International Drivers License

BY Beth Williams

An international drivers license is a must if you intend to drive overseas, check with the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their driver’s license, road permit, and auto insurance requirements. If possible, obtain road maps before you go or make sure your gps or gps app is updated to support your travel destination. Car rental agencies often have gps units for rent for an additional fee if you don’t plan on using your phone.

Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driver’s license. Most, however, accept an international driver’s permit. Before departure, obtain one at a local office of an automobile association. You must be at least age 18, and you will need two passport-size photographs and your valid U.S. license. Certain countries require road permits instead of tolls to use their divided highways and will fine drivers without a permit.

It is also important for you to be aware that if you lose your wallet and driver’s license, many countries will not allow you to drive.

International Drivers Permit (IDP)

The best and easiest place to obtain an International Drivers Permit (IDP) is from your local AAA club office. You will have to pay a fee, but it is usually less than $30.00.

When driving you must carry your regular driver’s license and well as your IDP license.

Make sure you read up on the driving rules of the country you are visiting, as many times they will be different than here at home.

Some countries have a minimum and maximum driving age. Check the laws before you drive in any country.

Should you buy collision-damage coverage when your credit card provides it?

The insurance that car-rental companies offer overseas can be very expensive, sometimes it can be more that $20 additional or more per day. Most of the time your personal auto insurance will not cover a loss so you may have to obtain the additional insurance.   Remember you are a visitor to a foreign country and becoming involved in an accident is not the time to wonder if you have proper coverage.

When I am traveling internationally, in a place unfamiliar laws and languages,  I buy the insurance. But ask first whether the coverage is for all damages or only some. Some international car rental insurance covers only damages above a certain dollar amount so make sure to check the fine print.