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How to get an International Driver’s License

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How to get an International Driver’s License

Everybody visualizes independence in terms of mobility. Having a driver’s seat in a dream country is what everyone wants to experience in their lives. Imagine exploring the epic western lands of Mexico or the highly developed urban life in Tokyo City. The only way to move forward with your international ambitions is to apply for an International Driver’s License. But how can you get an international driver’s license? Where do you get an international driving permit from? And – most importantly – what countries accept international driving permits or related documents? And where do you even get an international driver’s license translation? You will find all these questions answered in this blog.

A driver license for immigrants is the prerequisite to having the freedom to drive anywhere in the world. International Drivers Permits are essential for you when you go out to rent vehicles in other countries. It is valid proof given to you by the relevant authorities of the USA that you can drive to over 150 countries in the world. As a foreigner, you will be required to keep a driver’s license translation copy in the relevant language if you want to operate the vehicle. Now, you may wonder: “How long does international driving permit last?” and where to get one. In this blog, we will figure out the process of obtaining your IDL and discover the best document translation services to help you prepare for international travel.

Why Do You Need an International Driving License as a US Citizen?

While a U.S. driver’s license is valid within the United States, it’s not necessarily enough to cruise the highways of other countries. Here’s why a U.S. citizen might need an IDP:

  • Language Barrier:  Imagine showing your license to a police officer in a country where English isn’t the primary language. An IDP translates your license information into ten to twelve different languages, making it easier for authorities to understand your driving qualifications.
  • Legal Requirement: Many countries require an IDP on top of your valid U.S. license for legal driving. You may intercept problems while using car rental services.
  • Expedited Identification:  An IDP acts as a companion document to your U.S. license, streamlining the process of proving your driving authorization to rental car companies, border officials, or law enforcement.

A US citizen is free to use an International Drivers License under the following conditions:

  • Neighbouring Countries: Canada and Mexico typically accept valid U.S. licenses for short-term visits. However, always check the specific requirements of each country before your trip.
  • Short Stays: Some countries allow visitors with valid U.S. licenses for short durations (e.g., a week or two). Double-check the regulations of your destination to be certain.

How to Obtain an IDP?

It comprises the following steps:

  • In Person: You can obtain an IDP from authorized organizations or automobile clubs in your country. You can use the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Visit their offices or website to initiate the application process.
  • Online Application: Some organizations offer online application services for IDPs. You can fill out the application form online, upload the required documents, and pay the necessary fees. The IDP will then be mailed to your address.
  • Through Mail: If you prefer, you can apply for an IDP via mail. Make sure to acquire the main form and complete it, fill up the necessary documents, and mail it to the designated location.
  • At International Locations: If you’re already abroad and realize you need an IDP, some countries allow you to obtain one locally.

How Can You Get an International Driver’s License? Follow These Steps!

Following are the steps that a US citizen normally goes through while trying to convert their US driver’s license into an IDP.

Check Eligibility

A person must be 18 years of age and a US citizen. A US driving license is also required, one that is not expired.

Determine the Petition Method 

There are two scenarios here. You can apply by mail or by being present in person at the travel office. Generally, the in-person application method leads to faster results. This is because the mail processing itself can take some extra days even though it is more convenient. THE AAA is the only authority in the USA that provides an IDP. This is important to know to avoid some legal scams. 

Put Together the Required Documents 

The exact requirements might vary slightly depending on your issuing authority, but generally, you’ll need:

  • Your Valid U.S. Driver’s License: Make sure your license is current and not expired.
  • Two Passport-Sized Photos: Check with your issuing authority for specific photo requirements (e.g., size, background color).
  • Application Fee: The fee varies by organization, so be sure to confirm the amount beforehand. Some AAA locations might also require additional documentation like proof of passport or travel insurance. It’s always best to call your chosen branch to confirm their exact requirements.

You will be required to fill out an application form, which consists of details required for an IDP. Pay the USD $20 fee and apply.

Collect Your IDP

You can instantly get your International Driving Permit at the AAA branch. For those who have applied by mail, this can take up to two weeks to arrive. Also, an International Driving Permit is usually valid for 1 year from the date it is formed. Currently, no extensions for this period are possible. 

How to Get an IDP If You’re Already Overseas?

If you’re already in an overseas country and require a translation to your foreign driver’s license to initiate your travelling, you can send your documents by mail to this location:

Address: AAA/IDP, 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32746, Attn: Mail Stop #28

Required Documents:

  • Completed and signed application form (likely available online)
  • Photocopy of both sides of your valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Payment by check or money order (no cash accepted)

Keep in mind that it might take more than a month to get a return back mail. For further questions, you can contact [email protected] 

Hopefully, now it’s clear how can you get an international driver’s license and embark on a journey overseas. 


Obtaining an International Driver’s License opens up a world of possibilities for travellers, allowing them to explore foreign destinations with ease and legality. Whether you’re dreaming of cruising through the streets of Paris or traversing the winding roads of New Zealand, having an IDL makes sure that you can drive confidently in over 150 countries worldwide.

To obtain an IDL, you can apply through authorized organizations or automobile clubs in your country, either in person, online, or through mail. Additionally, some countries allow you to obtain an IDL locally if you’re already abroad.

At TranslateSwift, we understand the importance of seamless communication and legal compliance when travelling abroad. Our translation services guarantee that your international driver’s license translation is accurate and accepted by authorities worldwide, giving you the peace of mind to navigate unfamiliar roads confidently.

FAQs – Getting an International Driver’s License

If someone travels to the USA from a foreign country, can they get an IDP from AAA?

Generally, an IDP can only be issued from a country whose domestic license you currently have. Therefore, anybody from China can only get an IDP from China.

Is IDP valid for South America?

The international driving permit is valid for almost all the countries of South America. Only Brazil and Uruguay don’t comply with this and an Inter-American Driving Permit (IADP) is required.

What is the significance of IDP in the foreign states?

Many countries don’t accept the U.S. driving license for which an IDP is required. Many countries do respect the US driving license but you might require an IDP to provide a translation of their foreign driving license. Therefore, in both scenarios, having an IDP will mostly resolve all your driving issues in a foreign land.