Not many people probably think about driving outside the United States if you do not travel much. It is hard enough for some to get a driver's license, insurance, and a vehicle, so thinking about going international might be out of reach. However, for those who do travel outside the United States it is important to get an American Automobile Association (AAA) International Driving Permit (IDP). The AAA International Driving Permit is valid in over 150 countries. Although the AAA International Driving Permit sounds like permission to drive outside the United States, it is actually just an interpretation of your U.S. driver's license. The IDP is translated into 10 different languages, so it is a very important part of your travel documents, and a requirement for driving abroad when you travel. Having your International Driving Permit is necessary for travel.
How to Get a AAA International Driving Permit:
To get an International Driving Permit for travel outside the United States you will want to check in with your local AAA office or online at AAA.com. Although it is possible to send for the AAA International Driving Permit from abroad, it is much wiser to get it before you go outside of the U.S. Some countries require more than just your AAA International Driving Permit, so it is wise to check this list to see if you need more documentation or will be okay with your IDP and driver's license. You can check this list at http://www.aaawa.com/travel/tips_info/IDP/idp_list_countries.asp.
You only need the following in order to get your AAA International Driving Permit for travel outside the United States: two passport style photos (can be taken in the AAA office), $15 application fee plus tax, a valid U.S. driver's license, and a completed application that you can get in the office or download from the AAA website. The IDP is good for one year and you must be over 18 to get one.
The in office process is really simple. Having a AAA International Driving Permit is a good idea if even if do not plan to drive. Your driver's license information is translated onto the IDP, so if anything were to happen and you need to speak to the police, etc., then you have your pertinent information in a readily available form. It can definitely save time and confusion.
AAA International Driving Permit Tip:
Before you are going to drive abroad it is important to learn the rules of the road in the country you are going to drive in. For example, driving in Spain or Portugal you will notice that you can drive 120, but it is not miles per hour! In many countries like this they use roundabouts and other traffic controls, so do not assume you will know the rules. Take a quick look at the driving laws in your destination. Having a AAA International Driving Permit does not give you anything other than the permit. You do not get driving tips or help when you go to AAA for you IDP. Remember to always learn the basics of driving abroad and what countries are different from the U.S.
The AAA International Driving Permit for travel outside of the U.S. is not a driving permit for inside of the U.S. The IDP has nothing to do with an aptitude for driving. It is merely a translation of your driver's license, so it will not serve as valid documentation for driving in the U.S.
Avoid International Driving Permit Scams:
There is an International Driving Permit "scam" that is out there. You will see many sites that try to sell international driver's license and other driving permits. There are only two that are legal and they are both offered through auto clubs, either the AAA International Driving Permit (IDP) or through the National Auto Club. The AAA International Driving Permit and the one through the National Auto Club are the only two places. If you are trying to find out more information on the International Driving Permit then look around for AAA.