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IDL needed for rental car in Austria?

We are thinking of renting a car in Germany and crossing over into Austria for some of our road trip.

We have read conflicting information about whether one needs an IDL in Austria - if so, that would be a first in Europe for us!

Also, has anyone gotten the Vignette needed for Austria in these circumstances? We hear you can get them in German gas stations but not sure if there's anything else we would need to know to make the process easier.

Thank you!

Posted by
5450 posts

Please refer to the US Embassy in Austria link here which confirms the need for an IDP - https://at.usembassy.gov/motoring-driving-law/

If you are stopped by authorities or if you are in an accident and do not have an IDP, then you will have issues.

Regarding the vignette, the link about also has helpful information. A more helpful link from ASFINAG is also here which describes the new digital vignette - https://www.asfinag.at/en/. Cars I’ve rented have always already had a vignette sticker so ask the rental car company as well.

Posted by
2011 posts

ASFINAG is building and maintaining Austria's highways (Autobahn) as well as collecting the toll. Most of Austrian car owners have the digital toll sticker (vignette) in the meantime since its introduction.

Should your rental car do not bear the toll sticker, you must obtain one. Buying the digital sticker yourself online is not an option for you, because you need to know the license plate number of your car which you don't get in advance normally. The digital sticker is NOT valid for 18 days after the online purchase. This is due the Consumer Protection Law which allows you to cancel any online purchase within 14 days.

Nevertheless, you can get the toll sticker at offices of the German or Austrian equivalents to the AAA.
https://www.adac.de/
https://www.oeamtc.at/
https://www.arboe.at/

Posted by
8205 posts

Gas stations on either side of the border sell'em.

The Austrian scenery is well worth the price.

Posted by
4603 posts

We have read conflicting information about whether one needs an ID[P] in Austria

Experiences differ so there will always be conflicting information.

Noting that most US states have gone to an EU format license which uses numbers in addition to words for fields, i.e it is “pre-translated” when issued so the IDP provides no actual utility. Unfortunately California is not one of those states.

Posted by
33124 posts

The law is the law, and I wouldn't want to be the one to try to tell the police, "But I was told that my driving licence is just like yours". Don't know how well that would hold up in court.. (I wouldn't want to have to go to court to plead my case).

Posted by
146 posts

Next question - Where can I get an IDL in Europe as an American? We are already here and can't get one through AAA from abroad.

Posted by
33124 posts

Emily, that may be difficult for our OP.

From the page you linked, -

Prerequisites are possession of a valid EU/EEA driving license and residence in Austria.

Posted by
11382 posts

Already Overseas?

If you are currently overseas you can mail your completed application to the following office and address:

AAA/IDP
1000 AAA Drive
Heathrow, FL 32746
Attn: Mail Stop #28
Please allow 5-7 weeks for return mail.
Due to the recent change in U.S. Customs law impacting USPS Express International mail, FedEx
will be used to most countries. Go to FedEx.com for additional charges. Please provide a street address for delivery, and expect delivery up to 10 business days after IDP is processed.*
https://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html#overseas

You look to have a problem for which I know of no quick solution.

Posted by
5450 posts

Nigel - I know plenty of Americans who have gotten an IDP from the OAMTC office in Vienna, including my husband.

Posted by
33124 posts

that's good to know... maybe they need to amend their website

Posted by
11382 posts

How does one get an English version of the website Emily included?

Posted by
33124 posts

I have my browser set to, upon request, translate pages. Even though I have decent German I allowed the Google Translate extension to do the heavy lifting....

Posted by
146 posts

UPDATE: Rental car agency assured us we did not need an IDL/official translation. We went to get one anyway.

At the ADAC office in Freiburg they were completely bewildered by our request. They looked up the requirements with their Austrian partner and told us there was no such requirement in Austria, that you can drive there up to 12 months without one. And specifically, that while some countries are barred from it, US (and we even asked specifically about California licenses) were ok.

They called their Austrian counterparts again and afyer lengthy research those folks also said it was not clear to them. So it seems there is no clear answer on this one. Will post again if I get more info.

Posted by
373 posts

International Driving Permit.

Friday morning insomnia so I thought I might make this contribution.

www.internationaldrivingpermit.org Why Carry An IDP?

“Your IDP is a legal travel document regulated by the United Nations, and it is for your protection and safety. IDPs are a requirement for renting a motor vehicle in many countries and can be helpful if you find yourself in need of identification or assistance. Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in several languages –so it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit. In no way does it diminish the obligation of the holder to conform strictly to the laws and regulations of the countries you visit. A valid IDP allows you to drive in most foreign countries in case of an emergency under normal IDP conditions.”

One is free to accept or reject the above.

From the Library of Congress. (An excellent depository of international law papers.)

Introduction - Guide to Law Online: Austria - Research Guides at Library of Congress (loc.gov)

www.guides.loc.gov/law-austria

USA case laws.

US Case Law, Court Opinions & Decisions : Justia

https://law.justia.com/cases

From an Austrian law site

www.ris.bka.gv.at (select translate to English if needed).

No doubt someone can devote the time to direct to a case law reference where the above first reference principle in regard to UN view of IDP is overridden and set aside in Austrian Law. Or USA jurisdictional overseas law. I am too indolent to look.

So dear members of the jury, you decide if the above written legal referenced statement is contradicted and overridden by written reports of verbal hearsay and by verbal assurances made by salespersons.

Your choice.

Life, investing et al, is often spoken of in terms of risk against reward. Saving circa $50 and a little time? I see no reward from taking this type of risk.

Adequate travel and health insurance can be a useful protection should an indiscreet action bring one into conflict in another country, an IDP may be a similar prudent insurance.

Regards Ron

Posted by
146 posts

Lest anyone think that we are trying to get out of obtaining an IDP, let me assure you that we have actually been trying for over 3 weeks in Europe and spent hours researching, waiting in line, and being sent to various agencies. Nobody on the ground seems to know the official requirements. The closest we have gotten is being told "it depends on the individual police officer."

And to clarify, as previously noted, the orgs we have been working with on this are not salespeople (they actually make 65 euro off issuing IDPs).

They are the German or Austrian equivalents to the AAA.
https://www.adac.de/
https://www.oeamtc.at/
https://www.arboe.at/

Posted by
4603 posts

Boy, if the rental car agency is not requiring it then my goodness, why are you spending time on this?

Rick Steves has gone on record saying he has never obtained one.

Posted by
146 posts

The point is that ADAC, OEAMTC, ARBOE etc are not sure the information on the US Embassy site is even correct.

If you want to be super careful in Austria I'd recommend getting one before you leave the US.

Posted by
5450 posts

Austria is definitely not the only country to require the IDP.

Posted by
4603 posts

The car rental agencies obviously don’t require the IDP…the police do!

Actually there are many recorded instances of rental car agencies refusing to rent cars to drivers without IDPs in many countries like Italy and Greece and the Czech Republic (even recently in Germany, it was written up in a travel magazine) so inability to obtain a rental car and gumming up the trip is by far the greater risk of not carrying an IDP than having a police issue. Although how much of a risk of a police issue is in doubt. Recorded instances in Europe on travel forums for any popular European country are extremely rare, like it happened once 12 years ago in Spain kind of rare.

Summarizing data for Austria:
1. Incidents reported of a tourist having a police issue with an English language driving license and without an IDP, on this forum, Fodor's, or TripAdvisor in the last 15 years: Zero
2. Incidents of a human case of rabies reported in Austria in the last 15 years: One
3. People struck by lightening in Austria: Many incidents every year.