Do I need an International Driver's Permit to rent a car in Spain?
May 10, 2022 3:30 PM   Subscribe

I have a valid, full, Canadian drivers license. I've booked a rental car in Spain. Do I need to also get an International Driver’s Permit (IDP)?

Anyone have an experience with this? Do they ask for it at the rental? Am I screwed if I don't have one?
posted by MiG to Travel & Transportation around Spain (10 answers total)
 
In my experience Spain doesn't ask for it. Usually countries that get lot of foreign visitors don't ask for it as that would lead to less customers. The International Driver's Permit is basically just a translation of your home license. It has no validity on its own. Only place where I haven't been able to rent a car without one is Japan.
posted by zeikka at 3:44 PM on May 10


I rented a car in France, I don't even remember them looking at my Utah license, just my passport. I just couldn't drive it into eastern Europe. It was uninsurable there.
posted by Oyéah at 4:06 PM on May 10


Best answer: Legally a non-EU driver is supposed to have an International Driver's Permit in Spain. I was asked for one last time I was renting a car in Spain. Anecdotally many rental places will look the other way if you play dumb but you're taking a risk and they are trivially cheap to get.
posted by Wretch729 at 4:43 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I didn't need one last time I rented in Spain. I will say though I was very glad to have the written request that the car be an automatic; if you (or any of your driving partners) can't drive stick, make sure you've got something in writing indicating your request for automatic. (The place we rented from tried to give us a stick, which would not have made for a comfortable trip).
posted by nat at 4:45 PM on May 10


Best answer: The car rental agency I used in Madrid required it. It was cheap and easy to get, we went through AAA but probably any travel agency could do it. You might as well.
posted by emjaybee at 5:30 PM on May 10


Best answer: Spain is one of the countries that requires an IDP for car rentals if you don't have an EU license. Rental companies often won't ask to see it (some do), but if you have any encounters with the police you'd definitely better have it along with your Canadian license.
posted by theory at 7:25 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I had to cancel a motorcycle rental in Barcelona 4 years ago because everyone told me they wouldn't ask for an EU or International DL, but they sure did! Check the cancellation policies and fees if you decide to roll the dice.
posted by Grim Fridge at 7:37 PM on May 10


Best answer: I rented a car in Barcelona in March. Avis. Did not need it at the rental counter. I was told that if I got pulled over, I would need it or have lots of hassles. I too got mine at AAA. Valid for a year.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:58 PM on May 10


Response by poster: Thanks all!

I usually spend my summers in Portugal, and rent a car there. Never been asked for an IDP. My Canadian license was sufficient. Heck I even got a speeding ticket with my Canadian license I. Portugal :-(

For a bunch of reasons, we are flying into Spain this summer and renting a car there, then heading to Portugal.

I guess I’ll get the IDP just in case. Doesn’t hurt to have it anyway, and it’s easy to obtain here.

Also, no worries on driving manual. My car in Canada is manual transmission as well :-)
posted by MiG at 6:24 AM on May 11


For travel in the EU I was told that although the rental company might not ask to see our International licenses (they did ask at Hertz) that if we were stopped for any reason by police and didn't have the IDL there would be fines. Never got stopped, so not sure about that.

Rental took place in Italy, destination ultimately Croatia. We did have to make appts at AAA and bring passport-type photos with us, and I think they wanted to see our passports. This was pre-covid, but I don't imagine the process is looser now.
posted by citygirl at 12:13 PM on May 11


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