An international driving permit is a document that is used to allow you to drive while abroad. It’s a simple document to obtain and it’s also quite inexpensive compared to others needed for international travel.
Before planning your trip, it’s best to inquire about the local rules and regulations and the documents you need to have with you since the permit won’t be valid everywhere. It does, however, cover most of the world. There are a few exceptions and a few countries that allow citizens from neighboring countries to drive with their own national permits.
How Many Countries Recognize the Document?
The international driving permits, issued by the International Drivers Association, are recognized by 150 countries covering every continent. The document came to be as a result of an international agreement created after World War Two. Other, and newly founded countries have joined in and the same document is used in every country that does.
As international travel becomes more common and as more tourists are traveling in their own car – using a permit has become a norm as well. Most rental agencies also require you to have a permit to rent a car while abroad as well.
How Long Permit Can Be Used?
The permit is issued based on a national permit and you need to have both of these documents with you, in order to drive abroad. The international document is valid for a year, after which you can renew it, even if you’re in a foreign country.
A national permit is valid for five years. It too can be renewed afterward, but not all countries allow you to do so online, meaning that you may not be able to renew it when traveling.
An Intra-American Permit
An Intra-American permit is a document similar to the international permit, but it can only be used by citizens of countries on the American continents. Many of these countries also recognize the international permit and you can use either of these when visiting them.
Brazil is an interesting exception since it’s the only country that accepts only an Intra-American permit. That means that you can drive from the US to Brazil using this permit, but those who visit Brazil from Europe need to obtain a local permit in order to drive.
Traveling to China with Your Own Vehicle
China is one of the few countries that doesn’t recognize international permits at all. If you plan to drive while visiting China, you’ll need to get a local permit. There are special permits issued to foreign tourists that you can easily obtain without the tests that are required for Chinese citizens,
This permit is valid for six years and in order to obtain it, you’ll need to show your national permit and take a written exam. The process is handled by the local traffic police and if you’re an experienced driver it shouldn’t be more than a formality.
Traveling with Your Own National Permit
Some countries allow foreigners to travel with a national permit issued by their own country. This is usually a sign of friendly relations between the two countries and it’s arranged when such travel is commonplace. For instance, the US has such an arrangement with both Canada and Mexico.
What Languages Are Used on the Permit?
Since the permit is a document used around the world, it’s produced in a few languages, chosen to cover the needs of most travelers. The nine languages used are: English, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, German, Spanish, and French. All of the basic information found on your national permit is translated into these languages.
It’s also possible to translate the document into other languages, by using the services of a translator that is licensed to do so. For the most part, there’s no need to do since the permit is recognized as it is, but chances are that the local traffic authorities won’t speak one of the languages.
An international driving permit can be used to travel and rent vehicles in most of the world. Some quite large and important countries are the exception, so make sure you make your plans accordingly and always travel with the proper, and legal documents.