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The International Driving Permit Explained

March 30, 2014

If you plan to travel abroad and expect to drive, you’ll probably need an International Driving Permit (IDP) or international driver’s document. Even if you don’t plan to drive, this document can come in handy. Here’s what you need to know.


What is it?

The international driver’s permit is not a government-issued driver’s license, nor does it replace the government-issued document. An IDP is an officially-recognized translation of your driver’s license.

Do I need to carry both?

When you travel in a country that requires the IDP, you’ll need to have both your official driver’s license and your IDP. You’ll likely need to present both in specific countries where the IDP is required.

Where is the IDP required?

According to AA, an insurance, breakdown and travel organization in the United Kingdom, the IDP is required in more than 100 different countries. Those countries include but are not limited to:

  • Brazil

  • Burundi

  • Iraq

  • Somalia

  • Afghanistan

  • Albania

  • Algeria

  • Angola

  • Argentina

  • Australia

  • Bahamas

  • Bahrain

  • Bangladesh

  • Belarus

  • Bosnia

  • Cambodia (Kampuchea)

  • Cameroon

  • Canada

  • Cayman Islands  

  • Chile

  • Congo (Democratic Republic of)

  • Congo (Republic of)

  • Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

  • Djibouti  

  • Dominica

  • Ecuador

  • Egypt

 

Types of IDPs

There are three versions of the IDP – updates from 1926, 1949 and 1968. Each define the classes of vehicles that foreigners must have an IDP to drive.

The IDP 1926 includes these vehicle categories:

  • Vehicles which have a loaded weight of less than 3,500 kg.

  • Vehicles which have a loaded weight of more than 3,500 kg.

  • Motorcycles(with or without sidecars)

The IDP 1949 includes these categories:

  • Motorcycles (with or without sidecars), invalid carriages, and three-wheeled vehicles with unloaded weight of less than 400 kg.

  • Motor vehicles with eight seats (plus the driver’s seat) or those used to transport goods with loaded weight less than 3,500 kg.

  • Vehicles that transport goods with a loaded weight of more than 3,500 kg.

  • Motor vehicles used in the transportation of passengers and comprised of more than eight seats (not including the driver’s seat) weighing more than 3,500 kg.

  • Motor vehicles in any of the above categories when coupled with a trailer.

The IDP 1968 also gives five categories:

  • Motorcycles

  • Motor vehicles (except for motorcycles) with less than eight passenger seats and a loaded weight of less than 3,500 kg.

  • Motor vehicles used for the transport of goods and of which the permissible maximum weight exceeds 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs). Vehicles in this category may be coupled with a light trailer.

  • Motor vehicles to transport passengers with more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat, and these vehicles hooked up to a light trailer.

  • Vehicles in categories B, C or D with other than a light trailer.

How do I get an IDP?

Fill out an application, available from AAA or USA.gov, and take the application, two passport photos (each signed on the back), your official driver’s license and a $15 fee to any AAA office. You may also mail in your application. There is a processing time of 4-6 weeks.

Travelers should be advised that this document can be helpful in more than just driving situations. Some organizations report that this form of identification can help in other situations where you might deal with foreign officials or police officers.

The International Driving Permit can make your trip a lot easier. Start planning your next getaway with Trekeffect!

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Maria Tugayeva
Mariya is a Marketing guru and writer, with a world experience from living and growing up in different countries. Her work quote is: "In a word: pleasure. It's like, my pleasure in other people's leisure." -Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Trainspotting
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