According to AAA, IDPs are valid in more than 150 more countries and can be necessary if travelers plan to drive during their voyage, since many countries do not recognize the average U.S. Driver's License.
Mike Kelly, CEO of On Call International - a leading provider of travel, security and medical assistance, recommends carrying an IDP if travelers get behind the wheel while overseas.
For travelers unfamiliar with IDPs, make sure to read Kelly’s "need to knows":
• How to Locate: The U.S. Department of State recommends going to either the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the National Auto Club (NAC) to obtain an IDP. Depending on wait times, travelers can usually have their IDP in hand within 30 minutes. If travelers are unable to go to a local office, AAA and NAC offer mail-in options. Kelly notes that IDPs may not be issued more than six months in advance of desired usage date and are valid for one year. If travelers are already overseas, there is the option of mailing a completed application to the AAA/IDP address. It will take 4-6 weeks for return mail unless additional postage for express mail service is included with the application. “On Call can help you locate the nearest AAA or NAC as well to help you ensure you are prepared with all the correct documents, payment and processing timeframes,” Kelly says.
• Requirements: It is important to know the guidelines when applying for an IDP. To avoid any hassle, Kelly points out that applicants must be at least 18 years of age, present two passport-size photographs and a valid U.S. driver’s license. An IDP from AAA or NAC costs approximately $15 and can be paid by check, money order, or major credit card. While traveling, Kelly recommends keeping it in a safe place. “Sometimes it can be just as valuable as your passport. Should you run into any problems, On Call International provides assistance with lost/stolen travel documents among many other useful services to help travelers as soon as they encounter a problem.”
• Stay Prepared: In the event that travelers get pulled over, many countries require drivers to show their home country license as well as an IDP. Also, rental car companies may or may not require an IDP or even ask for one. “It is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure that he or she has the appropriate paperwork. If you’re lucky and don’t get stopped while driving in a foreign country, you won’t need to use the International Driving Permit, but in either case, it’s well worth the small fee to have peace of mind,” Kelly says.
For a list of countries that require an IDP, visit www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/idp-requirements-by-country.html.