International Driving Permit

Basic Guide to the International Driving Permit

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I’m going to start by sharing a short story when this single piece of paper almost single-handedly derailed our entire trip to Greece last summer. What is this piece of paper you might ask? An International Driving Permit, or IDP for short.

Greece 2018

We arrived on the island of Crete, jetlagged and drained from our previous week in Egypt. (Also excited to explore Greece as a newly ENGAGED couple)

The plan was to rent a one-way car, which was already pre-arranged. Then we were going to drive around the island, stopping at a bunch of beautiful landmarks before departing to Santorini via the port on the east side of the island. 

Eager to hit the open road, we arrived at the rental car desks with our passports in hand ready to roll. Everything was going according to plan, but then the customer service attendant asked for our International Driving Permits.

This resulted in one of those raised-eyebrow question mark plastered over my face reaction. 

She then exclaimed that “without an international driving permit you will not be able to rent a vehicle in Greece”.  If you want to see how that story ends you’ll find that and more in my driving in Greece article.

As you can see an International Driving Permit is VERY important and is not discussed all that much in the travel community! 

What exactly is an International Driving Permit?

An International Driving Permit is a translation of your driver’s license. It translates your identification information into 10 languages and is valid in 150 countries worldwide.  

How can you obtain an International Driving Permit?

It’s pretty easy to get your very own International Driving Permit! Follow the below directions to grab yours before your next trip!

Step 1: Locate the closest AAA 

Step 2: Show up with 2 passport photos

(You can get these done at Walmart for $7.44 + tax) 

Step 3: Complete the application in person or download it ahead of time off of the AAA website

Step 4: Pay the $20 fee (Credit Card points, yes please!) 

Step 5: Walk away with your shiny new International Driving Permit

When does the International Driving Permit Expire?

It’s very important to be aware that the International Driving Permit is only valid for one year. Because of this, be sure to renew if your dates are close to that 12-month mark or when you have a trip coming up!

What if I don’t plan on renting a car while traveling?

As we learned in Greece, an International Driving Permit is also required in order to rent ATV’s in Santorini and Mopeds in Mykonos. 

Besides green shells and bananas, you’ll also need an International Driving Permit for the very popular Japan Mario Kart Excursion! 

Side note from Lisa: When attempting to drive in a foreign country, do NOT show up with a wheelchair/crutch as they will not let you drive. We, unfortunately, learned this the hard way. Even though I was walking, they wouldn’t give in. Dave got to experience the thrill but my International Driving Permit goes unused.

Has anyone had any horror stories or basic travel wins related to International Driving Permits? I’d love to hear down below in the comments! 


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