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International Drivers license really necessary for Islands-atv/ mopeds

I was reading Rick Steves Mykonos A Greek Island Treasure, he mentions of all the islands this would be the place to rent an atv or a moped. We are a group of 6, thought it might be fun to rent one in Oct. Is it really necessary to have an International Drivers license to rent an atv or moped? Do they require proof of one?

We will not be renting a car, so don't want to have to get a license just for this one time thing.. one last question we are staying Glyfadi beach or Aleomandra area, can we get around via bus from there ?

Posted by
6245 posts

First of all, it's an ID P - the P stands for "permit." It's not a license.

Second, and more to the point, you have it wrong re the reason you get the IDP. It's not for the rental place - the car (or scooter, bicycle or donkey) rental places don't give a flip about whether you have an IDP or not.

You need an IDP for the police, not for the rental guys. If you get stopped by a cop (or even worse, if you're in an accident - a great risk on a scooter, by the way), the police will want to see your IDP. The rental guys don't care, it's not their problem if the police stop you, that's your problem.

If a drivers license is required to operate a motor vehicle, then you should have the IDP.

I am constantly amazed that anyone would spend thousands of dollars on a foreign trip, then balk at the idea of dropping twenty bucks down at the AAA office for an IDP to improve their experience if/when they get stopped by a police officer overseas. Do what you think is best for you, but I can tell you that when I've been stopped by foreign police officers (and I have been, several times), things went smoothly (and I was let off with no ticket and no hassle) after I handed over my IDP along with my US drivers license.

Be careful with that scooter.

Posted by
32056 posts


As the previous reply indicated, if you need a driver's license to rent anything, then an International Driver's Permit will also be required as well for each driver (if more than one will be driving). These are used in conjunction with your home D.L. so you must take both. IDP's are valid for one year and easily obtainable at any AAA/CAA office for a small fee.

Especially in Greece, if you're involved in any kind of "motor vehicle incident" and don't have an IDP, you could find yourself in a world of misery in a big hurry (including being arrested and detained)! A few excerpts from the U.S. State Department website.....

  • Most insurance companies require that you have both your valid U.S. license and an international driver’s permit (IDP) for coverage in Greece. Small motorbike and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rental firms frequently carry no insurance and require customers to cover the cost of all damages to their vehicles. Your insurance company may not cover two-wheel or ATV rentals.
  • You must carry a valid U.S. license and an international driver’s permit (IDP), even if the rental company does not request to see your IDP. If you drive without one of these documents, you may face high fines or be responsible for all expenses in the event of an accident.

You might want to review the section on Greece to ensure that you have all the facts - .

Posted by
3063 posts

Yes, sometimes it’s possible to rent a car, ATV or scooter just by showing your passport and a current drivers license. No problem.
If you get in an accident and don’t have the IDP you'll be in serious trouble with the Greek Police. Greek Law requires it and if you can't produce it you could possibly be detained until you come up with the cash to pay for any and all damages to the vehicles involved regardless of whose fault it is and whether or not the damages were pre-existing (especially if the other car belongs to a local seizing the opportunity to play the system!)
Your insurance, including what your credit card supposedly provides, will be invalidated because technically you will have been driving illegally.
And in that regard I also encourage you to take out the local insurance offered when you pick up the vehicle, as much coverage as you can get. Don't rely on the automatic insurance your credit card claims to provide you. You'll be in a foreign country and there won't be a claims adjuster handy.
Just as important: Don't take "No Problem" as a substitute for indicating on the rental acceptance form every little scratch, dent, tear, stain, crack and missing part on the vehicle, inside, outside and underneath. Take photos to back up your inspection. If the rental agent resists signing off on all that you've indicated walk away and find another agency.

Posted by
1094 posts

I agree with everything the above posters stated. Get an International Driver's Permit. I get one every year to rent a vehicle in Greece. Go to AAA. The cost for me is $30 which is a deal. It's worth that small amount of money for peace of mind in case of an accident or being stopped by local police.

If any rental company says you don't need a permit to rent one of their vehicles, then go somewhere else!

