International Driver's License In United states: Drive Locally Like A Pro
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IDP is essential when driving abroad
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.
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.
- Required by car rental agencies worldwide
- You must be 18 years or older to apply
- No test is required
How to get your IDP
Fill in the forms
Have your driver’s license and delivery address handy
Verify your ID
Upload pictures of your driver's license
Wait for confirmation and you’re ready to go!
International Driver’s License for U.S. Citizens
If you are a US citizen planning to drive in a foreign country, securing an international driving permit (often referred to as an international driver’s license) is essential.
This international driver’s document serves as a translation of your native driving license, allowing authorities abroad to quickly verify your driving credentials. With an international driver’s license (IDL), you can navigate new roads with confidence and legality.
Whether for vacation or business, understanding the application process and driver’s license requirements for the country you are visiting is crucial for smooth travel.
Here are key facts about the IDP for US citizens:
- It is not a stand-alone document or a replacement for a valid driving license.
- It can only be issued to drivers with a valid domestic driver’s license.
- It does not override local laws or diminish your responsibility to follow the regulations of the countries you visit.
- Its validity cannot exceed the validity of your home country’s driving license.
- It can only be issued to people over 18 years old.
- It cannot be issued to drivers with a learner’s permit.
- It is officially recognized and regulated by the United Nations and accepted by over 150 countries.
- It allows you to carry identification for different languages.
Why Carry an IDP?
- Legal requirement to rent a car and drive overseas. It is regulated by the UN for the benefit and safety of the drivers.
- Easy communication with authorities in case of a traffic stop or an accident.
What is the difference between an International Driver’s License and International Driving Permit?
It is easy to confuse an international driving permit and a license. You might come across the word “international driver’s license” when you search the internet, but you should know it is a permit you need, not a license. The driver’s document that can be referred to as a license is only your domestic driver’s license.
Who is eligible to obtain an IDP?
In order to be eligible for an IDP, you need to be at least 18 years of age and a holder of a valid driver’s license issued by your home country.
How does a US Citizen get an international driving permit?
If you have a driver’s license issued by the US, you can get an IDP with the following methods.
1. Apply in person
Before going to your nearest AAA (American Automobile Association) branch, download and fill out the application form. Prepare two original passport-sized photos and your state-issued driver’s license. When you’re there, simply pay the $20 application fee, and you’re done!
2. Apply by mail
Another option is to apply via mail. Simply download and fill out the application form, enclose two original passport-sized photos, a photocopy of your driver’s license on both sides and the $20 fee, then mail it to the nearest AAA branch.
Whether you visit AAA or apply by mail, your IDP will be mailed back to you (in 5-7 weeks) via standard shipping at no cost.
3. Apply online
You simply complete an online form, upload a passport-sized photo and your domestic driver’s license (front and back), and checkout.
You can select FedEx or standard shipping for an affordable fee and get your IDP in less than two weeks with a complementary ID card and a digital copy to access the translation of your driver’s license anytime.
How does a US Citizen obtain an international driving permit overseas?
If you are already traveling overseas and suddenly decide to drive, you can mail your completed application to AAA and wait 5-7 weeks for the return mail.
You can also apply for an IDP online and receive your IDP in less than 2 weeks.
International Driver’s License for Non-US Citizens
The US cannot issue IDPs to foreign drivers. If you plan to drive in the US and discover that you need an IDP, you can contact the motor vehicle department of the country that issued your license or apply for an IDP online with us.
To apply for an international driving permit, you will need the following documents:
For immigrants, you can use a foreign license in the US for 3-6 months from the date of entry into the US. After this period, the license won’t be valid, and you will need to obtain an international driving permit to continue driving.
What do I need to get a US driver's license as a non-citizen?
Immigrants in the US should provide proof of residency and legal authorization showing they can be in the country. If unsure, visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to ensure you have all the required documents.
Does every start require an international driver’s license or permit?
No, there are US states that do not require an IDP. However, it is better to check the state you plan to drive in to see if they require an international driving permit. You should also check the policies of rental car companies and other requirements.
International Driving Permit Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to obtain an international driver’s license?
Applying for an IDP via AAA usually takes 5 - 7 weeks, more if you choose to mail your application to AAA. In other countries, the delivery time varies depending on the situation. Thus, applying for an international driving permit at least 6 months before your departure is recommended.
Meanwhile, application via the International Drivers Association usually takes less than 2 weeks.
