From Local Roads to International Highways: The Importance of an International Driver’s Permit

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Explore the importance of an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) for global travelers. Learn about its application process, eligibility criteria, and how it facilitates legal driving abroad. Get ready for your next international journey with the right documentation.

IDP makes driving around the globe a lot easier for foreign travellers
Advantages, eligibility and the process of obtaining an International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

Being a frequent solo traveller, I have travelled around the world and used different transport modes. While I enjoy using public transport or trying more adventure activities like hiking or biking, driving is my most preferred means of transport because it gives wind beneath my freedom to go off the beaten track and take as many stops on the way as I wish to discover local hotspots and holes-in-the-wall that are neither covered in travel guides nor pinned on Google maps. This freedom is invaluable as a photographer, as some of my most stunning pictures have been captured in unexpected moments and places. Moreover, driving in a foreign land makes me feel more connected with that destination. I can dive deep into different cultures and see the world’s beauty from new perspectives at my own pace. While I’ve driven all around the globe – mastering both left-hand and right-hand drive, I discovered another layer of freedom- driving in a foreign land during my thrilling drive along the famous Pacific Coast Highway in California.

Exploring the Central Coast of California through a road trip in the USA
Exploring the Central Coast of California through a road trip in the USA

Driving liberates me from the shackles of following a regimented schedule! Nevertheless, freedom can only be tasted with legal papers. In some countries, your local driving license can work with you. However, it is always wise to have an International Driver’s Permit. Today, in this post, I will share all the information you need to get an International Driver’s Permit. 

What’s an International Driver’s Permit? 

The International Driving License, officially known as the International Driver’s Permit (IDP), is a document authorised by the United Nations and issued to people travelling to foreign countries. It certifies the holder has a valid driving license in their home country. IDP is an official document that translates your native driver’s license into a format that foreign authorities and car rental agencies can understand. While having a driver’s license in English (like those issued in India or the Philippines) can be sufficient for driving in the US or the UK, it’s essential to consider the legal requirements when driving in a foreign country. For example, while you can initially drive in Europe with an Indian driver’s license for six months, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is necessary for driving anywhere in Europe. It allows you to legally drive the vehicles listed in your IDP in foreign nations. The translation provided by an IDP is essential for ensuring compliance with local regulations.

What's an International Driver's Permit and why do you need it?
What’s an International Driver’s Permit and why do you need it?

Translation of your license becomes exceptionally crucial when you have a driver’s license in your native language (apart from English) and are travelling to another country with a totally different language. 

The International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is accepted in more than 150 countries worldwide, including popular destinations like Greece, Thailand, and Spain. It is available in various languages to ensure that your driving credentials are easily understood and recognised no matter where you go. If you are planning a trip to the USA or Europe, it is advisable to obtain an IDP. This permit contains essential identification information such as your name, photo, and driver details, all translated into multiple languages. This not only aids in communication with local authorities but also streamlines the process of renting vehicles in foreign countries. It is important to remember that the IDP is not a replacement for your national driver’s license but is meant to supplement it. Therefore, you will still need to carry your original license while travelling. So, you’ll still have to bring your original license with you and show the translated document when required. 

Why do You Need an IDP?

An IDP opens up many opportunities to go around locally and offers peace of mind while exploring new places. Here’s why getting an IDP is a smart move for any traveller: 

Helps in Communication 

The IDP is translated into multiple languages, which is helpful if you need to show your driving license to local authorities. It protects you from misunderstandings, which is helpful in a country where your native language isn’t widely spoken. 

This goes both ways. If you have a non-English driver’s license, you can have it translated into English to embark on a California road trip across the state’s central coast. 

Acts as an Additional Form of ID 

An IDP also serves as a form of identification. If you need to show who you are, an IDP can be valid. It has your photo and personal information, which can help in various situations, like checking into hotels or dealing with authorities. If you stay in a city for a longer time, you don’t need to carry your passport everywhere you go. You can leave it behind in your hotel unless it’s specifically asked for an activity you are partaking in.

Simplifies Car Rentals 

With an IDP, you hold the key to a smooth car rental experience in your hands. Many car rental companies worldwide require an IDP before they hand over the keys to their vehicles. By having this document, you’re not only proving your legal driving status but also taking control of your travel plans, making them more flexible and convenient. 

Check out this USA driving guide to learn more about renting cars in Uncle Sam’s land.

Offers Peace of Mind 

Knowing you have an IDP gives you peace of mind. Without it, you could face serious legal issues if local authorities stop you. This could lead to fines, vehicle impoundment, or even being barred from driving in the country. Having an IDP allows you to focus on enjoying your travels instead of stressing about these potential problems. 

Helps in getting Insurance

Driving abroad without Insurance can be very lethal for your wallet in case of an accident. An IDP is a must to get Insurance. Insurance companies require an IDP to cover drivers driving motor vehicles abroad.

IDP provides peace of mind to international travellers when it comes to getting car rentals or insurance
IDP provides peace of mind to international travellers when it comes to getting car rentals or insurance

How can I get International Driving Permit in India?

If you are Indian, you can apply for an IDP on the Ministry of Road Transport And Highways website or get permission directly from your respective RTO.