As stated above why spends hundreds if not thousands of dollars to travel to Greece and try to get out of getting a permit for chump change!

Posted by
546 posts

I think there is some misinformation being put out here. First of all the rental companies DO CARE and want to see your International Driving Permit. Of the 5 cars I have now rented on this trip 4 asked to see the IDP. Two wanted both. Only one used my “real” license and didnt care about the IDP.

As for having the IDP for a scooter or 4 wheeler here on Alonissos I noticed some agencies asking for it as I was shopping around for a car. But not for EU customers.

It is easy quick and cheap to get an IDP my advice is get it and you wont have to worry about it.

Posted by
175 posts

Monica, is super easy, i just got one from AAA, it cost me $28 including the pic. get it and don't worry about it...

Posted by
8889 posts

I noticed some agencies asking for it . . . . But not for EU customers.

If you hold a licence from a EU/EEA country, you don't need an IDP in other EU/EEA countries. All licences issued in the EU/EEA are a standard format, with the same information in the same position on the licence and the same codes for vehicle classes. Just compare it with a licence in your own language and you can interpret it.
A Greek policeman can understand a Danish licence, and a Portuguese policeman a Greek one; they all look the same.

It is licences from outside Europe, with strange formats, codes and in incomprehensible languages that need certifying as valid documents and translating.

Posted by
6806 posts

Just my thoughts...

Yes, Greece went through a period where rental agencies strictly enforced having an IDP, and many places have stuck with that policy. For the cost and ease, just get one.

Beyond that, I still recall all the tourists on scooters and ATVs on both Mykonos and Santorini, and to that it seemed chaotic, wished they would have just taken a bus or taxi. I also have read many accounts of people banged up as a result of accidents (not due to you, but all the other idiots on scooters and ATVs as well as the crazy drivers and taxis); so make sure everybody has good travel insurance with evacuation coverage..

Posted by
93 posts

Wow, never been scolded before on RS Forum, but point taken, so the last comment about evac insurance sealed it, no scooters or atv...thanks

Does anyone know if there is good bus transportation from the Glyfadi/ Aleomandra
area, which is where our hotel is?


Posted by
546 posts

Monica for heavens sake do not be scared off by people predicting doom and disaster at every turn. Speeds are generally very low, roads are narrow and windy but not more so than our National Park roads in some places. MILLIONS of people come to the Greek Islands and rent scooters and 4 wheelers and cars...very very very few of those have accidents fewer still have serious accidents.

Go take a bus ride around the Island and you will see for yourself....then go rent your scooter and have fun.

Posted by
1094 posts

You may want to check out this link regarding road safety and driving in Greece:

This paragraph should be considered if you want to rent a scooter:

"Moreover, 35 percent of SVC fatalities involved motorcycle riders who are more exposed to danger compared with car and truck drivers."

I rent a car . . . it's safer, you can carry more gear, and if you do have an accident your chances of a minor injury let alone being killed is a lot better.

Having said that I've seen a lot of people on scooters including locals only because they are cheaper to rent/buy and have better fuel economy. However, is that worth saving a few euros over not being seriously injured or killed?

Posted by
3222 posts

I've visited more than 25 Greek Islands since '99, and have been to Santorini at least 5 x and mykonos 4 x. Those are the only 2 islands where, walking in the main town mid-day, I have seen young adults (say 21 - 30), bumping along with casts on feet, arms in slings with casts, and twice, a full-leg cast. My friends & i always commiserate, and invariably the answer is, accident with scooter or ATV. In addition, while using the busses or taxis to get around on each island, (and believe me, the roads are NOT wide, and the "berm" on each side is small or nonexistent), I have seen people taking chances awkwardly on scooters, ATV etc. If you are a motorcycle owner and frequent user in US, that's one thing. A newcomer, um.

