It’s always been a good idea, but in speaking with AutoEurope last week, and they mentioned they’d received an official affirmation that International Drivers Permits are now a requirement. (You’ll hear the terms license and permit frequently used interchangeably, but a permit is what you’ll end up with). It is, in effect, a translation of your own driver’s license.
What does this mean? If you’re ready to board the plane and don’t have one, should you abort your trip, or drive in terror throughout it? It’s confusing, because you may never have to have an IDL/IDP to rent your car — but you never know. If by some chance you are stopped for any reason, or have an mishap and need the police, and don’t have your IDP, with this recent pronouncement you’ll be much more likely to incur a hefty fine.
You can get your permit at your AAA office for 2 original passport photos, a photocopy of your driver’s license, a downloadable application, and $10. Go to the site, type in your zip code, and enter “international drivers permit” for complete information:
(There are also instructions for applying from overseas.)
AutoEurope passed along these addresses, but they’re in conflict with the US Trade Commission’s statement that they and the AATA are the only U.S. organizations allowed to issue them (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alert/driveralrt.htm):
The cost from these sites is from about $22 – $55 plus tax, shipping and handling, and will depend on the length of validity. They can get it to you in 48 hours if you need it. Seems to be some discussion too, about the length of validity. AAA’s probably your best bet.
(Thanks to Slowtrav.com’s Slowtalk contributors and moderators for information and clarification: