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International Driver's License

Does anyone know if in 2021 Italy still requires drivers to have an International Driver's License while driving in the country?

Posted by
20899 posts

It is International Driver's Permit. It is a translation of your driver's license. Yes, Italy still requires it. It is always a good idea to have it.

Posted by
1092 posts

Yes, as Frank says, and the AAA will tell you it is recommended for every country you may enquire about, even if it is not needed.

Posted by
109 posts

In fact, when we were in Italy in 2019 the rental agency required proof that we had an IDL when we picked up our car. Not sure if that's standard procedure now or not but I'm glad I had one.

Posted by
1600 posts

hey hey ozzy
as other's have mentioned, it is a permit (IDP) not a license. a legal requirement to drive in foreign countries. most rental car agencies are asking now that you have one, if not they will cancel you right on the spot, i have heard it happened to couple friends. if by chance "hope not" you get stopped by a police officer, they ask for it, if not a big fine.
AAA/CAA offers them. you'll need 2 passport size photos, $20-30, and your driver's license for each driver. ready same day. it's a piece of mind. enjoy and have a great trip
aloha

Posted by
24624 posts

If you have a DL from a US State (your Location reads you are from USA) the answer is yes.

For some others, for example DL from a country in the EU, the answer is no.

The IDP verifies your DL and translates certain information into the words used in, for example, Italy.

Yes, Italy requires it for non-EU.

Posted by
6976 posts

The week I had a rental car in Italy, I went through 2 'random' checkpoints where the police were waving cars to the side. In one instance it was the car directly in front of me.
Yes, they do check and you do not have to do something wrong to get pulled over.

Posted by
722 posts

Its a requirement now. Just the way things are. And it isn't an international driver's licence, its an accepted translation to several languages that you have the permissions to drive in your home country. How AAA got a monopoly on this, I don't know. :)

Posted by
24624 posts

How AAA got a monopoly on this, I don't know. :)

Not quite a monopoly. National Auto Club also has the right to check DLs and issue IDPs. Anybody a member of National?

Each nation signatory to the treaty has the authority to appoint whoever they wish to handle it.

In Canada it is the CAA

In the UK it is the Post Office.

Posted by
2546 posts

I don’t mind getting an IDP knowing that it is required or suggested in some countries in which I’ll be renting a car. My driver license expires in 2027. The annoying thing is that the IDP is only valid for one year. If the various states used the EU’s format for licenses, we wouldn’t even need an IDP.

Posted by
31180 posts

Ozzy,

As others have mentioned, you will need an International Driver's Permit for driving in Italy. It is valid for one year and must be used in conjunction with your home DL so don't forget to check the expiry date and pack that as well. While you may never be asked to show the IDP, if you are asked and can't produce it, you could be fined on the spot! You can easily obtain an IDP at any AAA / CAA office for a small fee. They can often take the Passport-sized photos in the office where you obtain the permit.

It's also a good idea to have one for driving in France, and it is compulsory for other countries in Europe. Don't try driving in Greece without an IDP!

Posted by
178 posts

The answer is: yes it is still mandatory.
This is the official Italian webpage where is reported the rule: https://www.mit.gov.it/mit/site.php?p=cm&o=vd&id=308#4 (at point 4)

Is even true that the most of policemen are used to driving licenses written in English, because the IDL is required only for citizen from outside European Union. So, even if required, if you are controlled the most of time the policeman says that is OK.

The important point to keep in mind is that in Italy drive without a valid license (even the IDL if required) means driving with no license at all. So is not only a matter of a fine, but you aren't allowed to continue driving and your car is taken in custody. So you must call a taxi to continue and manage with the rental company the problems (and costs!) of a custody. And what about the insurance if you have an incident and don't have the IDL? Do they accept to pay for the damages or they use your lack as en excuse? Who knows?
So, in my opinion, even if is only an extra, is better have it.

Posted by
1858 posts
  • The problem from cops ' pov is being able to check if a driving license from Manchuria, Minnesota or Martinica is real. Or it was made up at home with a good printer and an expired Starbucks fidelity card. Since US licences are issued by the states, and one is quite different from the other, I wouldn't bet on cops to always say "it's ok" to US drivers. Especially if the driver isn't an obvious, white American tourist (I know, this world su*s, but any turban wearing young guy in any airport all over the world will confirm that racial profiling is real).

  • When you sign a rental agreement, you undertake to follow the law. All laws, including the one requiring non EU citizens to have an IDP. No law says that employees must act as cops and check if you are telling the truth about the IDP or not. More and more companies do it, and I appreciate that.

  • If you have a serious car crash and the cops write in the official report you had no IDP... you can bet the insurance company will try to save some money. Especially when they realize you are a foreign tourist who signed the rental agreement and made a false statement. A registered letter from your lawyer to their lawyer could solve the problem, but how many foreign tourists are going to hire an Italian lawyer?

PS Since you are driving in Italy I am sure you have already printed the ZTL sign and taped it to the bathroom mirror.

Posted by
3011 posts

Not addressing the topic of actual Italian requirement, the enhanced Minnesota drivers license referenced above SHOULD work for any reasonable Italian situation, the licenses are very close in design and the enhanced license (available in some states) meets US State Dept international border crossing regulations and sports an American flag so the country of origin is clear. Note the Vienna numbering scheme is used on the Minnesota license-- cross-referencing the Vienna numbers with the fields on the foreign license is the main function of the IDP so on many US licenses this is already accomplished.

