Get Your International Driving Permit
Are you planning to backpack your way around the world? Are you a travel blogger? Does your work allow you to fly frequently to other regional offices or international markets? If yes, then you understand the frustration of public transport or being dependent on others. However, this wouldn’t have been a problem if you were allowed to drive. In order to drive in multiple countries across the globe, you need an international driving permit. Nonetheless, before browsing through the classified for car services, it is better to consider how to acquire an IDP.
An international driver’s permit verifies that a person is eligible to drive. However, this document alone is of no use to foreign authorities. A person needs to carry their driver’s license too, along with this.
An International Driving Permit – What It Is & Why Do You Need It
Every country that accepts an international driver’s permit has offices, from where people can acquire this document. However, there is a small process that needs to be carried out through which a person can obtain the international driver’s permit.
Several entities can issue an IDP. However, you need to see which organization is recognized by your country’s authorities and is serving in the countries you are planning to visit. In the US, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) provide the international driver’s permit.
Obtaining an International Driving Permit
An international driver’s permit can be acquired from a designated center (s) that is in the country where the driving license was issued. There is a small process that needs to be completed, which is as follows.
1. Check Your Eligibility
Go on the official website or your local IDP website to find out everything beginners need to know about International Driving Permit and License or visit an IDP center. While the eligibility criteria might be slightly tweaked, the basics set by every issuance authority are:
- Needs to be of legal driving age
- Should have a valid license, not a learner’s permit
- Must have a good traffic record with few tickets and no outstanding fines
- Preferable to be an experienced driver
If you fit the requirements, only then can you move on to the next step. If you don’t meet the criteria and still apply for the IDP, your application will be rejected after a few steps. Also, the application fee you pay will go to waste.
2. Download the Form or Application
The form for the international driver’s permit is readily available on the AAA website. Anyone can go and download it from there. Some IDP providers also offer the option of filling the application online and submitting it directly. The application is free of charge. The form consists of basic information such as:
- Applicant’s name
- Applicant’s Date of Birth
- National identity card number
- Passport number
- Driver’s license details (date of issue, date of expiry, etc.)
- Contact details
- Citizenship information (domicile)
The requirement may vary depending on the IDP issuing authority and country it is being applied in. However, no fields should be left empty, or your application can get rejected.
3. Compile the Required Documents
Their application alone is of no use without the required documents. As per the instructions, the applicant is required to attach:
- Two passport-sized photographs (each signed on the back)
- Photocopy of the driver’s license (both sides)
- Photocopy of identification documents (passport, national identity card, etc.)
While these are the basic requirements, some additional documents may be required. It all depends on the laws of the country where the license is being applied in, and the issuing organization.
4. Submit the Application With the Fee
The completed international driver’s permit, along with the required documents and payment, needs to be submitted to the IDP office for processing. The fee for urgent applications is slightly higher than the fee or the standard processing fee. However, the charge can vary greatly depending on the country. In some places, it is as low as below $10. While in other countries, it can be anywhere from $20 to $65.
Some providers offer the option of online payment via credit card, while others even offer the convenience of sending a check with the documents and application through the mail. Submitting the form by mail requires the applicant to pay a sending and receiving fee to the courier service. If everything is fine with the application and all documents are verified, the IDP is ready to be sent or collected by the applicant, who can now peacefully drive on their trip.
If the applicant has a US driver’s license is out of the country, they can apply to the AAA or AATA by mail. The whole process could take from four to six weeks and addition $75 to $100 for shipping costs. The details of registering from abroad can be checked on each IDP provider’s website.
In most cases, the above mentioned steps are all that is required to apply for the international driver’s permit. However, some IDP providers have a few other requirements. In other words, there might be a few additional steps that need to be completed to secure the IDP.
5. Read & Memorize the Driving Rules
The extended process requires applicants to read, understand, and remember all the traffic rules and laws of the countries they are planning to visit, such as the speed limit. In some cases, they have to memorize the international traffic laws only that are common among countries and brush up on the specifics when they are planning to visit the respective country. This requirement is the same as when applying for a regular driver’s license.
6. Rules Differ in Different Regions
The traffic rules, laws, and etiquette of a country might vary from another. The regulations of countries in the European Union are generally similar. However, regardless of how brilliant a driver is or how well-versed they are in their local traffic laws, they need to study the traffic laws and etiquette of different regions. A simple example of varying traffic rules is why some countries drive on the left and others on the right. Some countries, especially former British colonies, require people to drive on the left side, while two-thirds of the world has right-handed drives.
7. Practice, Practice & Practice
Practice driving as much as possible to improve your driving skills. Not every country in the world has the same kinds of roads or traffic. According to Mr. Jayden White, who works as a Travel Editor for Academist Help, “Driving in some countries feels like a quest to survival where cars are moving bumper to bumper, motorcycles are swerving past cars, vehicles trying to maneuver their way from between oncoming traffic.” Therefore, practicing to drive, avoid accidents, and having full command over a car is necessary to train for driving around the world.
Seek help from a friend or family member who you know is a good driver. Take them on your practice sessions and ask them to be vocal and unbiased about your driving skills. Practice to perfect any issues they have pointed out, with and without them.
8. Get the Practical Test
Opt for a driving test to get a professional to judge your driving skills. A person who fails the practical test might get into trouble in a foreign country. The strictness of traffic laws and fines or punishments can be higher in some countries, so it is better to know where you stand and improve than get into trouble. However, the chances of frequent drivers failing this test are next to none. Nonetheless, if you do fail, enroll in a driving school to brush up on your skills.
Once all these steps have been completed successfully, the IDP will be generated for the applicant so you can be on your way to experiencing long-term travel realities.
Places that Accept an International Driving Permit
Around 175 countries across the globe accept the international driver’s permit as a substitute for a local driving license. Anyone who has not procured or is not carrying an IDP while driving in another country will be penalized as per the local law.
A few European countries like Italy require foreign drivers who are planning to rent-a-car to carry an official translation of their license unless their original license is issued in an EU country.
Carrying an international driver’s permit or an international driver’s license can save travelers a lot of hassle in foreign lands. Being allowed to drive is a massive perk since you are no longer dependent on anyone to drive you around, and you don’t have to pay hefty cab fares. Furthermore, if you are planning to backpack through Europe, you can take your own car or rent a caravan to go from city to city, country to country, exploring the beautiful landscape like a free bird. An IDP will help you enjoy backpacking in the rawest form.