Quiz: What do you need in order to drive a car abroad? If you answered "International Driving Permit," or IDP, you're correct! If the thought of getting a driving permit sounds intimidating, don't worry. It's actually quite simple to get one. Read on to learn what an IDP is, when and why you need it, and how to get one.
What is an IDP?
An IDP is a paper document that is just a bit larger than a passport. It allows you to operate a private motor vehicle in any country that recognizes the IDP. Currently, the IDP is valid in over 175 countries. The IDP itself is a translation of your actual driver's license, which you will also need to carry with you at all times.
Who can get an IDP?
IDPs can only be issued to adults over age 18 that have had a valid drivers license for at least six months. So make sure you have an active drivers license that won't expire soon. Once you get the IDP, you must carry it along with your valid driver's license. The IDP is typically active for about one year but be sure to check with your provider to verify the expiration date.
How to Get an International Drivers Permit
It's important to note that getting an IDP can take as little as a few minutes to a few weeks. The main factor is where you are located. Thus, it's important to plan ahead and secure an IDP before traveling abroad. My recent visit to apply for and pick up my permit took less than 20 minutes and they issued my international drivers permit on the spot.
1. Gather the necessary documents.
In order to apply for an IDP, you only need a few items:
- an existing drivers license that has been active for six months or longer
- two passport photos (some offices will do these on-site for an extra fee)
- and money to pay the $20 fee
2. Find a provider.
In the United States, there are only two organizations who can legally issue an International Driver Permit: the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the National Automobile Club (NAC). Avoid any other businesses that claim to issue IDPs as they may not be valid.
3.Apply via the provider.
To apply for an IDP, you have two choices: visit a nearby provider's office and apply in person, or submit your application in the postal mail. Applying in person is the quickest option as they can create an IDP for you within minutes. However, it may be difficult to find an IDP office depending on where you live.
Getting an international driving permit can be relatively fast and simple if you have the necessary documents and find the right provider. Be sure to plan ahead and secure this document well before your next trip abroad!
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