  • Step 1: Fill out the following forms:
    • Form 4A – Certificate that an individual is a competence rider
    • Form 1A – A form of medical fitness for the rider
  • Step 2: Provide details of driving license, identity and residential proof.
  • Step 3: Submit all the necessary documents with the forms.
  • Step 4: Take the driving test.
  • Step 5: Make a payment of ₹ 1,000 at the time of document submission.

Follow these simple steps to get your International Driving License (IDL) without hiccups. Your IDL will be dispatched to you in just 4 to 5 business days, ensuring a successful outcome.

The online application process has made it easier for everyone to apply for an IDL. However, if you prefer to apply offline, you can visit your Regional Transport Office (RTO), complete the necessary forms, pay the fees, and provide the required documents. The RTO will then translate your license into an international one.

Eligibility Criteria for Applying for an International Driving Permit

Certain conditions must be met in order to acquire an International Driving Permit. These conditions include being at least 18 years old, having a valid driving license from your country, and possessing a valid passport and visa.

What are the requirements for obtaining an International Driving Permit in India?

How can I get international driving permit in India?
How can I get international driving permit in India?

If you wish to apply for an international driving permit (IDP) in India, you’ll require the following documents:

  • Forms 4A and 1A
  • Valid driver’s license copy
  • Copy of passport and visa
  • Duplicate air tickets for verification
  • Passport-size photographs as required
  • Certified proof of Indian citizenship
  • Copy of address proof
  • Copy of age-proof
  • Application fee of ₹ 1,000

The Open Road Awaits 

Advantages, eligibility and the process of obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP)
IDP makes driving around the globe a lot easier for foreign travellers

Now that you know the importance of getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) and how to procure it, it’s time to head out from the quiet streets of your hometown to the big roads around the world. It’s not just any document; it’s your key to freedom, adventure, and memories that last forever. 

Whenever I plan to go on a road trip across the globe, I always get an IDP. I suggest you do the same for your next trip. The world is huge, and there’s so much to see and do—one drive at a time. 

Further Reading

If you are into road trips like me, do have a look at some of these road trips in India, USA, Europe and Asia:

An Epic 10-day Iceland Roadtrip through spectacular landscapes

Looking for a road trip off the beaten path in the USA? Visit California’s Central Coast.

5 Best Northern California Road Trips to bolster your soul

7 Best short road trips from NYC

Things to do in Czech Republic: Take a road trip to 5 fantastic offbeat destinations

Why Should You Go on a Road Trip to Meghalaya in India?

TSW Trips – Exclusive sustainable road trips to Leh Ladakh

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15 Comments

  • Beth says:

    This sounds like a must if you’re planning a trip to Europe, especially if you plan to visit multiple countries. I had no idea International Drivers Permits were even a thing!

  • Maureen says:

    What a great post! Sometimes when we think of traveling we forget about what we need to look into. An international driver’s permit is definitely essential specially if you want to travel by car. When we had to travel to Europe years ago, I didn’t think we would need one. I am glad my husband is smarter than me and got one anyway.

    Maureen

  • Richard Lowe says:

    I never knew this existed. I’ll never leave the country. but it’s obvious this will be valuable for those who do.

  • Catherine Kay says:

    This is important information for anyone needing to drive internationally. Thanks for sharing!

  • Debbie says:

    Very interesting! I had no idea an International Driver’s Permit was a thing. It sounds perfect for travelers.

  • Emily says:

    I’ll be moving to Italy for 13 months this summer, and I definitely need to get my international driver’s license!

  • Michelle says:

    Having your international driver’s liscence is such a good idea to have when travelling abroad. You never know if you might need it, especially for longer durations!

  • Kimberley Asante says:

    The article on “Travel See Write” explains the importance of obtaining an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) for driving legally while abroad. It covers the application process, eligibility criteria, and the advantages of having an IDP, such as simplifying car rentals and acting as an additional form of identification. This guide is particularly useful for travelers planning to drive in foreign countries, ensuring they comply with local driving laws and avoid potential issues.

  • Marysa says:

    We have driven in a couple countries, and it is definitely a different experience. It makes sense to get an international driver’s permit if you are going to be traveling a lot.

  • Nikki Wayne says:

    It is important to have international driver’s license. Because it will give you the best experience when you are traveling abroad especially if you want to drive there and feel local people in a specific country.

  • Olga says:

    We go to Europe for two weeks this summer and I’m very excited! I`ll ask my husband if he has international driver permit.

  • SONIA SEIVWRIGHT says:

    It’s great to hear that driving is your preferred mode of transport while travelling solo. The freedom to explore a new destination at your own pace and discover hidden gems is truly invaluable. And thanks for sharing the detailed information about the International Driver’s Permit; it’s definitely a useful document to have while travelling abroad.

  • Melanie E says:

    I’ve not driven abroad for years. I am sure that an International Drivers Licence would be very useful for anyone looking to drive to or in another country for/during a holiday.

  • Melanie E says:

    I’ve not driven abroad for years. It sounds like an International Drivers Licence would be very useful for anyone looking to drive to or in another country for/during a holiday.

  • Melanie williams says:

    This shows how much I did not know I didn’t even think that and IDP existed, but noted the International Drivers Permit for future travels x

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