The Why’s And How’s: Obtaining An International Driver’s License

You arrive at your desired abroad destination and get off the plane. Next, you pick up your bags and find the car rental office where you have a reservation for a rent-a-car. Are you going to be ready when they ask you to present your international driver’s license? This is all too often a problem, considering it’s either required or strongly recommended by more than 150 countries for foreign drivers.

Read the recommendations below for more information regarding pre-travel preparation.

What Is an International Driving Permit?

First things first, it is not a license. Your real license is what you will have to keep with your international one. The permit is a small booklet about the size of a passport, which is issued by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA).

driver's license
The Why’s And How’s: Obtaining An International Driver’s License

The permit is a document that translates your American-issued driver’s license into ten different languages, which can be used abroad. It gives you the right to drive and operate a vehicle in any of the countries that accept it.

Do I Still Need One If It’s Not Required?

It is recommended that you still get one, just in case. Without an international driving permit, you may not be able to communicate effectively with authorities if you are pulled over and you don’t speak the language.

What If I Drive Without One?

The penalties for driving without an international permit can depend on the country and its laws. Common penalties include fines, jail time, and deportation.

How Long Is It Valid?

An intentional driving permit is valid for 12 months from the date of the issue.

The Why’s And How’s: Obtaining An International Driver’s License

How Do I Get One?

Head to your AAA branch with two passport-sized pictures, and fill out an application, either online or in person. Be sure to also bring your driver’s license. The cost is $20. If you’re out of the country, you can apply by mail, but it can take up to six weeks to process, and it comes with a hefty $75-100 shipping fee.

Once you have your intentional driving permit, you are all ready for your abroad adventure!