Travel Tips

International Driving Permits

Travel Tips

Before you travel the world, pick up your International Driving Permit (IDP), even if you do not plan to drive abroad. An IDP contains your name, photo, and driver information translated in ten different languages, and is recognized in more than 150 countries. Should you need to communicate with foreign authorities, this internationally recognizable form of identification can help break down language barriers when traveling in non-English speaking countries. 

Do I need an IDP in order to drive in foreign countries?

Some countries do not recognize a drivers license from the U.S., but they officially recognize an IDP (e.g. Hungary). Other countries honor a U.S. drivers license, but require a local language translation (e.g. Spain). The IDP satisfies both situations. However, although a country's government may not require an IDP, car rental companies in that country, such as Hertz, may require an IDP. Obtaining an IDP prior to departure can prevent potential hassles.

How do I Get an IDP?

To secure an IDP, all you need is:

  • A completed IDP application (also available at AAA stores)
  • A photocopy of both sides of your valid U.S. driver's license
  • A check or money order for $23.95 ($20 permit fee, $1.95 tax and $2 for domestic mailing)
  • Two (2) original passport-style photos (also available at AAA stores) with your signature on the back

Then, visit your nearest AAA store and receive your IDP while you wait, or mail the completed items to the following address:

AAA/IDP – Auto Travel
1523 15th Ave. West
Seattle, WA 98119

If you are currently overseas, mail your completed application to the above address. Please include $21.95 ($20 permit fee and $1.95 tax). We require a overnight service such as FedEx or UPS; include one of these carriers' pre-paid mailers as a self-addressed return envelope.

Can a foreign national visting the U.S. obtain an IDP from AAA?

An IDP must be issued in the same country that issued the drivers license. Therefore, if someone has a U.K. drivers license, their IDP must also be issued in the U.K.

I have a U.S. drivers license, but I am a citizen of another country. Where do I get my IDP?

The IDP must be issued in the same country that issued the drivers license. If your drivers license is issued in the U.S., the IDP must also be issued in the U.S. Contact your nearest AAA store

My drivers license is from a U.S. territory (Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands); where do I get my IDP?

If your drivers license has been issued by a U.S. possession, your IDP should be issued in the U.S. Contact your nearest AAA store in the U.S., and the IDP can be mailed to them.

Hong Kong has been transferred from Great Britain to China; do I need an IDP to drive in Hong Kong?

The United Nations has notified the U.S. State Department that the treaty which applies to Hong Kong, at present, will continue to apply to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the name given to the territory by China. This notification should not be construed to mean that China now recognizes IDPs; the People's Republic of China is not a party to the treaty.

What happens if I receive a traffic citation when using my IDP?

The IDP holds no powers of its own; the IDP is valid only when carried in conjunction with a drivers license. Therefore, there is no separate driving record with an IDP. If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer when traveling in a foreign country, give the officer your U.S. drivers license and the IDP. If you receive a citation, it will be reflected on the driving record associated with your drivers license.