Applying For an International Drivers License: An Instructional Guide

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Planning your next trip to Europe, Germany, or another country that you want to drive legally in? Learn how to apply for a international license in today’s guide.

international drivers license

The American Automobile Association (AAA) states that anyone attempting to travel to another country should apply for international drivers license.

Doing so makes it easier for officials in other countries understand your information and can assist you in the event you get pulled over. Your license can be translated into 10 different languages, which helps prevents language barriers when you’re traveling.

It can be a lengthy process, but we’re here to help. This guide will show the correct procedures you need to take before applying, how to apply, and what to do afterward.

That being said, let’s start our guide!

Understand What Your Driving Permit Means

Your IDP isn’t a complete driving license. Instead, it’s a translator that changes your native country’s license into 11 different languages. You still have to take your drivers license with you at all times if you want to rent cars internationally.

  • Your permit will be accepted in over 150 countries. In about 40 of those countries, they require an IDP before you can drive in their terrain.
  • The IDP won’t be issued no longer than 6 months before you need it. On average, the IDP expires a month after you use it.

How to Apply

When you apply for international drivers license, there are only two agencies that can send you an IDP legally. If you plan on applying with the AAA. If you plan on getting it from your AA, there are two options.

First, you can download it from their American Automobile Association official site and send the completed form to one of their offices near you. Or, you can mail the application to the nearest AAA office. Also, you can find the closest AAA office in your location on their website.

Or, download the application from a National Automobile Club website then send the form to the NAC. In your application form, present two “passport photos.” You can get your pictures made through the AAA office for a small fee.

The cost of the application is $15. So make sure you have the required identification and your application fee ready before attempting to get your license.  

Submit Your Application in Advance

You don’t want to send your application in hopes of receiving it within 2 days. Realistically, it will take over 7-15 business days for the AAA office to process your application through the mail. Because of this, you want to plan getting your IDP before embarking on your trip.

If you are in a hurry, then you should obtain your IDP in a local AAA office. They’ll be able to process your ID faster, and you’ll be able to receive it the same day.

Use Your IDP In the Country You’re Traveling To

Now that you’ve received your international driver’s license, you can now use it in any country that you’re traveling to. But remember, you’ll need your first driver’s license with you as the IDP translates it for whoever is viewing it.

What to Do Next?

Getting your international drivers license makes it easier for you when you’re traveling. Not only does it help foreign authorities identify you, but allows you to rent cars temporarily. Overall, once you complete your application, you’ll be able to drive almost anywhere.

Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.

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