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International Driving Permits: Do You Need One & How Do You Get One?

If you’re planning a multi-week tour of Europe, renting a car may be a good way to make sure you see the sites and take those spontaneous side trips that other types of travel don’t always permit. It should be no stretch of the imagination that we believe Auto France will bring you the most value to the trip, as we have been facilitating that sort of long-term car rental in Europe since 1991!

When you’re planning your trip, you want to factor in transportation variables. This brings us to two of the most popular questions our customers ask:

Will I Need An International Driving Permit When I'm In Europe?

Well, it depends on your definition of “need.” To rent from Auto France, you will not need an International Driving Permit. We only require that you provide us with a copy of your passport and a signed contract. But that’s not to say you won’t need one depending on the countries you drive through.

International Driving Permits are documents that have been around since the 1940s to create uniform standards and provide a means of identifying foreign travelers as legal drivers in their respective countries. The IDP simply translates the details of one’s individual home country driver’s license into ten different languages, so foreign authorities may read the details of the original license in a language with which they are familiar. It is important to note that an IDP is never a replacement for an actual driver’s license, they work concurrently with your US or Canadian license while you drive in Europe.

It is true that in Europe, most countries do not require an IDP. However, when driving in Italy, Austria, and some Eastern Europe countries, a current IDP is required. In many other cases, a valid IDP and passport might make border-crossing procedures much quicker. Looking at it from the perspective of a border agent (and human nature in general), they will likely appreciate that you have taken the time to have a document that makes their job and life easier, and for that you will be granted passage much easier.

How Do I Get An International Driving Permit?

The process to acquire an International Driving Permit is as easy as filling out a form on the AAA website. The cost of the IDP for a US driver is currently $15.00 through AAA—hardly a significant amount to pay to avoid problems later.

The United States Department of State recommends that each US citizen driving in a foreign country should have an International Driving Permit along with their valid driver’s license. They also recommend that you check with the US Embassy in each country that you plan to travel for their specific requirements and driving laws for foreign drivers.

With any long-term trip in Europe, there is always more room for error the longer you stay. If you a few simple precautionary steps before you go, you will put the odds in your favor to produce a trip of lifetime that goes on without a hitch! 

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