International Driving Permits

Discussion in 'Car Hire, Taxis and Limos' started by Mal, Jul 21, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Welcome to Australia's leading independent Frequent Flyer and Travel Resource!
Our site contains tons of information that will improve your travel experience.
Joining AFF is fast, simple & ABSOLUTELY FREE -  join now by clicking on the JOIN NOW button, and take immediate advantage of these great BENEFITS.
Once registered, this box will disappear. And you will see fewer advertisements :)
  1. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
    12,227
    1,309
    London
    Flight Map:
    View my flight map
    I've received conflicting stories over the need for one of these cards to prove that your drivers license is valid.

    Have only been asked to show my Australian license overseas.

    Has anyone ever been refused a rental car / had strife from local law enforcement for not carrying one? Is it actually worthwhile to get?
     

  2. NM

    NM
    Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    15,760
    1,211
    Flight Map:
    View my flight map
    I have never been asked for an International Drivers Permit from a rental car company. They are not interested in it.

    I was, however, once berated by a policeman from Maryland for not having one. It is my understanding that there is no requirements to have one when driving in the USA. A valid Australian drivers licence is sufficient. However, when driving south on I95 just before the Baltimore Tunnel I was pulled over in an Avis rental car. The registration sticker on the numberplate had expired the previous day (it was the 2nd day of the new month) and I had no idea I was driving a vehicle with an expired sticker.

    The office obviously wanted to see my licence etc. He took a while to walk to my car, so I assume had already done a rego check on the vehicle so probably already knew it was a rental.

    I showed him my Aussie (Qld) licence and the rental papers from Avis. The papers showed that the rental agreement covered the period over which the sticker would expire - I had not extended the rental or failed to return it before it expired etc.

    Anyway, he looks at my licence and say "what's that?". I told him it was my Queensland Drivers Licence. He says the only valid licence for driving in the USA is one issued by one of the 52 US states, or Canada or Mexico. When I said that an International Drivers Permit was not a requirement for driving in the USA, he was adamant I was wrong and he was correct.

    Anyway, he threatened to arrest me for driving an unregistered vehicle and to impound the car. He asked me about what I was doing in the USA and why I was driving south on I95. I explained I was returning to DC after a few days in Delaware and was due to return the rental car to Dulles airport the next day when I was flying back to Australia via LAX. Back then I had a paper ticket and showed him my ticket to fly IAD-LAX and then LAX-BNE the following day, along with my Australian Passport as a means of identification (since he would not recognise my Aussie drivers licence).

    Anyway, after he looked all through my paperwork, and was satisfied that I had not stolen the vehicle and that it was Avis's fault for renting me a vehicle whose registration would expire during the rental period, he let me go with instructions to drive straight to my hotel and then to the airport tomorrow and tell Avis about the expired sticker.

    I still believe I was right and he was wrong regarding the need to have an International Drivers Permit to drive in the USA. However, I now always carry one with me and claim the cost of it back on my company travel expenses. Its easier to have one and not need it, than to argue with an uninformed police officer on the side of I95.

    In some ways it may have been interesting if he had arrested me. It would have been a very interesting phone call to Avis asking them to come bail me out as they had rented me a vehicle that would be illegal to drive before the end of the rental agreement. And it would have been interesting to get an apology from the arresting policeman when he did his research and found that he was wrong regarding the IDP. But at the time I did not need the excitement and was very happy to just be polite and agree to comply with the officer's requests.

    On my last IDP, the person who issued it forgot to put the date on the front cover. So one day I might get around to writing a date on it. Its going to be the longest 12 month validity I have had :cool:.
     
  3. Soundguy

    Soundguy Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    323
    3
    Rudd's Banana Republic
    I think IDP's are rather useless, I had one for 12 months but no-one was interested in it so I never renewed. The other day I was in a car rental office here and some German tourists were trying to rent a car and presented an IDP, apparently they had been advised that this is what was needed to drive in Australia. The rental company refused to accept it and insisted on seeing the German drivers license. They explained that if his German licence had been cancelled the IDP would not have been so they don't consider it a valid form of licence.

    My wife doesn't drive (yet, she wants to learn now I bought an automatic car) but she has a foreign motorbike licence that is still valid. Funny thing is that it says nothing at all about 'motorbike' on the licence so it would be entirely possible for her to rent a car in any country, despite never having driven one before.
     
  4. cabbage74

    cabbage74 Intern

    Mar 28, 2005
    91
    1
    Within the (Australian) IDP it does state that you are advised to carry your Australian licence. My understanding is that it is more of a certificate to say that your licence is real as there are many different licences throughout the world. If I were a cop I'd have no idea if the Bulgarian/Chilian etc licences were fakes or the real thing. So I presume as simply a certificate of authenticity most companies would actually want to see what is authentic.

    I get one if I think I'm going to be getting a car, never been asked for it.

    Mal.
     
  5. NM

    NM
    Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    15,760
    1,211
    Flight Map:
    View my flight map
    An IDP is not a licence and is not valid without a current licence to accompany it. Its sole purpose is to present the foreign licence details (i.e. what type of vehicle can be driven and any restrictions such as automatic-only or must wear eye glasses) in a common and consistent format so that people in a different country don't need to know what a "type A" or "class B" licence from another country actually means.
     
  6. bravoecho1

    bravoecho1 Member

    Sep 10, 2004
    221
    0
    OOL
    I definately recommend one if you are driving in the Middle East. Having both driven with and without one, the hassles it removes far outweighs the cost or inconvenience of getting one.

