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If individuals are traveling to an English-speaking country, they may be able to get by with their U.S. driver’s licenses. However, many other countries will ask that they also obtain an International Driver’s Permit, which is a document that translates the information on the home driver’s license into 11 different languages. More than 160 countries recognize the International Driver’s Permit. If individuals plan to rent a car on their trip abroad, they will probably be asked to present one along with their valid state license. Some countries require special road permits, instead of tolls, to use on their major roads. They will fine those found driving without such a permit.

An International Driver’s Permit must be issued in the home country. To obtain an International Driver’s Permit, individuals will need to produce two passport photos and their valid state driver’s licenses. Currently, an International Driver’s Permit costs $10 for a one-year issue. Individuals must complete an application, which can be printed online or submitted by mail. Only two agencies in the United States are authorized to issue these licenses: the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance. However, travelers should remember that an International Driver’s Permit is not a license in and of itself, so drivers can not establish a separate driving record with one. If drivers get a traffic citation while driving with their international driver’s permit, it will be reflected on their state licenses.

To apply for an international driving permit, individuals must:

  • Be at least age 18
  • Present two passport-size photographs
  • Present their valid U.S. licenses

In most cases, U.S. auto insurance will not cover drivers abroad; however, their policy may apply when they drive to Mexico or Canada. Even if their U.S. policy is valid in one of these countries, it may not meet the minimum requirements in Canada or Mexico. Individuals may check with the embassy or consulate of the country they plan to visit for specific insurance requirements. Overseas car rental agencies usually offer auto insurance for an additional fee, but in some countries, the required coverage is minimal. If drivers rent a cars overseas, they ought to consider purchasing insurance coverage that is equivalent to the amount of automobile insurance coverage that they carry at home.

Inside International