How to apply for an International Driving Permit

While city centers are great and easily accessible by public transit, having the freedom to leave and explore the outskirts of the city is truly liberating. In my opinion, that’s where you find the “true” vibe of a place.

Depending on the country that you’re visiting, rules vary. If you’re in a country like Canada or Great Britain, using your normal drivers license is more than enough. Visit a country like Latvia however, and you’ll find that if you want to rent a car, you’re going to need a little something called the International Driving Permit.

What is it?

Crtaed over 60 years ago, the International Driving Permit (or IDP) is a valid form of Identification in over 150 countries. It has over 10 languages that translates your information just incase you need it. Some countries require an IDP and if you don’t have one, there could be hefty fines. 

According to AAA:

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.

Where can you get one?

Surprisingly, you can pick one up from your local AAA office. If you do a simple google search, not all AAA offices have them. Lots of times you’ll see a AAA Insurance office (wrong) so make sure that you go to an AAA travel office. They’re the ones with the magic booklets. No appointment needed, walk-ins are absolutely accepted.

AAA Travel Office

Alternatively, if you don’t have an AAA office near you, you can also send one via mail and have it processed and sent back to you. The cost is only $20. 

Here’s the AAA website that goes over all the information, and here’s a list of all the AAA travel offices.

What you’ll need

Three simple things will get you a permit:

  1. Your Current Drivers License
  2. 2 Passport Sized Photos
  3. Cash, Check or Charge for $20
  4. The completed Application form

If you don’t have a place to get passport size photos readily available near you, they SHOULD be able to take them at AAA bit they’re pretty pricey. Call ahead to double check.

International Driving Permit

The requirements are SLIGHTLY different if you’re going to be sending it in the mail, so make sure to pay close attention if you’re not heading there in person.

Have you ever had an International Driving Permit? Or, have you traveled without one? Let us know!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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    • On the contrary… In Latvia the rental car facility would not let us rent unless we had it. Also in Croatia we were stopped by a police officer and he required it as well. It’s a good $20 insurance policy.

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  1. I guess it depends on where you are traveling. I’m in Europe a lot (Germany/Switzerland) and they don’t require such a thing.

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    • Exactly – it’s country specific. Some times it is with local authorities, some times with the rental cards, and very often if the person getting it has a non-standard language on their ID (Russian, arabic, etc)

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