International drivers permit for driving in the US
October 17, 2011 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Looking for information on international drivers license for driving in the US.

I am completely unable to find information on this at all and am giving up. I would like to find out where in the US I can get an international drivers license or permit to drive in the US with a foreign license. All information in English is pointing to the international permit given out by AAA for driving outside the states, but nothing for inside the states with a European license.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by wile e to Travel & Transportation around United States (5 answers total)
This is the State Dept site on the subject. It explicitly says that you'll need to get an International Drivers Permit before entering the US.

This site from the US Embassy in Finland has some more details about how to acquire such a thing, and the fact that - like so many things in the US - the exact length of time you can use your Finnish license while in the US will vary depending on the state you're in.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:02 PM on October 17, 2011

An "international driver's license" is just a document with a translation of the info on the driver's license you already have into a number of languages. Here's what the government has to say about it.

Here in Chicago you'll see signs for international driver's licenses in places that specialize in passport photos and the like. I assume it's similar elsewhere.
posted by phunniemee at 6:06 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The body entrusted with issuing IDPs is generally the main automobile association (or associations) of the country where your licence is issued: in Finland, that's Autolitto.

As phunniemee says, they're basically an official translation to supplement the licence itself: in the US, an IDP is recommended for that supplementary value, but in most states it's not required in order to drive. On the other hand, car rental and insurance companies may want to see one.
posted by holgate at 7:02 PM on October 17, 2011

The other situation in which an IDP can be useful is if you're re-establishing residence in the US and want to skip some of the bureaucratic steps that may be required by a particular state DMV -- e.g. if you want credit for your foreign licence, the IDP may remove the need to have it translated. As with all driving-related things in the US, that varies from state to state.
posted by holgate at 7:09 PM on October 17, 2011

You've heard already what an IDP is from other (phunniemee and holgate).

As holgate said, too, the issuing body for IDP's is almost always the main automobile association in the country where your license was issued.

However, if the country in which your license was issued differs from your country of residence, you can also get it from the main automobile association in your country of residence in certain circumstances (speak to the association first, then your consulate).

An anecdote: the girlfriend and I recently travelled to the U.S. for a road trip. I am British, living in the Netherlands, and she is Dutch.

My girlfriend's driving license is in Dutch, and as such she did not need an IDP, but it was recommended. My license is in English, so I did not need an IDP at all (i.e. no translation of my license was necessary).
posted by fakelvis at 11:58 PM on October 17, 2011

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