Driving on your own is the best way to take a trip abroad. It gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to create your own schedule. In order to do so, you’ll need an international driving permit, required to legally drive in a foreign country.
This is a document that can be procured relatively easily and it costs much less than other documents needed for international travel. There are also numerous other benefits of having a permit that will make your trip easier and more comfortable.
How to Get the Permit?
The permit is issued by the international drivers association and it’s based on having a national permit in the first place. There are no tests or driving exams involved and if you have a valid driving license and pay a small fee you can get the international permit as well.
It usually takes a week for the permit to arrive at your address. You’ll also need to provide two photos similar to those used to make passports and to fill out a simple form. All of this can be done online and repeated when it comes the time to renew the permit.
Use The Permit to Rent a Car
You can’t rent a car abroad without an international driving permit. It proves that you’re legally allowed to drive and that you’ve passed the proper tests. You’ll also need to provide a national permit and some sort of ID – most likely a passport.
This document doesn’t deal with car insurance at all and you’ll need to provide it separately as well as keep the documents that prove that the car is insured. The details are usually arranged by the rent-a-car agency, but it’s up to you to produce the proof once you’re pulled over.
Having a Permit is Obligatory
You’re obligated by law to have an international permit with you and to produce it when the authorities ask for it. There are fines for those who fail to do so and the best and simplest way to avoid this issue is to always keep the permit with you.
In some countries, the consequences can be even more severe. If you fail to provide the permit you may even get your vehicle impounded and in some rather rare cases, foreigners can be deported for not having the proper documents.
The Permit is valid for a Long Time
Once you get issued an international driving permit it remains valid for a year. Once the year expires you can easily renew the permit online just as you’ve obtained it in the first place. This is enough to cover the length of most tourist or business trips.
However, you should keep in mind that the permit is only valid if the national driving license is as well. It usually lasts longer than the international permit – for about five years. It can’t be renewed while abroad so you need to make sure that both documents are valid during your trip.
You Can Travel Almost Everywhere
About 150 countries all over the world accept the international permit as a valid document. This covers most countries that are tourist destinations and it will cover your needs for a long trip across borders, with a few notable exceptions.
For instance, Brazil doesn’t accept an international driving permit, but it does accept an intra-American driving permit instead. China doesn’t accept any international permits but it does issue special permits for tourists that are easy enough to get. Most countries, however, have a limit as to how you can drive with an international permit.
The Permit Isn’t an ID
It’s important to note, however, that if the rules require you to show an ID, you can’t use an international permit. Instead, you’ll need to use one of the documents that are accepted as such – in most countries that will be a passport. Some countries, however, accept national IDs as proof of identification based on a bilateral agreement. It’s best to check if that’s the case for your country before taking a trip.
The permit itself will also not be valid if you don’t have proof of identification with you. It needs to be produced together with the permit and a national license.
Make sure you have the proper documents with you before the trip and that you’re aware of the local traffic laws and regulations. It will make your trip easier and more comfortable by revealing you of stress and allowing you to focus on the journey.