    I have been pulled over twice. The first time was without a IDP and it took about an hour to sort everything out. The second time I had an IDP and was gone in 5 minutes.
     
  7. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    1,761
    243
    Canberra / London
    Have to say that I've never experienced a situation where an IDP would have been even a little bit helpful (I have Aust and UK Licences).

    However, I've never driven a vehicle in the Middle East, so an IDP may well be useful there.

    As I don't have my Hummer with me when I'm in some of these more dangerous places, I just don't drive while I'm there. Let someone else take care of that.
     
  8. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
    12,227
    1,309
    London
    Flight Map:
    View my flight map
    Hmmm.

    Interesting arguements for and against getting one. Thanks :)

    It's only $25 or so, so not really that expensive in the scheme of things. Just inconvenient to get the passport photos done and head to my nearest RACQ.

    I think I'll keep risking it for a little bit longer. Maybe if I get put in a cell for a couple of hours while they do checks on my background and license, my need to get one will increase :D (either that, or the need to drive in a "no-english" speaking country might also help me with that decision!)
     
  9. TravFF

    TravFF Junior Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    32
    1
    I took one around the world with me in 2001. Only met the police once (Minnesota) and although I offered him both my Aussie licence and IDP he was not interested in the latter. I can't imagine he knew what an Australian licence looked like but a nice broad accent, Akubra hat and friendly "g'day officer" might have helped me out a little in (1) not needing the IDP and (2) not getting a $US90 traffic fine... :cool:
     
  10. fasteddie

    fasteddie Junior Member

    Jul 10, 2006
    16
    0
    From recollection, I believe there is a list of countries you should carry an IDP with the licence? :?:

    I've presented both for a rental and when pulled over once (probably just a random check on a farang) in Thailand. Don't know which one they actually looked at (neither was written in Thai) but I don't really care.

    It was acceptable documentation, and I'd much rather have too much than not enough.
     
  11. Tiki

    Tiki Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    449
    32
    BNE
    Has anyone ever had demerit points from other countries roll over onto to their Australian licence? Would an IDP help guard against this?
     
  12. ColinP

    ColinP Member

    May 1, 2006
    459
    15
    Adelaide
    I've never heard of that happening and I'd say the chances of it happening are close to zero, but an IDP would make no difference.

    ------------
     
  13. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    1,761
    243
    Canberra / London
    I think it's unlikely that overseas demerit points would impact your Aust licence (maybe NZ excepted though). It's just too hard for most police forces.

    In my own experience it has never happened (and I have been booked on the odd occasion overseas).
     
  14. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    2,303
    698
    Int driver permit has no legal standing in Australia and therefore has no legal currency in any other country. Any policeman or anyone else asking to see one doesn't know what they are doing. A passport is a far more useful piece of identifying documentation. End of story.
     
  15. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    You clearly have no idea (and I work in this area, and have just made some phone calls to verify what I am about to post).

    An IDP *is* useful, no matter where you are, depending on the licence you hold and the conditions endorsed on it.

    A valid drivers licence is generally valid around the world, for the vehicle classes shown, subject to any conditions endorsed on it. The problems arise when different jurisdictions use different codes for vehicle classes and/or conditions.

    The IDP will convert these different codes into a standard format, so that anybody - no matter where they are or what the local language is - can easily see the validity of the licence, the vehicle classes the driver is permitted to drive and any conditions placed upon the licence.

    This information is readily available if an IDP is not available, but it takes time and is onerous, and can easily be avoided merely by having an IDP.

    So whilst an IDP is not a *necessity*, it is certainly something which can be worth having, if for no other reason that to save the hassle (both to you AND the cop) of sitting there for a lengthy period whilst the details of your licence are confirmed.

    Dave
     
  16. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    2,303
    698

    Thanks for the compliment. I would like to know who you called. Doesn't matter what is written on it, it can say you can drive an 18 wheeler or a Leopard tank. It is not a legal document and has no standing whatsoever, so by chance it may satisfy the enquiry of some local authority somewhere, but legally it is a worthless document. Try using one in a 100 point test :!: Those who make money from issuing them such as RACV and NRMA are not government agencies or statutory authorities and cannot issue official documents.
     
  17. fasteddie

    fasteddie Junior Member

    Jul 10, 2006
    16
    0
    maninblack, did anybody claim that it was a "legal document"?

    I have a Card issued by my local video store that comes in very handy if I feel like taking home a movie. But I bet you I can walk into that store with other forms of "identification" and take home any DVD that I want.

    It just takes a lot longer.
     
  18. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    2,303
    698
    Right. My point exactly, it may satisfy some enquiries, but ultimately there is no need for one. The Maryland cop mentioned in an earlier post for example, but actually if put to the test that cop was wrong and it seems he didn't pursue the matter.
     
  19. Dave Noble

    Dave Noble Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2005
    6,419
    8
    It is so useful and time saving when whole stories are just ended...

    It's legal standing is that it is required to have one in order to legally drive in some (mainly non-English speaking) countries in addition to a normal driving licence. For most countries, the regular driving licence will suffice on its own

    As far as Maryland goes, there is not a requirement for an IDP in the USA

    The necessity to have an IDP depends on nationality of the driving licence.

    Dave
     
  20. fasteddie

    fasteddie Junior Member

    Jul 10, 2006
    16
    0
    Thanks Dave.

    Sort of like a taking an acceptable "Translation Dictionary" with the Drivers Licence itself?
     
Loading...

Share This Page