Travel Talk

How to Get International Driver’s License in USA & Canada

If you plan on driving overseas, you’re going to need an international driver’s license. This license is officially known as an intentional driving permit. If you’re going to be traveling abroad, you’d be reckless not to get one, especially if you’re reading this before you leave.

Below is how to get an international driver’s license in the United States or Canada. It’s most likely very similar in whatever country you’re from so don’t worry.

What is an International Driver’s License?

An international drivers license is actually an international driving permit(IDP). An IDP is a book which contains translations of your skills and qualifications in almost a dozen languages. This is so people in foreign countries will have proof that you can drive the car or motorbike they’re about to rent you.

In the United States you get an IDP from AAA. In Canada, you need to get one from CAA so it’s basically the same procedure. In both the United States and Canada it doesn’t matter if you’re a member or not.

Regardless if you plan on driving or not, having an IDP is also a good idea. Chances are you will rent a car because it’s common. Also, having additional identification on you incase of the unthinkable is smart.

How to get an International drivers license.

Why get an International Driving Permit?

It’s important to have an International driving permit for those driving abroad. Many locations around the world won’t rent you a bike or car if you don’t present one.

In other countries, you can rent a vehicle without having an IDP. In those countries, the police often pull foreigners over so you’d want one anyways. The police make foreigners pay a fine if they don’t present their international driving permit.

In Thailand and Bali people are pulled over everyday because it’s easy money for the police. Those pulled over aren often charged more than the price of an IDP.

Finally, in some places it’s illegal for you to drive without an international driving permit. So it’s just common sense to have your IDP anywhere you plan on driving overseas.

How to get an IDP in United States

A quick an simple process to apply for your IDP in the United States. As long as you’re over 18 years old and have a valid drivers license.

  1. Download, print and fill out these forms.
  2. Include two original passport photographs.
  3. Have a valid US drivers license.
  4. Go to the nearest local AAA branch.
  5. Pay the $20 permit fee.
  6. If overseas, you’ll need to mail the information in.

How to apply for an IDP in Canada?

The process to get an international driving permit in Canada is rather straight forward if you’re 18 years old or more.

  1. Print out the application form or fill out their online form.
  2. Photocopy the front and back of your drivers license.
  3. Get two passport sized photos, the kind used for visas.
  4. Head to your local CAA office.
  5. Pay the fee of $25CAD.
  6. Wait ~30 minutes and your international drivers permit should be ready.
  7. If you’re already overseas or there are no offices near you, you can mail in your information, it’s all explained here.

What Countries recognize the IDP?

A total of 98 countries will recognize your IDP. All countries that signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic in 1968. The convention replaces the previous Convention on Road Traffic which was signed in Geneva in 1949. Long story short, most of the places you’ll visit will respect your international drivers license.

How long is the International Driving Permit valid for?

Your international driving permit will be valid for one year. Once the year is over, you’ll need to re-apply for another one. For those overseas it’s best to get the process started before the expiration of your current year. This is also the case for those who immigrated to the USA and live legally here.

Closing thoughts on applying for an international driver’s license

In closing, it’s worth getting your International driver’s license which is actually an international drivers permit. The cost is negligible and it’s incredibly easy to do from almost anywhere in the world.

Always remember to drive safely and obey the rules of the road. So with your IDP, you’ve got nothing to worry about but planning your next road trip.

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