How to get an International Driving Permit from AAA, plus why you might need one when traveling

Planning to drive overseas? Consider getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) beforehand. They’re inexpensive, easy to obtain through AAA, and honored as identification in more than 150 countries. The permit contains your name, photo, and driver information translated into 10 languages.
Why & when you might need one

The three main reasons to carry an International Driving Permit

  •  Driver's license icon

    It's valid in most countries

    Some countries don't recognize U.S. driver's licenses, but do recognize IDPs.
  • World icon

    It can reduce language barriers

    An IDP will show your name and driver information translated in 10 languages.
  • Car key icon

    It might be needed to rent a car

    Some countries require visitors to have an IDP in order to rent a vehicle.

Each country has its own requirements for foreign visitors who want to drive. Some, like Canada, recognize U.S. driver's licenses. Others require an IDP, and a few require separate documents. That's why AAA recommends bringing an IDP along with your U.S. driver's license to help avoid many potential hassles, especially if you're traveling in a country where English is not the primary language. Even if an IDP isn't required, you may encounter traffic police or other officials who can't read your U.S. license but can read one of the IDP's 10 other languages.

Not sure what the rules are where you'll be traveling? Ask the experts at your local AAA branch in person or over the phone.

Do Americans need an IDP in Canada or Mexico?

Nope! U.S. driver's licenses are considered valid by Canada and Mexico for visitors on short-term tourist trips. (You'll still need your passport to enter either country, whether or not you're driving.)

 

U.S. auto insurance is also valid in Canada as long as you're only visiting, but if you are driving your own vehicle into Mexico, you will need to buy Mexico liability auto insurance. The U.S. liability insurance you already have is invalid in Mexico. Learn more about Mexico auto insurance.

The Peace Arch at the U.S.-Canadian border between Washington and British Columbia
How to get one

AAA is one of only two organizations authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue International Driving Permits in the United States. AAA issues IDPs to the public; you don't need to be a member to get an IDP from AAA.

You can apply for an IDP from any full-service AAA branch in person or by mail. You'll need: 

  • A completed IDP application. Pick one up at a AAA branch or download and print one
  • Two original passport-size photos with your signature on the back (need photos?)
  • A check or money order for the $20 application fee, plus tax where applicable
  • A current driver's license from your home state or U.S. territory (or a photocopy of both sides if applying by mail)

To apply by mail, send your completed application, fee, and a photocopy of both sides of your driver's license to any full-service AAA branch. Allow 10 days for delivery.

Important notes

  • If you are currently overseas, you can apply for an IDP by sending the materials listed above to:

    AAA/IDP
    Attn: Mailstop #28
    1000 AAA Drive
    Heathrow, FL 32746

  • IMPORTANT: An IDP is only valid when accompanied by your physical U.S. driver's license.
  • You must be at least 18 to apply for an IDP.
  • IDPs are valid for one year and aren't renewable.
Highway in Berlin, Germany
Looking for the IDP application?
Applications are available at any full-service AAA branch, or you can download and fill out the application to take with you or apply by mail.
Blue camera icon
Need passport-size photos for your IDP?

Get a set of two passport photos at any AAA branch.You can conveniently get your IDP in person during the same visit. Passport photo prices at AAA are:

  • Classic members: $10 plus tax
  • AAA Plus® members: $8 plus tax
  • AAA Premier® members: $5 plus tax
  • Non-members: $15 plus tax