaysia, we recommend you get the 3-year option from IDA for $79. This includes physical and digital copies, so you can easily renew your IDP.

Do I need an IDP in other countries?

As mentioned, over 150 countries recognize the International Driver's License, including popular tourist destinations such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. However, to ensure an IDP is accepted, checking with the country's issuing authority or embassy is always recommended before traveling.

To give you a better idea, here are some other countries that accept the International Driver's License:

  • Greece
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • France
  • Thailand
  • Indonesia

Just as securing a passport is necessary for international travel, obtaining an IDP can make driving abroad a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

Feel free to check out the full list on the IDA website.

Can I use my U.S. driving license in Malaysia?

Those with a valid US driver's license can use it in Malaysia for up to 90 days. Although you are not required to obtain an IDP, it is still recommended that you have one for the benefits mentioned above.

Many people often overlook the need for an IDP when traveling, but it is a small investment that can provide peace of mind and ease of travel in a foreign country.

Driving trips for travelers in Malaysia

Georgetown Dispensary heritage building in Penang, Malaysia, under blue skies
Source: Photo by Sandip Roy on Unsplash

Before we end this guide, here are some quick driving tips for travelers in Malaysia:

1. Always drive on the left side of the road.

2. Pay attention to road signs and speed limits.

3. Be cautious of motorcycles, as they are a popular mode of transportation in Malaysia.

4. Avoid driving during rush hour traffic in major cities.

5. Plan your route ahead of time and have a GPS or map with you.

6. Always keep important documents such as your IDP, driver's license, and car rental agreement with you.

7. Obtain insurance for your Malaysia trip, including car rental insurance, for added protection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I renew my International Driver’s License while in Malaysia?

If your IDP is issued by the IDA, you can easily renew it online. However, if your IDP is issued by a different organization, it's best to check with them for renewal options.

What should I do if I lose my International Driver’s License in Malaysia?

You can easily apply for a replacement IDP through the organization that issued it. Have a scanned copy of your lost IDP and other required documents ready. To avoid such situations, keeping your IDP in a safe place and having a digital copy as well is recommended.

Are there any specific driving rules in Malaysia that I should know?

Speed limits and driving side are probably the most important rules to remember in Malaysia. However, it is also good to know that honking is prohibited within city limits unless there is an emergency or dangerous situation. Knowing toll roads and having enough cash for payment is also important.

Can family members share one International Driver’s License when driving in Malaysia?

Unfortunately, no. Individuals who plan to drive in Malaysia must have their own valid International Driver's License. However, renting a car under one person's name and having them listed as the main driver may be possible if you are traveling together.

Are there restrictions on vehicle types I can drive in Malaysia with an International Driver’s License?

Most car rental companies in Malaysia will let you drive a standard vehicle with an IDP. However, if you plan to drive a motorcycle or a larger vehicle like a truck, it's best to check with the rental company beforehand. It is also important to note that your IDP must match the class of vehicle you are driving for it to be valid.

Are there any other requirements for driving in Malaysia?

Aside from having a valid IDP, other requirements before traveling to Malaysia include having a valid passport, travel visa (if required), and any necessary vaccinations. International travel insurance is also recommended for added protection.

Ready to check if an IDP is accepted in your destination?

Use the form and find out in seconds whether you need an international permit. Documents vary, based on the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic.

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