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International Driving Permit

It appears an IDP is required in Italy. We have booked a car in advance and there was no mention of this requirement. Can they be obtained from the rental company when picking up the car?

Posted by
204 posts

No, you do not need an International Driving Permit. I just returned from Italy last week and I gave them only my Texas driver's license. You do NOT need an IDP. I do not know why this keeps coming up but IT IS NOT NEEDED, PERIOD. We have traveled to Italy for 55 years and NEVER had one and NEVER needed one.

Posted by
4555 posts

Sigh....yet another comment based on personal experiences and not fact. In fact, international drivers' permits ARE required in Italy...have been for more than two years now. An IDP is nothing more than an internationally-recognized translation of your driver's license...what class of license you have, whether there are any driving restrictions on you (glasses, etc). Yes, many people haven't been asked for them when renting a car, or when they've been stopped by police. But if you don't want to take the chance, just visit your closest CAA office, bring along two passport-sized photos (scan and print your passport one if you want) and they'll put together one for you in about 15 minutes. I think it costs about $15. You can pick one up from any office of the Automobile Club d'Italia when you get there...but that won't do you much good if they DO ask for it at the auto rental counter.

Posted by
7205 posts

"""Sigh....yet another comment based on personal experiences and not fact."""

Yes, they may be required by a law that's scribbled in the rule book somewhere, but try to rent a car with an IDP, and you'll leave the rental agency with NO car. They will only accept a "real" driver's license. I've been asked for a driver's license once when I crossed the border into Switzerland. I handed them my IDP and they laughed and said "No No, your REAL drivers license". That's the last time I ever threw my money away on an IDP!

Posted by
4555 posts

Yes, you're absolutely correct. As I said, your IDP is not a license....it's a translation of the license. You must still bring your regular driver's license along with you when you travel. But to state you do not need an IDP in Italy is incorrect. Whether they laughed at it or not, whether you're asked for it by police or not, whether you never had a chance to present it or not doesn't mean you don't need one.

Posted by
204 posts

I hate to cause Matt to sigh once again, but the fact is, after 56 years of travel in Europe, a majority in Italy, you do not need an IDP. As pointed out so often, it is not a driver's license but merely a "translation" of a driver's license and as such it doesn't even "translate". It only puts the standard information in the same places so a non-English speaker can tell where different pieces of information are.

There is always someone who wants to follow the letter of the law no matter how outdated or arcane. That is like the requirement, still on the books in some states, when in town to tie your horse firmly to the rail before going into a store.

However, to garnish the obvious, I called a doctor friend of mine who had a very bad wreck while in Italy about 2 months ago. He offered his IDP to the police who gave it back with none to pleasant a look and told him very firmly that the IDP was "a toy for the tourist". We require your legal license and nothing else, he explained.

Posted by
4555 posts

Actually, it wasn't Matt that was sighing...it was me, but my post was removed for some reason. The law isn't actually an arcane one on the books....it went into effect in Italy just over two years ago. Whether or not your doctor friend had the IDP rejected by police, or whether you have never found the need for one doesn't alter the fact that an IDP is legally required in Italy. As I said in my earlier post, to tell people that you have never had the need for one is fine....but to tell people it is not required is misleading, and could possibly lead to problems for someone who might read your advice. At least give RS fans the chance to follow the law, if they want to.

Posted by
473 posts

As Norm has (patiently) explained, an IDP is a translation of your regular drivers license. If an Italian policeman can say, in English, that an IDP is "a toy for the tourist", then he can almost definitely read an English-language drivers license. But I doubt that every Italian policeman can fluently read English. And do you want to get on the wrong side of a policeman who has to fill out a bunch of paperwork because of your fender-bender? To me, the few dollars for the IDP is money well-spent.

Posted by
5027 posts

True, Andreas. I was being a bit sarcastic, but Norm's point is very valid; there is a distinct difference between what can be got away with and what is proper, or legal. A car rental agency has no interest in an IDP, and if they could get away with it, no interest in a valid license; your credit card is their item of interest. Let's face it, an IDP, Insurance, a Passport, any documentation or coverage, is "not needed" until you actually need it. Prudent advice is that requlations require the IDP for US (and Canadian) citizens driving in Europe, and for the nominal fee, it is best that you get one. Will you actually be asked to produce it, probably not.

Posted by
2779 posts

Paul, actually they do care about your valid means of identification. E.g. Sixt hand out a brand new Mercedes E270CDI to me for €99 a day plus they block a depost of €200 on my credit card. That's it. What if I decided to drive to the Ukraine, sell it there and report my credit card stolen? Sixt would have lost €50,000 or so, which is why they do need your ID. But other than that all they want is your money, I totally agree.

Posted by
5027 posts

Heck, even in the US I do not need a drivers license or insurance to drive a car...until I get caught.

Posted by
2779 posts

Paul, but can't pick up a rental car without showing a valid license, ie. a license that's official and valid where you come from.

Posted by
2691 posts

Hi all,
As this IDP issue/question has been discussed a number of times, I always get one. I've never been asked for it (6 trips so far), but I have it anyway. If you don't think it's necessary, that's fine, but to put things in perspective here... an extra $10 to $12 added to the cost of a $3,000 to $4,000 vacation is not much for "peace of mind" for myself.

Paul

Posted by
1 posts

Just to confirm. Yes, YOU DO need the international driver's permit in Italy. It is common that the rental company not ask for it. However, if you get stopped and you cannot produce it you can expect to be taken down to the policy station. English speaking is not common among Italian gov't officials and you can't expect them to know what my California license with privileges "C and M1" refers to.
So perhaps the short is answer is you only need it if you get stopped!

Posted by
4522 posts

Robert - Welcome but please DO NOT bump a 5 year old thread. There are plenty of other recent threads on this topic, with far more accurate information.