How will I benefit by carrying an International Driving Permit on my next overseas trip?
The International Driving Permit (IDP) is a document that provides important information from your driver’s license in eleven different languages, including English. This document came into existence by virtue of a treaty signed in 1949 by the United States and other foreign countries. As an official document, the IDP is recognized in over 150 countries today. Carried in conjunction with a regular drivers license, the IDP can help break down language barriers when traveling in non-English speaking countries. In addition, the IDP provides an additional source of identification. The $20 charge for an IDP is a small price to pay for such peace of mind.
Am I required to have an IDP in foreign countries?
There are some countries that do not recognize a drivers license from the United States, but officially recognize an IDP (e.g. Hungary). There are other countries that honor a United States drivers license, but require a local language translation (e.g. Spain). The IDP can satisfy these types of situations. Keep in mind, however, that while a certain country’s government may not require an IDP, car rental companies located in that country, such as Hertz, may require an IDP to rent a car. Purchasing an IDP prior to departure can save a lot of potential hassles.
NOTE: If you are living permanently in a foreign country, even though you may still hold a U.S. state issued driver's license, you must abide by local driver's licensing laws. Many countries require that you obtain a local license once you take up employment and/or residency.
What happens if I am stopped and given a citation against my IDP?
The IDP does not hold any powers of its own apart from your drivers license, and therefore, you do not have a separate driving record with an IDP. The IDP is valid only when carried in conjunction with and acts as a translation of a drivers license. If you are traveling in a foreign country and were to be stopped by a law enforcement officer, your U.S. drivers license and IDP should be presented to the officer. If a citation is issued to you, it will be reflected on the driving record that is with your drivers license.
Since Hong Kong was transferred from Great Britain to China, do I still need an IDP to drive there?
The United Nations recently provided official notification to the U.S. State Department indicating that the treaty which applies to Hong Kong at present will continue to apply to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the name given to the territory by China. Such notification should not be misconstrued to mean that China now recognizes IDPs, as the People’s Republic of China has never become a party to the treaty.
If someone visits the United States from a foreign country and discovers that they need an IDP, can they purchase one from AAA?
An IDP must be issued in the same country as the drivers license of the traveler. Therefore, if someone from the United Kingdom has a U.K. drivers license, their IDP must also be issued in the United Kingdom.
I have a U.S. drivers license, but I am a citizen of another country. Where should I obtain an IDP?
The IDP must be issued in the same country as the drivers license. In the case of a drivers license being issued in the United States, the IDP must also be issued in the United States. Contact your nearest AAA office to obtain an IDP.
If someone has a drivers license from a U.S. territory such as Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, how would an IDP work for them?
Since their drivers license was issued by a U.S. possession, their IDP would also be issued in the United States. Contact a AAA office in the United States, and the IDP can be issued and mailed.
What do I need to obtain an IDP?
You need to complete a brief application form (available through this Internet web site, or your nearest AAA office), provide 2 passport-sized photographs with your signature on the back of them, a photocopy of your valid U.S. issued drivers license, and a check or money order for $20 in U.S. funds. If transacting by mail, these items would need to be mailed to a AAA office in the United States. Otherwise, everything can be handled in a single office visit.
NOTE: If you are currently overseas you can mail your completed application to the following office and address: AAA/IDP, 1000 AAA Dr., Heathrow, FL 32746 Attn: Mailstop #28