Last Updated on December 18, 2023 by Kristin


Plan on renting a car outside the United States? Depending on your destination, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) or an Inter-America Driving Permit (IADP) to accompany your US-issued driver’s license. Don’t worry about this being a hassle; the application process for this extra document is straightforward and does not require any additional driving tests—but you will need to apply before your trip.

Here’s how to know if you need an international permit and how to get one:

Do You Need an IDP or an IADP?

Both an IDP or IADP essential serves the same purpose. Neither document is a replacement for your driver’s license. Rather, it translates your state-issued ID into other languages so that officials in foreign countries can understand the information. When driving in a destination that requires this documentation, you need to carry both your driver’s license and the IDP or IADP at all times when behind the wheel.

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Both types of permits are available through the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Whether you need an IDP or IADP depends on the countries you’ll be visiting on your trip. The most common permit is the IDP, which is recognized by more than 150 countries. Two notable exceptions in South America are Uruguay and Brazil. Check the application on the AAA website to find which permit you need.

How to Obtain an IDP from AAA

There are two basic qualifications applicants need to start the application process for an IDP or IADP from AAA.

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have a U.S.-issued driver’s license

Applying for the IDP or IADP is very simple, and only requires a few basic steps. There are two methods for turning in the paperwork: You can go to an AAA branch or you can mail in an application to the nearest office. Be aware that U.S. drivers cannot obtain an IDP online.

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Here are the steps AAA outlines in the application process:

  1. Print, fill out and sign the IDP and IADP application form (it’s the same for both types of permits).
  2. Get two U.S.-sized passport photos (2″ X 2″). You can also try an app designed to take passport photos, but read the requirements carefully to avoid retakes. You might also be able to get passport-sized photos at an AAA branch—call ahead to confirm.
  3. Make a photocopy of both sides of your U.S. driver’s license.
  4. Include a check or money order totaling $20 for each mailed permit application (if visiting an AAA branch you can pay there). Don’t send cash through the mail.
  5. Mail the application to the nearest AAA branch (paying extra for expedited shipping is an option if you need it quickly).

It will take 5-10 minutes to fill out the application, and you can expect to receive your permit in approximately two weeks if you mail in the application.