Because I wasn’t exactly clear on the function of the International Driving Permit, I was unsure of whether or not I needed to have one when we head to Italy.

What is an International Driving Permit/License?

Interntaional Driving PermitIt is a booklet that translates the type of American license you hold (ie. motorcycle, car, bus etc. ) into 10 different languages. It is to be carried along with your American license. Inside, it contains your name and birth date information, a passport-sized photo of you and your signature. Your IDP  is valid for 1 year.

An IDP does not give you “permission” to drive abroad. Your own United States license does this. It simply helps whomever needs to see your US license understand just what it is they are looking at and the type of vehicle you are permitted to operate.

Many European car or motorcycle rental outfits will require that you have an IDP in order to use their services.

Where do you get an International Driving Permit?

There are 2 associations to get an IDP from: American Automobile Association and The National Automobile Club.

I was able to walk in to my local AAA office and get an IDP on the spot. It was $15 plus a nominal fee for them to take 2 passport photos. The whole process took less than 15 minutes. If you do not have a local AAA office, you can order your IDP via mail, as well.

The Verdict

Do you “need” an International Driving Permit? You might be able to get by without it, but for less than $20 why take the risk and open yourself up to unnecessary hassle? Get one.

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