How to Get Your Permit to Drive Internationally

International driving permit and passport

While there are a lot of different ways to get around when visiting other countries, one of the best ways to get around is by car. 

But, the only way to get around by car in another country is with an international driver's license. With an international driver's license, you'll be able to embark on some of the most epic road trips in the world, from New Zealand to Iceland to South Africa. 

But, what does it take to get your international driver's license?

Check out this guide to learn how to get your permit to drive internationally. 

Where to Get One 

There are two places in the US that issue an international driver's permit. These are the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance

If you purchase an international driver's permit from any other outlet, know that you are breaking the law, as these permits are illegal to sell, purchase, or carry. 

In order to get your international driver's permit, you need to be at least 18 years of age and have had your driver's license for at least 6 months. 

Typically, your permit will remain valid for one year or valid until your actual driver's license expires. 

Both the AATA and the AAA are excellent organizations for obtaining your permit. So, once you decide on an organization, go to their website and print off the international driver's permit application. 

Once you've completed the application, you can either submit it via mail or in-person. If you're on a bit of a time crunch, we definitely recommend submitting your application in person. 

In order to obtain your permit, you'll also need a copy of your current driver's license as well as two passport-sized photos of yourself. You can get these photos taken at a local pharmacy. 

You will also need to enclose a check for the permit fee. Currently, an international driver's license costs $20- a small price to pay for being able to drive anywhere you want in the world!

You can also check out this guide for more info on getting your international driver's permit. 

Tips for Getting Your International Driver's Permit 

The process of obtaining your international driver's permit is usually smooth and painless. 

However, there are some things you should keep in mind to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. 

For starters, you're going to want to make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get your international driver's permit. It can take anywhere from a few days or a few weeks to get your permit depending on how busy the offices are, so don't risk it by waiting until the last minute. 

While expedited services are available, they come with an additional fee. 

When driving internationally, remember that you'll still need to carry your regular driver's license with you. Without your driver's license, your permit is invalid. 

International driver's permits are only meant to act as a translation of a driver's license that's domestically accepted. 

Tips for Driving in Another Country 

No matter what you hear, driving in another country is not going to be like driving at home. 

Before embarking on your journey, you should read about the country's road safety. You should keep in mind the following before you take off:

  • Dangerous road conditions and other potential hazards
  • Availability of roadside assistance (there's no AAA outside of the US!)
  • Areas to avoid
  • Local emergency numbers
  • Need for maps, spare tires, and fuel
  • Safety considerations, such as seatbelts
  • Documents you may need to carry in addition to your license and permit

It's also very important to keep in mind that driving culture can vary greatly from country to country. For example, in the US, we only really honk our horn if someone is about to hit us. However, in other countries, the horn is used quite frequently and is used to signal all sorts of things to other vehicles. 

It's also important to keep in mind that in some developing countries, driving laws are a lot more "lax", for lack of a better word. In some countries, it's not uncommon to see people running stop signs, driving their motorbikes on the sidewalk, or weaving wildly in and out of traffic. So, make sure you check out the driving culture before you rent a vehicle. 

One other important thing to note is that some countries have high levels of police corruption. In other words, if they see a foreigner driving, they'll try to issue you a ticket for something you may not have even done. This so-called ticket is usually just pocketed by the police officer. 

If you're renting a vehicle, be sure to get the number of the rental company before you leave so you can call them in this situation. 

Auto Insurance 

We also can't forget to talk about auto insurance. 

For the most part, your US auto insurance will not cover you abroad. However, it may cover you in Canada or Mexico. 

And, even if your policy is valid in another country, it may not meet their minimum requirements for auto insurance. If you find that you're under-insured, you can usually buy auto insurance in the US before you embark on your trip or when you reach your destination. 

While car rental companies usually provide auto insurance, keep in mind that in some countries, the coverage is minimal. 

The best thing to do is to research your destination beforehand and to talk to your insurance company about what's all covered. 

How to Get Your Permit to Drive Internationally: Wrap Up 

Now that you know how to get your permit to drive internationally, it's time to start the paperwork. 

Before you know it, you'll be driving down the open road through another country's beautiful landscape. 

Before you leave, be sure to check back in with our blog for more travel-related tips and tricks. 


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