International Driving Permit: All You Need to Know

International Driving Permit

The open road calls out to the adventurous souls, offering endless possibilities at every corner. If you want to fully enjoy the freedom of traveling, get an International Driving Permit (IDP). It’s like your ticket to exploring new places. Whether you dream of a big road trip in Europe, cruising through Asia, or just driving in another country, the IDP makes sure you can do it safely.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to get an IDP, using my own experiences to help you out. Once you have this important permit, you’ll feel confident to go on amazing journeys around the world.

What Does International Driving Permit (IDP) Stand For?

What Does International Driving Permit (IDP) Stand For?

Basically, an International Driving Permit (IDP) translates your valid driver’s license into ten languages accepted by the United Nations. It doesn’t replace your license but goes along with it. With an IDP, you can legally drive in 174 countries.

It holds your details, a small photo, and the translated info from your license. When you rent a car in another country, you’ll likely need to show your IDP along with your other travel papers.

Having an IDP boosts road safety by confirming you’re allowed to drive wherever you go.

Countries That Require an International Driving Permit

Countries require international driving permit

Every country sets its own traffic laws and license rules. When renting a car abroad, some places ask for an international driver’s permit (IDP), while others might be fine with your local license. The following countries welcome the IDP for visitors driving during their travels

Visit the International Driving Permit website to find out the specific needs of each country.

If you’re heading to a country that is not listed, look into their local rules and how to obtain an international driving permit there. Just make sure to avoid falling for scams related to international driver’s licenses.

Differences between an International Driving Permit and a Driver’s License

Differences between an International Driving Permit and a Driver's License

An International Driving Permit (IDP) and a Driver’s License serve different purposes. Here’s how they differ:

Where You Can Drive

Your driver’s license works only in the country in which it was issued. The IDP, on the other hand, allows you to drive in many foreign countries. Remember, the IDP depends on your driver’s license. If your local license expires, so does the IDP. Keep an eye on both issue dates.


The IDP translates your license into ten United Nations-recognized languages. Meanwhile, your driver’s license is only in the language of the country that issued it.

Meeting Requirements

Some places might need more than just your driver’s license to let you drive legally. That’s where the IDP comes in—it meets those international driving requirements.

Carry Along 

The IDP is an extra document to carry with your driver’s license when driving in another country. Your driver’s license is your main ID and should also be kept with you.

Local licenses might not be recognized in foreign countries due to language or other rules. That’s where an IDP can help bridge those gaps and serve as a universal form of documentation for driving abroad.

Advantages of an International Driving Permit in a Foreign Country

Advantages of international driving permit

Getting an International Driving Permit USA comes with several perks when you’re gearing up for a road trip abroad. Here are the key advantages:

Legal Driving

It lets you drive legally in many countries that ask for it. Avoiding fines and legal hassles? That’s a big plus!

Smooth Rentals

Lots of foreign car rental places need an IDP. Having it handy makes renting a car faster and simpler.

Communication Aid

The IDP translates your license into different languages approved by the United Nations. It makes talking to foreign authorities easier if there’s an accident or you get pulled over.


You can cruise through multiple foreign countries with an IDP. It’s like having a flexible pass for your road trip plans.

Peace of Mind

Having an IDP means you’ve got the right papers to drive in other countries. That kind of assurance can really ease your mind during your road trip.

In short, getting a valid permit to drive abroad for a road trip is totally worth it. It keeps things legal, helps with communication, makes renting a car smoother, and gives you peace of mind while you’re on the move.

How to Get an International Driving Permit

How to Get an International Driving Permit

To grab an International Driving Permit (IDP), you need to meet specific criteria. Each country might have its own process, so it’s smart to check with your local transportation authority for the lowdown on getting this permit. Here’s what you generally need to do:

First, check if you meet the eligibility criteria:

  • You’ve got to be at least 18 years old.
  • Hold a valid driver’s license from your home country.
  • Also, you need to be a permanent resident or citizen of the country issuing the IDP. For example, if you’re applying from the US, you’ll need a US license and residency or citizenship there. Oh, and if your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, sorry, no IDP for you.

Here’s how the application process usually rolls:

  • Get an application form from a local car association or online through your country’s authority. Make sure it’s the real deal; watch out for fake IDPs online.
  • Get your papers ready. A copy of your license, two pictures of your passport, and the fee for the IDP. 
  • Hand in your application form and docs to the right place back in your home country.
  • If your application gets the nod, you’ll receive your IDP either by mail or in person. Sometimes, there’s a digital version available too.

To apply, you’ll need:

  • Your valid driver’s license.
  • Two passport-sized photos.
  • A filled-out IDP application form.
  • Cash for the IDP fee.

Now, about the cost and how long it lasts:

The price and validity of an IDP can change based on where you get it. In the US, it’s $20 and lasts a year from when it’s issued. Remember, you can’t renew it, so when it’s up, it’s time for a fresh one.

Benefits of Having an International Driving Permit for Frequent Travelers

Benefit of having international driving permit for frequent traveler

An International Driving Permit (IDP) can be a real asset for globetrotters. Ever thought about swapping noisy and hectic flights for serene and enjoyable road trips? Here’s why having an IDP is a game-changer:

Ease and Freedom

With an IDP, you can drive in a foreign country without needing a separate local license. That’s super handy, especially if you plan to rent a car or use car-sharing services on your travels. It’s recognized in over 150 countries, giving you the freedom to explore hassle-free.

Insurance Coverage

Some rental companies and car-sharing services ask foreign drivers to have an IDP alongside their regular license. Plus, it can add an extra layer of insurance coverage in case of accidents or unexpected events.

Staying on the Right Side of the Law

In certain places, having an IDP is a must for foreign drivers. By having one, you’re ticking the legal compliance box, avoiding any potential legal bumps while cruising in a foreign land.


Having an International Driving Permit is a must for driving safely and legally in another country. It’s really a personal choice based on your travel plans. But if you’re thinking about driving abroad or renting a car while traveling, getting an IDP is a small cost for big perks and a worry-free trip.

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