International Driving Permit: How to obtain it?

February 23, 2019

Should I get an international driver permit? (IDP)

While planning for your trip outside of the United States you might think your driver license will work everywhere. However, this is not always the case, so let’s discuss this important topic. 

Why would you need the International Driving Permit?

Simply put, this is something like insurance. You never know when you need one, but when you need it - it plays an important role.
The license itself looks like a booklet and provides translations to multiple languages. If you are presenting ID documentation to get a rental car or stopped by law enforcement, this is where you are most likely need it. While you can explain the situation and probably things will eventually get sorted out, this is not the experience you want to get when you are traveling somewhere far away.

A piece of mind - that's what the international driver license gives the most. Plus many countries actually require to have it by the law, so why even risk not having it?

Where should I get the IDP?

When it comes to purchasing an international driver license there are only two authorized agencies that allow to get it legally:

You might find other websites and agencies out there that claim that they can provide you a driver license. But there is no guarantee and highly likely you are getting scammed or your driver license obtained from those sources has no legal force.

What is the process? And how long it takes to get IDP?

The process generally depends on how you wish to proceed. There are two ways to obtain a license?

  • Apply in person
  • Apply by mail

Usually, the process doesn't take a long time and you can be in and out in 15-30 minutes. In most of the cases, you will get a license in your hands right away.

Documents that you typically need for IDP:

  • Your state's driver license
  • 2 passport photos
  • Filled out application

Speaking from my personal experience, it took no longer than 15 minutes for me to get it from an AAA office nearby. There a simple form available on their website to fill out and I've got my photos taken at the nearest Costco location. Simple as that.

How much does it cost?

Usually, not much. I've paid 20$ for that license at the AAA office. Seems like it's the same amount for AATA. Credit cards are widely accepted, so it's cheap and straightforward.

How long is it valid for?

The one I received from AAA is valid for one year from the start of your trip. You indicate the start date in the filled out form itself. Looks like it's a standard length for IDP. I've seen some licenses are issued for longer than that, but I cannot confirm how lawful those driver licenses are.

Getting an international driver's permit as a personal choice. You should weight the risks, check the specific requirements for the country you are going to, and decide based on that.
The last thing you want to be is feeling sorry that you forgot to obtain such an important piece of documentation and have your travel plans be totally derailed.

Safe travels! 

And if you need hints on how to get an apartment for a best price for the place of your trip, please check out this simple guide.

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Written by Dmitry Yarygin Test Engineer and a Digital Nomad.
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