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Do I Need an International Driver's Permit to Drive in Europe?

Do you need an Internationals Driver’s Permit in Europe?


Though an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is not always necessary to drive or rent a car in Europe, it definitely provides peace-of-mind and can be helpful in a number of situations: a routine traffic stop, if you get pulled over, or if there is an accident. In many countries, an IDP is not required to rent a car or sign a short-term lease, but be sure to confirm with the vehicle company prior to picking up your car in Europe. Auto France does not require drivers to carry an IDP when picking up their vehicle, but we recommend having one should you be asked of it by a police officer or government official. You can click here to read more about the requirements for leasing a vehicle through the Auto France Open Europe Program. 

What is an International Driver’s Permit (IDP)?


An International Driver’s Permit is not a separate license for which drivers must qualify, but rather it is simply a translation of your current, valid driver’s license in multiple languages- which is especially helpful in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, and France where you may not speak the language. Countries that recognize IDP require that it be shown alongside your US driver’s license, and it is not a sufficient proof of license on its own. Sometimes confusingly referred to as an International Driver’s License, understand that an IDP is a valid form of identification and is not valid as a form of a Driver's License unless shown in conjunction with your official state-issued Driver’s License.

How do I apply for an International Driver’s Permit?


For drivers from the United States, the only source recommended by the DMV to issue International Driver's Permits is AAA. You do not need to be a AAA member to apply for a IDP through AAA. Note- avoid other unauthorized websites that advertise the sale of International Driving Permits, as they may scam you for money and sell you paperwork that is not recognized by government officials. Showing insufficient or fraudulent documentation in a time of need or emergency will only add to an already stressful situation, so be sure to obtain your IDP from AAA, the only association officially endorsed by the US Department of State. 

An International Driver’s Permit from AAA is valid for one year and can be processed in as little as 24 hours if you can provide each of the below requirements:

- 2 passport sized photos
- a valid US state-issued driver’s license
- $20 processing fee
- In-person visit to your local AAA branch. If you are not able to visit in-person, you can submit your application by mail which may take 4-6 weeks for processing, or 10 days if you pay for expedited return service. You can also utilize expedited return service if you are already in Europe when you apply for your International Driver’s Permit.

For more information about obtaining an IDP from AAA, click here.


Remembering to get an IDP before traveling through Europe can make your experience much more relaxed and enjoyable. Renting a car long-term or leasing a car short-term through the Auto France Open Europe program is easy and much more practical than an ordinary car rental. Choose from our fleet of brand-new, latest-model Peugeots and start planning your trip today. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, or a combination of both, a short-term lease through Auto France is sure to make your trip memorable.


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