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What is an International Driver’s License?

What is an International Driver’s License?

An international driver’s license, often referred to as an International Driver’s Permit (IDP), is a driving permit that allows the holder to drive a vehicle in any country that recognizes the document.

IDPs are governed by three conventions:

  1. The 1926 Paris International Convention relative to Motor Traffic

  2. The 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic

  3. The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic

An IDP is valid in over 150 countries worldwide. It contains information such as your name, photo, and other relevant driving details. It translates your information into 10 other languages, including: 

  • English

  • Arabic

  • Russian

  • Japanese

  • Portugues

  • Chinese

  • German 

  • Spanish

  • French 

  • Italian

Your IDP is valid for one year from the issued date and must be renewed if you plan to use it again after this date.

Ready for your next international adventure? This article will help you understand where to receive an IDP, how to qualify for it, and how to use it when you are traveling in foreign countries.

Where to Receive an International Driver’s License

There are a few organizations that provide legal IDPs. 

The government-authorized network of Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) and The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (TIA) organizations are eligible to issue IDPs across the world. 

In certain countries, automobile associations will also issue IDPs. For example, the American Automobile Association (AAA) is the only authorized automobile association to issue IDPs in the United States.

AAA is a non-profit national membership association with over 60 million members in the United States and Canada.  Besides issuing IDPs, this association will provide services such as roadside assistance, motoring advice, vehicle repairs, and travel safety.

Unfortunately, several unofficial organizations in the United States claim that they will issue IDPs, but many of them are scams. The U.S. State Department requests people to stick with only AAA for IDPs.

American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) was also once known as an authorized body to issue IDPs. However, it has ceased issuing IDPs recently. 

Note: Be aware of IDP scams. Using fake IDPs may result in travel delays and land you in legal trouble. You can report IDP scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

How to Qualify for an International Driving License

You must apply for your IDP in the same country where you obtained your domestic driver’s license. For instance, if someone from the U.S. has a valid driver’s license from their home state, their IDP will also need to be issued in the U.S.

Not everybody is eligible to get an IDP. You’ll need to meet specific criteria to apply for an IDP in the United States. The criteria may include residency, age limit, and the validity of your existing license.

  • Residency: You must be a resident of the United States.

  • Age limit: The minimum age limit for an IDP is 18 years.

  • Existing license: The existing U.S driver’s license must be valid for the next six months.

Methods to Apply

AAA allows you to apply for an IDP through two methods: In-person and by mail.

  • In-person: To apply in person, you must visit the nearest AAA branch. AAA has over 1,000 branch offices throughout North America.  To apply in person, you’ll need to download the application form from the AAA website, fill in all the details, and submit it at your nearest AAA branch. You should provide two passport-size pictures, a valid U.S. driver’s license, and a $20 permit fee to AAA to process the application.

  • By mail: If you don’t want to visit the AAA branch office, you can send the application via mail. The mail should be enclosed with a filled IDP application form, two original passport photos (duly signed on the back), a money order or check for the $20, and a photocopy of your U.S. driver’s license. You can use expedited mail services offered by courier companies to speed up the process and receive your IDP earlier than the expected date. 

Already Overseas?

If you are already overseas, you should mail the completed application enclosed with all documents to the following AAA office address:

1000 AAA Drive
Heathrow, FL 32746
Attn: Mail Stop #28

You may choose courier companies like FedEx or USPS Express International to send your mail. You can typically expect to receive a return mail within 10 business days after the IDP is processed.

Using Your International Driver’s License

Since an IDP is not proof of your driving skill, it should be accompanied by a valid license issued by the applicant’s home country. For example, the IDP of a U.S. resident is not valid if they do not carry a valid U.S driver’s license.

You should keep the following aspects in mind while using your IDP in a foreign land:

  • Check out the permit/license requirements for the foreign country you are visiting. An IDP is not required if the foreign country you visit accepts your domestic driver’s license. For instance, as a resident of the United States, you don’t need an IDP in countries such as Canada and Mexico.

  • Your IDP is not entitled to bring you additional benefits such as discounts, coupons, privileges, and rights. If a travel agency claims these perks, avoid applying there as you may end up losing money due to a possible scam.

  • IDPs are not valid in Brazil and Uruguay. You need to obtain an Inter-American Driving Permit (IADP) issued for these two countries.

Prepare For Your Next Adventure with AVR

To qualify for an IDP, you should be a resident of the issuing country, aged 18 years, and have a valid domestic driver’s license. AAA is the only authorized establishment to offer IDPs in the United States. AAA allows you to apply for IDP by mail or in person.

Car rental companies ask for a valid IDP while renting a car to foreign travelers. Having your IDP already will help you avoid the majority of your travel worries when you visit foreign countries.

Airport Van Rental (AVR) is a leading van rental company in the United States. With a premium fleet of vehicles, including SUVs, minivans, convertibles, passenger vans, and cargo vans, it caters to the travel needs of people planning weekend getaways, family vacations, and road trips. It has over 12 rental locations in the country. The popular locations are Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa.

Foreign travelers in the United States love to associate with AVR for the following reasons:

  • A family-run business with a customer-oriented mindset

  • 24/7 premier customer support

  • Ongoing discounts, coupons, and rewards on rental rates

  • Flexible payment options like credit card and debit card payments

  • Chauffeur services at affordable prices

  • Convenient pick-up and drop-off locations

  • Pay now option that helps reduce the rental rate by up to 35%

  • 24/7 pick up and return

  • Industry-leading cleaning practices

  • Amenities like Wi-Fi hotspot, GPS, and Dual AC

Book a rental car with AVR to enjoy a stress-free vacation with your family and friends. Ensure you have a valid international driving permit before booking a rental van if you are a foreign driver.

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