How to Get an International Drivers Permit For Americans

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AAA offers an international driver’s permit if you have a valid driver’s license. This is a must-have for international travel. Even if you don’t plan on driving during your trip it is a great back up form of identification. The international driver’s permit is a small booklet that resembles a passport with a passport photo that can be used for identification while traveling.

A few years ago I was driving in Chile and was pulled over on the highway. I was so nervous and didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. I handed the officer my international driver’s permit as well as my California driver’s license. He looked over the documents and even though he couldn’t communicate with me why he pulled me over, it was obvious I was going too fast. He tried to tell me to slow down and turn on my headlights (despite that it was 11 am) and let me on my way.

In Thailand, our international drivers permits saved us from paying fines for driving a motorbike. The permit even allowed us to drive motorcycles in Asia. With traffic checkpoints around every corner, this permit saved us from paying 500B fines on a daily basis. Although you don’t need a license to rent a bike in Thailand, the corrupt police love to set up checkpoints to get money out of clueless tourists for not having a Thai license. Every time they saw our international permit they would let us on our way and not try to fine us.

To get the permit you can apply via mail or walk into an AAA office. You’ll need 2 passport photos (must be 2×2) and the fee is $15 for members and non-members. If you don’t have passport photos you can take them in office (they cost $8 for members and) $15 if you’re not a member. You can just walk in, fill out a form and walk out with your permit on the same day. It’s a must-have for travelers!

While not every county accepts this permit, most do. Check for an updated list when you apply. Here is a list, that as of now, accepts this driving permit:

* Not party to 1949 Convention: International Driving Permit Honored.

** U.S. driver’s license and IDP recognized on presentation to local police and payment of special registration fee upon arrival.

Afghanistan*

Albania

Algeria

Angola*

Anguilla*/**

Antigua*/**

Argentina

Armenia*

Aruba

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan*

Bahamas

Bahrain*

Bangladesh

Barbados**

Belarus*

Belgium

Belize

Benin

Bhutan*

Bolivia*

Botswana

Brunei*

Bulgaria

Burkina Faso (was Upper Volta)*

Cambodia (was Kampuchea)

Cameroon*

Canada

Cape Verde Islands*

Cayman Islands*

Central Africa Rep.

Chad*

Chile

Colombia*

Comoros*

Congo, Rep. of (Brazzaville)

Congo, Dem. Rep. of (Kinshasa)

Costa Rica*

Cote d’ Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Croatia*

Cuba

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Djibouti*

Dominica*/**

Dominican Rep.

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador*

Equatorial Guinea*

Estonia*

Fiji

Finland

France (including French overseas territories)

French Polynesia

Gabon*

Gambia

Georgia

Germany*

Ghana

Gibraltar

Greece

Grenada

Guatemala

Guernsey

Guinea*

Guinea-Bissau*

Guyana

Haiti

Honduras*

Hong Kong

Hungary

Iceland

India

Indonesia*

Iran*

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Jamaica

Japan

Jersey

Jordan

Kazakhstan*

Kenya*

Korea (Rep.)

Kuwait*

Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Latvia*

Lebanon

Lesotho

Liberia*

Libya*

Liechtenstein*

Lithuania*

Luxembourg

Macao*

Madagascar

Malawi

Malaysia

Mali

Malta

Mauritania*

Mauritius

Mexico*

Moldova*

Monaco

Montserrat*/**

Morocco

Mozambique*

Myanmar*

Namibia

Nepal*

Netherlands

Netherlands Antilles

New Caledonia

New Zealand

Nicaragua*

Niger

Norway

Oman*

Pakistan*

Panama*

Papua New Guinea

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Quatar*

Romania

Russia

Rwanda

St. Kitts & Nevis*/**

St. Lucia

St. Vincent & The Grenadines

San Marino

Sao Tome & Principe*

Saudi Arabia*

Senegal

Serbia & Montenegro

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

Singapore

Slovakia

Slovenia*

South Africa

Spain

Sri Lanka

Sudan*

Suriname

Swaziland

Sweden

Switzerland*

Syria

Taiwan

Tajikistan*

Tanzania

Thailand

Togo

Trinidad & Tobago

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkmenistan*

Uganda

Ukraine*

United Arab Emirates*

United Kingdom

Uzbekistan*

Vatican City (Holy See)

Venezuela

Vietnam*

Western Samoa

Yemen*

Zambia

Zimbabwe

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