If you are planning to travel outside of your country of residence for a few days or an extended period of time and are planning to get behind the wheel to drive on foreign lands then, you have stumbled upon the perfect article!
We will give you a detailed overview of where you can acquire your international driver’s license from, what steps you are required to follow and how long it will take to generate an international driver’s license from AAA.
AAA or American Automobile Association which has been dominating the American automotive industry for over a century offers a variety of services for your automobile, including the issuing of international driver’s license.
You must note that each country has their own separate set of requirements for foreign visitors wanting to drive. Some require you to bring your IDP along while others might require a few other documents as well.
What is an IDP?
An international driving permit or IDP accompanied by your valid U.S. driver’s license recognizes you as eligible to drive an automobile legally in 174 countries.
It came into existence after a treaty was signed between the U.S. and other foreign countries in 1949. It mainly consists of your name, photo and necessary driver’s information.
If you are a permanent U.S. resident and at least 18 years of age, having a driver’s license that will remain valid for six months from the date of issuance of the IDP then, you are eligible to apply for an IDP.
Why should I carry an IDP?
When you are venturing out into a foreign country, it is extremely convenient to carry an IDP as it translates your identification information into ten languages thereby, reducing the language barrier.
A U.S. driver’s license is not recognized by some countries, but an IDP is recognized by most and most importantly, if you wish to rent a vehicle, then it is absolutely necessary to carry an IDP.
It is recommended by the AAA to carry your IDP along with your U.S. license especially when you are travelling to a country where English is not the primary language, because if by chance, you encounter a traffic police/official who cannot read your U.S. license, then they may refer to the IDP as it contains ten other languages.
Therefore, carrying an IDP reduces the potential risks of running into trouble with foreign authorities or getting fined for driving illegally.
Where can I get an IDP?
The U.S. state department recognizes AAA as a legitimate organization which can authorize and issue international driver’s licenses. You do not necessarily have to be a member of the AAA to apply for an IDP from them.
You can seek out your local AAA branch and enlighten yourself on the requirements the country you are travelling to has, so you can prepare your documents accordingly.
How can I apply for an IDP?
You have to provide the things mentioned below to obtain your IDP:
- You need to download and fill out an application form for your IDP and present it to the nearest AAA branch.
- Two original passport pictures with your signature on the back. (Some AAA branches offer to take your passport pictures for an additional fee)
- A valid U.S. driver’s license.
- A cash, check or credit card to pay the $20 USD permit fee.
If you are applying for your IDP in person then you can expect to get it right away.
How can I apply for an IDP through mail?
If you are not able to turn up in person at your local AAA branch, then you can obtain your IDP through mail by following these few steps:
- Your completed IDP application form
- Original passport pictures
- A $20 permit fee.
- Photocopies of both sides of your driver’s license.
- You may add additional postage to have your IDP sent via expedited mail.
You can expect to receive your IDP through mail in two weeks.
Please note that your IDP is not renewable and will remain valid for a year.
You can mail the materials required to apply for an IDP in the address below:
1000 AAA Drive,
Heathrow, FL 32746
Do U.S. citizens require an IDP in Canada or Mexico?
If you are visiting for a short trip, your U.S. driver’s license will be considered valid by Canada and Mexico.
In short, the answer is no, you will not require an IDP in these two places. As long as you are a visitor, your U.S. auto insurance will be considered valid in Canada. But, you will need to purchase Mexican liability auto insurance if you are driving your own vehicle in Mexico.
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit and an International Driver’s license?
International driver’s licenses do not exist and are merely a scam. There are only International Driving Permits which are issued by two U.S. authorized organizations, AAA and AATA. An IDP is a permit and should not be confused for a license, as it will not be recognized if you do not hold a valid driver’s license.
What are the countries which require U.S. citizens to carry an IDP to drive overseas?
International Driving Permits are required by U.S. licensed drivers for the following countries:
- Czech Republic
What happens if you are stopped and given a citation against your IDP?
Without a valid driver’s license, your IDP does not have any power of its own therefore, there will not be a separate driving record for your IDP.
It only acts as a translation of your driver’s license. If you are stopped by a law enforcement official in a foreign country, your U.S. license along with your IDP has to be presented to the officer and if the official decides to issue a citation against you, then it will be reflected on the driving record of your driver’s license.
If a foreign driver is travelling to the U.S, Can they obtain an IDP in the U.S.?
Unfortunately, that will not be allowed. Coming from a foreign country, you are required to carry a valid foreign driver’s license and have an IDP issued from the same country where you got your driver’s license.
The United States government does not demand an IDP to drive in the U.S. Some particular states might require an IDP to allow you to drive on their public roads. States like California, Massachusetts and Arizona require you to carry your valid foreign driver’s license and not an IDP.
But, it is still recommended to carry an IDP in case there is any language related problem or you need roadside assistance or if you are involved in an auto accident.
Can I use a scanned/digital photograph for my IDP?
Scanned photographs are unacceptable along with photocopies. Photos can be clicked in colour or in black and white. Polaroid type photographs are acceptable. If you still have more queries, then you can thoroughly go through the U.S passport photo requirements for guidelines.
Can you apply for an IDP if you only have a temporary license?
Even though a temporary license is considered to be a valid license, it would be wise to wait until you receive your permanent driver’s license before you apply for an IDP. Authorities in the foreign country you are visiting are not likely to accept a temporary license.
If someone is on active duty with the U.S. Military and their license has or is about to expire. Can they apply for an IDP?
Each state has separate rules for individuals in the military and the extension of the validity of their state driving licenses.
It might be valid in their home state but an expired U.S. license held by an active duty military might not be accepted or deemed valid in a foreign country. You can check out your nearest DMV for state information on renewals, keeping note that IDP is a translation of a license and not a license to drive.
If a state DMV allows renewals online or by mail for Military personnel who are stationed outside the state, they should renew their license prior to receiving their IDP. Some states will issue a DL236 card with a license that has expired to extend its validity.
If somebody is travelling to South America, which permit should they issue?
The International Driving Permit is valid in South America except for Brazil and Uruguay. To be able to drive in these countries, the Inter-American Driving Permit must be issued.
We hope we have been able to assist you with concerns regarding your IDP with this detailed overview. In case, you have more queries, you can visit your local AAA branch or you can call their service center on 1-800-222-4357 or 1-866-968-7222.