Obtaining a European driver's license requires citizenship. Fortunately, travellers 18 years of age and older -- with a valid U.S. driver's license -- may apply for an International Driving Permit. An I.D.P. translates your license information into 10 languages: Most countries accept it as a valid substitute for a European driver's license. While websites exist that claim to distribute these entirely online, the United States Bureau of Consular Affairs recommends -- for security reasons -- that you only apply through AAA or the National Auto Club. Neither of these organisations offer exclusively online services, because applications include sensitive materials. However the forms are available for downloading online.
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Things you need
- Driver's license
- Two passport photos
- Photocopy of driver's license
Navigate your browser to the AAA, or the National Automobile Club Website.
Click "International Driving Permit" from the National Automobile Club home page. When the International Driving Permit FAQ page appears, click on the "Download Application" icon. Print the application.
If using the AAA website, click "Travel" from the home page. Then scroll to the bottom of the page to the "Travel Extras" heading. Click "International Driving Permit." On the next page, click the blue "Application" icon, about midway down the page. Download and print the application.
Fill out the application completely, and photocopy both sides of your driver's license. Make sure the photocopy is clear. Sign the copy on both sides.
Put the completed application, the photocopy, two original passport photos with your signature on the back, and £9 together in an envelope.
If using AAA, send the package to the office nearest you. This may be found on the AAA website.
If using National Automobile Club, send to:
The National Automobile Club
1151 East Hillsdale Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404
The National Automobile Club takes 10 to 15 business days, to process an application, from the day it is received. AAA asks applicants to expect 4 to 6 weeks for return delivery. However, they offer expedited application processing. This takes one business day. Applicants requesting expedited processing, must include return postage.
Tips and warnings
- The passport-type photos may be digital, but must be high quality. Use passport photo specifications for a size and quality reference.
- If you're uncomfortable putting your information in the mail, applications may also be submitted by walk-in. Just find your local AAA or National Automobile Club office.
- The I.D.P. is only valid when presented alongside your original U.S. driver's license. Always keep both on you at all times.
- If you receive a traffic citation abroad, the violation will be noted on your U.S. driver's license. Fines and penalties must be paid to the law enforcement agency, or government who issued them.
- Your I.D.P. remains valid for one year from the date of issuance. You must reapply every year if you want to keep it.
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