Posted by
6806 posts

I did not mean to sound harsh. I am sure thousands of people rent scooters and ATV's and do so safely and have a great time. My experience though, on both Santorini and Mykonos, would steer me away from that activity. There really are not that many roads on these islands, most are on the narrow side, asphalt, conditions vary (potholes, loose gravel, etc.), and are used by buses, hotel vans, Taxis, plus all of the rentals, and of course service vehicles. In the right season, maybe not a problem, but in busier times with a cruise ship or two in port to boot, it can get pretty congested. Basically it gets down to the possible recipe of taxis and buses rushing to drop off fares, combined with a lot small vehicles driven by people unfamiliar with the roads and probably the vehicle they are driving, not good overall.

If you get there, crowds are down, it seems sane to you as you observe traffic, and you are familiar with a scooter or ATV, then go for it. I would still have some type of additional insurance coverage, since it does up the risk factor (I would do the same if I was planning on para-gliding, rock climbing, even just hiking in the mountains).

Posted by
10322 posts

If you use a motorized vehicle that has a license plate on it, you need an IDP to operate it legally.

The wisdom of an ATV, scooter or some such thing is dependent on your skill level. Rarely is it a good idea to learn how to operate a 'strange' vehicle in a foreign land in a with other tourists driving unfamiliar cars in unfamiliar locations.

Posted by
546 posts

I am sorry but I have to add that just because one sees “young people in casts” on an Island that is known as Party Central with bars open all night and binge drinking contests doesn’t mean that can translate to any place else. Bad behavior often gets bad results and I would bet most of those accidents have other factors at alcohol.

Riding a Scooter: They are easy, intuitive and generally slow. If you can ride a bicycle in traffic at home you can certainly ride a scooter...This is not a Harley or a Ducati we’re talking about.

I am not suggesting you do anything against your better judgement. Only you can decide. But I do think that the dangers have been far overblown here about this issue.

27 Million people visited Greece last year A LOT of them rented cars scooters and ATV’s, the vast vast majority went home in one piece and uninjured.

Posted by
1094 posts

Re: 27 Million people visited Greece last year A LOT of them rented cars scooters and ATV’s, the vast vast majority went home in one piece and uninjured.

Unless, of course you are part of the: "35 percent of SVC fatalities involved motorcycle riders who are more exposed to danger compared with car and truck drivers."

I'd rather have steel around my for protection rather than a pair of sandals, shorts and a shirt sleeve shirt.

Posted by
546 posts

@Tomyk5...That statistic Is a general population one. It is Not limited to tourists.

And in Fact most accidents in Greece happen on the Mainland not on the islands.

It is also a misleading statistic because of course fatalities are more likely on two wheeled vehicles ANYWHERE even in the US. Comparing fatalities between two wheeled vehicles and trucks isn’t really the point here.

What bothers me about these kinds of discussions is that I get the strong impression that those who are afraid to do something try to convince others not to do the same activity even though that activity is no more dangerous or even less dangerous than many other activities they may persue while on vacation.

They often haul out misleading or irrelevant statistics to make their point. (And I suspect part of this is justifying one’s own fear of something)

To me this is the worst kind of nanny-ism there is. If a person is the type to want to do a particular activity I assume they have considered the obvious. I give them the benefit of being an intelligent and capable person.

A cautionary post is one thing...but instilling fear...groundless fear of a simple activity done my MILLIONS of people safely and happily is altogether another thing.

BTW Greece apparently has so few serious tourist accidents they don’t bother to break them out statistically that I can find. I am still looking though...

Posted by
1094 posts

The OP never stated if this was their first time in Greece so I was trying to let them know that driving in Greece will be a whole lot different than in the US (Hawaii) and not to assume because motor scooters are readily available they would be their best option for first-timers.

It's up to anyone to decide what's best for them but more importantly do as much research as possible before making decision.

Am I afraid to drive a motor scooter . . . yes . . . not just in Greece, but anywhere. I have many friends who ride motorcycles and for most of them they have been involved in accidents . . . some minor others very serious, and that's in the US not in a foreign country.

I won't tell someone what they should drive but I will make suggestions.

Anyone who hasn't driven in Greece may want to check out this website and pay special attention to item #4.

If anyone plans to drive in Greece know what the rules are and don't think just because you don't see the Police they are not around.

Posted by
93 posts

Thank you, last website was amazingly informative, really appreciate it, thanks..