The need for an international driver’s permit made headlines recently when 18 automotive journalists and six $100,000 Mercedes E63 AMGs were detained by Spanish officials for failing to have the required documents.
The fact that professionals, whose careers involve globetrotting and driving cars in foreign countries, don’t have an International Driver’s Permit (IDL) is just one example of how under exposed this important document is.
Truly, to ensure you don’t get hit by any roadblocks on your next trip overseas, be it a business trip or family vacation, consider getting an International Driver’s Permit. It might not be necessary everywhere, but the IDL is a handy piece of documentation when you need to drive abroad.
Let’s face it, not every country uses English as an official language. While it would be nice to have a translator on hand during all your trips, an IDP does the job for you, at least when it comes to driving. Essentially the IDP is a translated version of your driver’s license, a handy thing to have if you get stopped somewhere by a police officer, and can’t communicate with them.
The passport-like IDP needs to be accompanied with your home license in order to prove that you’re a licensed driver back home. Over 150 countries recognize the IDP, and many of them won’t even let you rent a vehicle without one. Some countries also don’t honor the US driver’s license, and need an IDP in order for you to drive. Other countries that do honor the US driver’s license still require a local translation of it, which the IDP provides.
Fortunately, it’s not too hard to get an IDP. Just go to your nearest AAA (or CAA in Canada) with two passport style pictures. Fifteen dollars later, and you’ll have a brand new international driver’s permit. You can also mail in an IDP application and money to AAA and receive the document later. It’s important to know where you need an IDP for your travel, as it can only be issued in your home country. That means if you realize that you need one too late, you’ll be out of luck. These permits also expire in a year, so make sure your document is current.
For $15, the IDP is pretty solid value to ensure that you don’t run into any language issues, or driving mishaps while traveling in a foreign country. You can find a full list of all the countries where it is recognized, in case you’re unsure if it is necessary or not.
It’s also worth noting, that an IDP isn’t a get out of jail free card. A ticket you get abroad can still affect your home license.