Enhanced Minnesota DL

Typical Italian DL

Unfortunately lots of misinformation here, that the IDP is a "translation" (it's not at all a translation), and that the translation of the French permis into either the English permit or license has some kind of special meaning (it doesn't).

Posted by
5515 posts

Tom, but if the Italian law doesn't change, it's still not valid, is it? Yeah, I know much of the world works on the principle of hoping the cop won't want to mess with it. "Enhanced" DLs are only offered in some states, right? Not the same as a Real ID. So again, you can't count on a foreign cop to immediately recognize all the states' and territories' versions as being valid.

But I thought the value of the IDP is not as a translation, but as a verification from a recognized authority (the AAA staff person) that they have looked at your state DL and determined it is valid. Like a notarization.

I asked a few different police officers in the US what they do when someone presents a non-US DL in a language that they cannot read, and gotten answers from "lock 'em up" to "call it in" or "let 'em go if its almost end of shift".

Posted by
2989 posts

Here we go, again. This topic recurs periodically and generates an amazing amount of hot air, considering the trivial cost and effort involved in acquiring an idp. Just DO IT.
By the way, the suggestion, above, to tape a copy of the ztl sign to your bathroom mirror, though made, I believe, tongue in cheek, is a variation on something I have started to do and find helpful. I find the meaning of the symbols associated with car usage less than obvious. For that reason, I make copies of the ones I think will be frequently encountered and tape the list, with a translation, to the dash of my rental.

Posted by
3011 posts

Stan: That's a perfectly valid viewpoint. If the purpose is that it's required, then fine (I'd check tripadvisor for current information-- maybe there isn't any current information). But there's likely no other purpose to it, at least for states or provinces that are very close to the European format. What’s the point of putting Vienna Convention items on American and Canadian driver’s licenses if they are not ever going to be used?

Posted by
24624 posts

I'd check tripadvisor for current information

because they are a definitive source?

Posted by
1858 posts

Tom, are u ok? I mean, it's quite obvious I just picked three remote places beginning with M.

If you think a typical Italian Cop knows what Minnesota is, I am afraid you are overestimating the mighty powers of Hollywood.

I could print a New England driving license by the book (written in Vienna) and no Italian Cop at the end of his/her shift would find it strange. At the beginning, the same cop would ask for an IDP.

Posted by
20899 posts

My Colorado enhanced DL looks very different than Tom's example. CO has had the complying DL for several years so maybe the standards have changed. No US flag (does say USA) and a white star on a black background in the upper right hand corner that, I thought, id the license as complying with the new standards. It has a number of anti-fraud features not present in Tom's example and more information. For example -- my US Army service is noted under a Veteran's title. So I would think that you would still need the IDP to id the important information.

Posted by
543 posts
  1. I've had an IDP every time I've rented in Europe (1994, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2018; in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece).

  2. No one has ever asked whether I have an IDP.

Posted by
1683 posts

Here we go, again. This topic recurs periodically and generates an amazing amount of hot air, considering the trivial cost and effort involved in acquiring an idp. Just DO IT.

Amen. It is simple and cheap. People love to bring up the "well, I've never been asked to provide it" spurious argument. That doesn't matter. It's a requirement.

While we are sort of on the subject, I'd like to point out that you don't see police patrolling the roads like you do in the states. That doesn't mean they don't know what you're doing. European countries also have a zero tolerance for speeding. It the speed limit is 90 km/hr, then you best be doing that or less. 92 will get you a ticket. The last time we were in France, our rental car's GPS kept up with the speed limit and an indicator would flash red if we exceeded it. It was a nice reminder.

Posted by
20899 posts

....No one has ever asked whether I have an IDP..... Doesn't prove a single point other than YOU have not been asked. First, the rental agency does not enforce the law so they don't ask. (Although two years agp in Rome we were asked - first time) In the past there have been a couple of postings here of being asked to produce the IDP by the police. One involved a minor fender scrape and the police, the poster claimed, want to impound his rental because he didn't have the IDP.

Simple question --- Is it better to have it and not need it or to not have it and you need it. Your choice.

Posted by
31180 posts

"No one has ever asked whether I have an IDP."

I was asked in Greece, and would not have been allowed to rent the vehicle without it. Becoming involved in a vehicle accident in Greece and not having an IDP can result in severe consequences.

I agree with Frank.... It's better to have it and not need it rather than not have it and need it.

Posted by
12063 posts

The answer to your question is at Art. 135 of the Italian Vehicle Code.

https://www.brocardi.it/codice-della-strada/titolo-iv/art135.html

They may not ask for one at the rental car office, since they are used to seeing American driver’s licenses, but in the unlikely event you get pulled over by the police, or if you get into an accident, the fine for not having one ranges from a minimum of €408 to a maximum of €1,634. That would be $480 to almost $2,000 (See §8 of the above mentioned art.135).

It is entirely your choice if you want to take that chance to save the $25 to get one at AAA. Some people have a risk appetite higher than others.

Posted by
543 posts

Amen. It is simple and cheap. People love to bring up the "well, I've never been asked to provide it" spurious argument. That doesn't matter. It's a requirement.

Hence why I said I had one every time I drove in Europe. I just prefer to give people facts and let them make their own decisions rather than moralize about the "right" thing to do.