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International Driving Permit: What it is and how to get one

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If you’re planning on driving in France or anywhere else abroad, it’s worth looking into an International Driving Permit. That way you won’t end up in a sticky situation if your native drivers’ licence isn’t accepted by rental companies or the authorities.

So before you start driving abroad, here’s how you can apply for an International Driving Permit (or IDP).

An International Driving Permit is not the same as an International Drivers’ LicenceAn International Drivers’ Licence is not a legally accepted document and is often confused for the IDP. Beware of scams offering licences as they are essentially not real.

Am I eligible for an International Drivers’ Licence?

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Yes, if you are over 18 years of age and have a legal drivers’ licence in your home country for more than six months.

Keep in mind though that while you can get an IDP at 18, some rental car companies will not let you rent a car unless you are over 21.

Where do I apply for an IDP?

It’s easy to apply for one. If you’re a UK citizen, you can apply through the Post Office. If you’re American, you can apply through the websites of the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Canadians can apply through the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

Check in with the automobile association in your country in order to apply for your IDP. Do not buy your permit from anywhere other than an officially recognized permit-seller in your country, such as the above-noted automobile associations.

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Regardless of where you apply for your permit, in addition to the application form you’ll likely need:

  • Two passport-sized photos
  • A copy of your drivers’ licence
  • A cheque for the application costs (around $20USD)

Your International Driving Permit is valid for one year. You can’t apply for one more than three months before you intend to travel. However, you can also delay the start of your permit for up to three months if needed.

An International Driving Permit is in addition to your regular licence.It does not act as a replacement when abroad. Make sure you bring both when you travel.

Which countries require an International Driving Permit?

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There are three different types of permits available, and different countries may require different permits. 

If you’re going to be driving in the EU, here are the countries that accept the 1968 version of the IDP: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.

 

You may need the 1949 IDP for these countries: Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Spain.

If you’re travelling through Liechtenstein, you may need a 1929 IDP.

If you’re not sure if the country you’re travelling to requires an IDP, check with their embassy.You can find a full list of countries with their request IDPs here.

If you’re a UK citizen, you will not need an IDP to drive within EU or EEA countries for under 12 months. But if you’re thinking of driving in France after Brexit, or anywhere else in the European Union, it’s recommended you apply for an IDP due to all the uncertainty around the October 31, 2019 leave date. If the UK leaves the European Union without an exit deal, international driving rights for UK citizens will likely change.

If you’re a European citizen looking to visit North American countries such as the United States, you may also need an IDP.

What happens if I drive in a foreign country without an IDP?

You may be fined or even have your car confiscated, depending on the country. If you’re driving a rental car, the rental company will charge you the cost of releasing the vehicle from the police.