How long is an international driving permit valid?
1949 Convention IDPs are valid for one year from the date of issuance or until your domestic driver’s license expires, whichever comes first. On the other hand, the 1968 Convention IDPs are valid for up to 3 years.
We understand the frustration of doing the application process every year, so we’re offering drivers the option to obtain a 2-year and 3-year validity for our 1949 Geneva Convention international driving permit.
What happens if the police stop me in a foreign country requiring an IDP, and I cannot produce one?
You will find a lot of discussion in forums on drivers who have never been asked for an international driver’s license when renting cars, especially in France, Italy, the UK, Iceland, and South Africa.
They might just be lucky to talk their way out of it, but driving without an IDP, and worse, without a valid driver’s license, may mean a hefty fine or a citation for a mandatory court appearance.
What should I do if my international driving license has an error/mistake?
In some cases, people have waited 5-7 weeks only to find the date wrong. If this happens, you don’t have a choice but to contact AAA and pay a few dollars for it to be corrected.
However, if you purchase your IDP with us and notice an error, you are guaranteed unlimited replacement for free.
Is the international license or permit renewable in the event of loss or theft?
Yes, the international driver’s license or permit can be renewed. In AAA, you must follow the same application process as you did when you applied for the original IDP.
Meanwhile, with the International Drivers Association, you simply need to log in to your account and request a new one, which will be delivered to you.
What countries require an international driver’s license or permit?
Here is a list of countries:
- Signatory or party to the 1949 Geneve Convention on Road Traffic is listed here.
- Signatory or party to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic can be found here.
- Compare the 1949 Geneva and 1968 Vienna Conventions in this article.
- These are countries not party to the 1949 Convention but honor the International Driving Permit.
- Bahamas Bahrain
- Canada Cape Verde Islands
- Cayman Islands
- African Rep. Chad
- Costa Rica
- Egypt El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guernsey Guinea
- St. Kitts & Nevis
- Sao Tome & Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- Countries where the US driver’s license and an IDP are recognized on presentation to local police upon arrival.
- St. Kitts & Nevis
- Geographical areas and countries that honor Inter-American Driving Permits:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Rep.
- Egypt El Salvador
- Guyana Haiti
- Trinidad & Tobago
- Brazil (Inter-American Driving Permit only)
- Uruguay (Inter-American Driving Permit only)
Driving and Road Safety Abroad or in the US
- Observe Speed Limits
Speed limits in the U.S. are different everywhere. They change based on the state and type of road. Remember to always stick to the speed shown on the road signs. Driving faster than the limit might lead to fines or a license suspension.
- Respect Traffic Signals and Signs
Remember, red lights and stop signs are not just for show! It's crucial to obey them for orderly traffic and safety. Watch out for other signs, like ones indicating no U-turns or warning about speed bumps.
- Stay In Your Lane
Keeping our roads safe means sticking to your lane and only making changes when it's safe and adequately indicated. It is vital because unsuitable lane shifts are a leading cause of accidents.
- Follow Right-of-Way Rules
When two cars reach an intersection simultaneously, who goes first? Usually, it's the car on the right. But remember, this can change depending on the state you're in. So, knowing the specific rules where you're driving is always a good idea.
- Refrain From Distracted Driving
Avoid distracting activities like using cell phones, eating, or putting on make-up while driving. Always focus on the road and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
US Top Destinations
The Statue of Liberty
If you're headed to the United States, take the chance to see the famed Statue of Liberty. This symbol of freedom and democracy, a massive neoclassical figure, proudly towers on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park
If you're in Los Angeles, visiting the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park is a must. It's not just about stargazing through telescopes, but you get to delve deep into our universe in a fun way.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is an essential stop on any U.S. road trip. It has over 25,000 acres and features four theme parks: Disney's Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, and Disney's Animal Kingdom.
South Beach, or SoBe, is a must-visit neighborhood in Miami, famous for its stunning beaches, lively nightlife, and Art Deco architecture. A drive to this area guarantees a memorable and uniquely American experience.
This remarkable landmark in Arizona will leave you in awe of its size and beauty. You will remember the drive along the South Rim, seeing those spectacular views deep into the canyon.
You’ll need an International Driver’s Permit. Or do you? 🤔
Take this short quiz to learn whether an International Driving Permit is required and valid.
Question 1 of 3
In which country did you get your driver’s license issued?