Written by Andrei Zakhareuski. With over 16 years of expertise, Andrei leads Driving-Tests.org, a top online resource for driver education. His leadership has established vital partnerships with over 2,600 libraries, educational bodies, and state agencies.

Planning to drive overseas? An International Driving Permit (IDP) is your key to driving legally in 174 countries alongside your valid U.S. driver’s license. Essential for car rentals abroad, the IDP translates your license into multiple languages and confirms your eligibility to drive on international roads. This guide simplifies the IDP application process, ensuring you’re road-ready for your global adventures. A person driving abroad in a rental vehicle

What is an International Driver’s License?

An international driver’s license (the correct term is “international driving permit”, or IDP) is a document that contains your name, photo and driver information and allows you to drive a motor vehicle legally in 174 countries when it is accompanied by your valid US driver’s license. Many car rental companies abroad require an IDP along with your national driver’s license to rent a vehicle.

Many people have seen sales pitches for “international driver’s licenses” that claim these licenses can do all kinds of things such as act as a driver’s license, act as a means of identification, or hide your identity. None of this is true. International driver’s licenses do not exist. There are only international driving permits (IDPs).

Here’s everything you need to know about this helpful document that will allow you to get behind the wheel on your perfect business trip or vacation.

Age Minimum18 years old
License ValidityMust have a valid U.S. driver’s license
Application MethodIn-person or by mail
Necessary DocumentsIDP application form, two passport photos, photocopy of driver’s license
Application Fee$20
Where to ApplyAAA branch
Receiving the IDPImmediately in-person or by mail

5 Steps to Obtain an International Driver’s Permit for your U.S. Driver’s License


Determine Eligibility

You must be a permanent US resident at least 18 years old and have a US driver’s license that will remain valid for the next six months.


Choose Application Method

Decide between applying in-person or by mail. We recommend in-person application for faster processing.

In the United States, the only organization that issues international driver’s licenses (permits) is the American Automobile Association (AAA). (You don’t have to be their member.) The US State Department specifically advises drivers to obtain their international driver’s licenses from AAA. The US Federal Trade Commission has warned that any other organization offering IDP services is likely running a scam.


Gather Required Documents

Complete the IDP application form, provide two original passport-size photos with your signature oth the back, a photocopy of your valid U.S. driver’s license, and the $20 fee (plus and applicable state taxes.)


Submit Application and Fee

Pay the $20 fee and submit your application either at a AAA branch (in-person) or mail it to AAA (by mail). Find your local AAA office here. If abroad, mail your application to the AAA office in the U.S. with all required documents and fee. Expect longer processing and delivery times.


Receive Your IDP

Collect your IDP immediately at an AAA branch or wait for it to arrive by mail (may take 10-15 business days.) An IDP is usually valid for one year from the date of issue, and it cannot be post-dated, extended, or renewed.

IDP logo

Frequently Asked Questions

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