International Drivers License

Although many countries do not recognize U.S. driver's licenses, most countries accept an international driving permit (IDPs). On September 19, 1949, the United Nations established the International Driving Permit to facilitate the travel of motorists in foreign countries where language barriers create difficulties for both motorists and police. This document establishes the right for a person to drive in another country. The International Driving Permit (IDP) must be accompanied by your valid state driver license. It is not valid in the country of issue.

IDPs are honored in more than 150 countries outside the U.S. (See AAA’s application form for the list of countries. They function as a legal identification document that translates U.S. driver’s license information into 11 foreign languages. These licenses are not intended to replace valid U.S. state licenses and should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. IDPs are not valid in an individual’s country of residence.

Before departure, you can obtain one from an automobile association authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue IDPs. Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic (1949) authorizes the U.S. Department of State to empower certain organizations to issue IDPs to those who hold valid U.S. driver’s licenses. The Department has designated the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance as the only authorized distributors of IDPs. Many foreign countries require deposit of a customs duty or an equivalent bond for each tourist automobile entering its territory, and the motoring associations are equipped with the necessary facilities for providing expeditiously a standard bond document (Article 3 of the Convention). The Convention is not applicable to United States motorists using their cars in the United States.

How to Apply for an International Driving Permit

Before departure, you can obtain one at a local office of one of the two automobile associations authorized by the U.S. Department of State: the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.

  • To get one, send a self- addressed stamped envelope to the AAA (American Automobile Association ), 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32745-5063. The application is available on-line.. You don't have to be a member of AAA to get the IDP.
  • American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA), 1151 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, CA 94404, tel: 800-622-7070; fax: 650-294-7105

To apply for an international driving permit, you must be at least age 18, and you will need to present two passport-size photographs and your valid U.S. license. The cost of an international driving permit from these U.S. State Department authorized organizations is under $20.00.

International Driving Permits Issued by Unauthorized Persons

The Department of State is aware that IDPs are being sold over the Internet and in person by persons not authorized by the Department of State pursuant to the requirements of the U.N. Convention of 1949. Moreover, many of these IDPs are being sold for large sums of money, far greater than the sum charged by entities authorized by the Department of State. Consumers experiencing problems should report problems to their local office of the U.S. Postal Inspector, the Better Business Bureau, or their state or local Attorney General’s Office.

With this in mind, there are many companies on the internet offering this service. However you should check their prices and make sure they are authorized to issue valid IDL: