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International Driving Permit

My rental agreement says I need to present "an international driving permit" along with drivers license. How do I obtain this?

Posted by
4071 posts

Yup, Auto Club, You need some passport type photos and some money, that is all. Don't leave home without it.

Posted by
5819 posts

Any AAA can do them. To save time, you can print and fill out the form before going into the office. $20 for the IDP and an extra $12 or so if you don’t bring your own passport photos (2 of them). I just got a new one and made the effective date, the day I pick up the rental. IDPs are good for a year. I’ve never had anybody ask to see it. The rental company only wanted to see my valid U.S. license.

It’s interesting that it requires an IDP for those whose license is already in English.

Posted by
4071 posts

Be careful, the IDP is a pretty hot topic here on the forum. Tends to get folks riled up.

I say, get it even if you don't think you need it, because if it turns out you need it, it's too late. Plus it's a souvenir of your trip.

Posted by
31563 posts

Don't forget, those blue painted Picts speak a different language up there...

Posted by
3 posts

Many, many thanks everyone! This is great information and really should go in an update to to the RS Scotland book.

Posted by
4071 posts

if you're new to Euro travel you might not know about this, but it's common knowledge and has been around since forever. I bet on rental sites it's one of the first things they mention.

Posted by
3799 posts

My rental agreement says I only need an IDP if driver's license is not in English.

Posted by
6407 posts

And it's not specific to Scotland -- it's pretty much anyplace outside your home country (typically in places that don't speak English).

Think of it the other way around/shoe on the other foot: I don't know where you live, but let's say you live in I dunno, Texas.

Some nice tourist from, I dunno, Italy or Japan, flies to your state, rents a car, and drives off to do tourist stuff. They have a minor car accident, or they run a stop sign, and a friendly local police officer arrives on the scene, or pulls them over them. That Italian or Japanese tourist digs nervously in the glove compartment, pulls out their Hertz or Alamo rental contract, digs in their wallet, and hands over their drivers license issued in Sardinia or Hokkaido, and gives that to the police officer. Officer looks at it and blinks...

Do you think that officer reads and understands Italian or Japanese? Can they tell if the license they were handed has expired, or even if it's a real driver's license at all? Probably not -- at least not without some kind of standardized, certified translation identifying what specific info the various boxes and fields on the license contain. That's what an IDP is for.

True fact: In both Japan (Hokkaido) and in Italy (Sardinia), I needed to show my papers to a cop. I was pretty nervous -- I had just violated traffic regulations right in front of them (d'oh!!!), so I had good reason to be nervous. I handed over my US-issued (Washington state) drivers license, my passport, the stack of car rental paperwork (hoping there was some kind of vehicle registration in there), along with my International Driver's Permit. Then I smiled, tried to look sympathetic, and waited. The cops looked over everything, did not write me a ticket, handed me back my papers, told me (in broken English) to please be more careful next time, and to enjoy my trip. I was free, and drove off thanking my stars that I had the foresight and the twenty bucks to get that IDP before my trip.

My advice: Wherever you are going outside the US, if you plan to drive there, as the old commercials used to say...Don't Leave Home Without It.

Posted by
517 posts

I've gotten permits only for countries where English was not the native language. From the AutoEurope website, I found the following:

International Driving Permits are required in the following countries for US Licensed drivers:
Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Spain. (probably not an all inclusive list, but the countries in which AutoEurope does rentals).
The requirement may be from your rental car company not the UK or Scotland.

Posted by
5677 posts

I googled it and it costs $20. What percentage of your trip's budget is $20? Well, $20 and a photo. Oh, I guess there is travel time and fret to contact AAA. Just get it. :).