Getting Your International Driving Permit: Guide

by Lalithaa


If you want to drive your car while in a foreign country, you’ll need an international driving permit. That’s a document that you need to have with you in order to drive abroad. It’s only legitimate if you have a national permit with you as well.

The permit is an easy document to obtain since it’s based on the national license and if you have it you’ll easily get the international license as well. The document is also rather inexpensive and easy to renew when it expires.

How to Get an International Permit?

An international driving permit can easily be issued online. Use a portal such as Truely to find agencies issuing the permit. The portal offers a comprehensive review of such services and you can easily choose the reputable ones and ones that suit your needs.

The permit is issued based on your national license and there are small fees that you’ll need to pay for it to be produced. You’ll also need to provide photos similar to those used to make passports. It takes about a week to produce and send the permit.

The Requirements

There are no tests or medical examinations required to get an international driving permit. You’ll need to have a national permit already issued to your name (and to do so, you’ll need to pass those tests), including your driving test, which you can book through the driving test cancellation app. You can get an international permit if you’re over 18 years of age.

Some countries issue national permits if you’re under 18. However, even though you need both documents to drive legally – you won’t be able to get the international permit (or drive abroad) if you’re underage. This is true regardless of the laws of the country you’re going to.

A Permit Isn’t the Same as A License

The proper name of this document is an international driving permit. Sometimes it’s called a license since that’s the term for the document issued by your own country. However, this isn’t the official term, and if you see someone trying to sell you a “license” chances are that it’s a fraud of some kind.

There are such frauds online and it’s important to stick to reliable sources and institutions in order to get the proper documentation and be able to travel and drive safely and legally. If an offer seems to be too inexpensive chances are that, there’s something wrong with the documents as well.

What the Permit Can Be Used for?

The permit can be used to drive in a foreign country and in some cases it’s necessary to rent a car while abroad as well. That’s its only purpose and the document can’t be used as a form of ID. If a foreign authority asks you for an ID you’ll need to produce another document, most likely a passport.

The permit itself is only legit if you’re able to produce a national license alongside it. It won’t be valid if the national license has expired.

Which Countries Recognize the Permit?

The permit is a product of an international agreement made in 1949. Over the years other countries have joined in and now the permit is recognized by 150 countries across the world. There are a few noticeable exceptions, however. These are sometimes covered by bilateral treaties.

For instance, Brazil doesn’t recognize the permit, but it does recognize a special permit of American countries. Russia allows US citizens to drive using their own national license for a year. China doesn’t recognize an international permit at all and you need to obtain a tourist license to drive while visiting China.

What Happens When You Don’t Have the Permit with You?

A driving permit is needed to drive abroad. If you’re caught without one you can get a fine and the amount you’ll have to pay depends on your circumstances and the country you’re in.

In some countries, you may not be allowed to drive until you obtain the proper documents and your vehicle may be confiscated as well. Japan has the harshest rules when it comes to international permits. They may even deport you if you’re caught without a permit.

Age Restrictions

There are also age restrictions when it comes to who can drive with an international permit. You can drive with such a permit if you’re over 18 years old. Some countries issue national driving licenses to drivers younger than that. However, they won’t be able to drive abroad.

It’s important to note that car insurance companies also impose some age restrictions. It’s common in some countries to charge more for insurance to a young driver (under 25) or to drivers who have just recently obtained a license regardless of age. These can be reduced if a driver is accompanied by someone with more driving experience.

When Does the Permit Expire?

There are two types of international driving permits. One of them expires after a year and the other after 3 years. Only Germany and Bosnia Herzegovina require you to have a permit that expires after 3 years. It’s important to note that if your national driving license expires your international permit won’t be valid either.

National driving permits usually last for 5 years and chances are that they will last longer than your international permit. However, it’s important to check that when obtaining a permit in order to renew the national license on time.

A Few Tips

You’ll do well to follow the local rules and regulations when driving abroad. It’s also useful to be extra careful since you’re driving on roads you don’t know well and with driving habits, you’re not familiar with. A traffic issue can ruin your trip or at least delay it, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

If you’re stopped by the local authorities, it’s important to remain respectful and to follow the instructions they provide you with. That can even help you get out of trouble in case you’re caught breaking a traffic rule of some sort. It’s also useful, to be honest about a mistake you’ve made if you’ve made one.

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