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 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.
Does possession of the IDP/IADP along with my U. S. issued driver’s license override any local laws?
No, even though the IDP/IADP is valid for one year you must adhere to all local laws. For example, in many countries if you take up residence or employment you need to obtain a local license.
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 driver’s license of
the traveler. Therefore, if someone from the United Kingdom has a U.K.
driver’s license, their IDP must also be issued in the United Kingdom.