International Driving Permit

I've never driven a car abroad. Wait, that's not true; I rented a car in Providenciales. Okay, so other than that one time, I've never driven a car abroad because I never had to and up until 2 years ago, I wasn't over the age of 25 so it was a huge bother (and it was expensive) to rent a car. I've always visited major cities with great public transportation systems so a car was never necessary anyway. However, for this trip to France, we're renting a car for one day so we can drive out to Annecy because it's more economical for four of us to hop in a car than it is to book four round trip train tickets. As I am the only member of our party that is comfortable driving a car with a manual transmission (my current vehicle is stick), it's up to me to (wo)man the wheel.

I've been reading mixed responses here and there in regard to whether or not an International Driving Permit (IDP) is 100% necessary in France but to be on the safe side, I popped over to the closest AAA location to get myself permitted. I checked the list of countries that honor the IDP and France was on there, so I think that technically (re: legally), I need one.
For those of you who don't know, an IDP is just a translation of your driver's license. So, when you're abroad in a country that speaks a different language, you've got a piece of identification and proof that you're allowed to drive that you can present to LEOs, car rental companies, etc. that they'll understand. Obviously, you've got to have a valid driver's license in your country of residence to get an IDP and it doesn't replace your license. If you were to get pulled over (God forbid), you'd likely have to present both your valid driver's license and your IDP.
It's only $15 for a little peace of mind. I figure it's better to spend a bit of money and get the gosh darn thing than to show up to the rental car agency and have them say, "Oh no, we can't rent you a car without an IDP. Sorry!"
I went directly to my local AAA location (I checked to make sure they could get me an IDP) and the whole process took maybe ten minutes. I got my passport photo taken right there and signed the back. The lady clipped them out, checked my driver's license, filled out my IDP, stuck on my photo, and that was that.

The booklet itself is slightly larger than a passport and each page must be stamped to validate the permit.
Here are some useful facts:
  • The IDP expires one year from the date it's "issued." When you fill out your application, you write down your departure date and they'll fill in the IDP for that day, which is nice because then you've got a full year from that day, instead of the actual day you went and filed for the permit.
  • If you live in the U.S., you can apply through either AAA or the NAC. Beware of scams! Apply through only those two agencies. Anyone else who promises you an IDP is lying.
  • For your application, you need two signed passport photos and your driver's license. If you're mailing your application, you must photocopy both sides of your license.
  • You must apply for your IDP in your country of residence (where your driver's license was issued).
  • You must be 18 or older to apply for an IDP.
  • If necessary, you can apply for an IDP overseas; you'd just need to mail in the application and wait for them to mail the permit back.
Tomorrow's the big day, people! I'm headin' off on holiday. YAY!

If you have any other questions about IDPs that you can't seem to find on the web, ask in the comments; maybe I can help you out. Drive safe, everyone!


  1. Love your blog <3

    IDP in my country have grey cover and i thought that all IDPs should have that colour. Or maybe it's grey but i can't see it on picture? Because yours seems all white.

    1. Mine is all white, you're right. Where do you live? I think grey would be cuter!


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