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PSA -- IDP needed for Car Rental in Europe

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For folks who are cruising in Europe and considering renting a car for shore excursions or pre/post cruise travel, be aware that more and more European Countries are requiring (rather than requesting or prefering) the International Driving Permit  in order to rent cars, due to changes in either EU law or implementation of some bit of one of the Vienna Conventions, I've heard both. In some countries, without an IDP you will absolutely not be allowed to rent a car, and this information is on neither the big consolidators websites (Expedia, Kayak, etc.) nor the individual rental car websites (Avis, Hertz, etc.) It's only intermittently reflected on the State Department's website at travel.state.gov. 

 

I've personally had trouble in Cyprus, Greece and now Romania in the past 3 months after never being asked an IDP before ever (and so not getting the darned thing renewed, since I'd never ever had to use it... *sigh*) and in each case I've heard from the car rental folks and friends at the US Embassy that this is getting more common in Europe and may be EU-wide.

 

IDPs are available for about $20 from AAA and the AATA, but trying to get them online looks like it's mostly a scam -- see this link from the FTC for more information: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0050-international-drivers-license-scams . I think you can do them same-day if you go to your local branch, but if you don't have a local branch or are outside of the US, it's going to be a 6-8 week process that involves mailing in an application and waiting for it to come back to you, so that kind of sucks. 

 

Anyway, hope that helps someone! Luckily, although I discovered this the hard way, I didn't do it while cruising 🙂

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good to know, and here's additional info about what you need to get one:

 

from AAA web site:

An IDP is available through select AAA offices.

AAA is one of only two private entities in the U.S. authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue an IDP. An IDP is recommended for international travelers – even if you are not planning to drive. Some countries require an IDP. IDPs may only be issued a maximum of six (6) months in advance of the desired effective date.

 

How to Apply for an IDP

To obtain an International Driving Permit, you will need to provide:

  • Download and fill out an application, and bring it to a AAA branch office that offers IDP service. (Please check in advance to ensure IDP services are offered.)
  • Two original passport pictures (Many AAA branch offices offer photo services. Please check in advance.)
  • A valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Pay a $20 USD permit fee

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Posted (edited)

btw ... if wondering what an IDP IS:

 

It is NOT an international driver's license ..... all it is/does is translate your license information into a bunch of different languages

 

"An IDP is an official translation of your US license (making it easier for the cop to write out a ticket)."

 

😂

Edited by Capt_BJ

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Thanks.  We will be spending six weeks in Greece and Cyprus in Sept/Oct.   in the past I have been spotty about IDL's,  I used one for quite some time that did not have a date of issue on it, hence it was always valid. It eventually became too tatered and dog eared. 

 

  We have cars in Europe many times over the past 25 plus years but we have never been asked for a IDL.  Not even when we were stopped by police in Turkey.    Guess I will go to Costco, get my photo done, and then to the auto club for a new IDL.

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My husband needed to provide his in 2015 to rent from Avis in the UK, and we weren't leaving the UK. We thought it was odd that an English speaking country would require one from a person carrying a DL in English, and he was glad that I'm obsessive about things he sometimes finds silly.

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Hmm, I rented last year May in Sicily from Hertz (have status) and it was not required.

 

And a few years ago in Bulgaria.  

 

But it seems I should get one and carry it with me.  I have had them in the past, but never needed it.

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1 hour ago, iancal said:

IDL

According to post #3 and IDP isn't an IDL.

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Posted (edited)

It is NOT a drivers license.  You still need to present your DL.  In all the times we have rented cars worldwide we have never been asked for the IDL.  But we are always asked for our DL's. 

 

If you look at the IDL that the auto club issues it is simply a  fold out document with your picture, a date stamp, and the details of your operators permit written out in about six languages.

 

People refer to it as an IDL.  The nomenclature is no big deal and not something to get one's knickers in a twist about.

Edited by iancal

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1 minute ago, iancal said:

not something to get one's knickers in a twist about.

Not I!.

 

So IS there an IDL at all?  Or just a misnomer?

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Posted (edited)

Slight correction: it's an IDP (International Drivers Permit), not an IDL. And must be carried in conjunction with your DL. In the past, few rental agencies would ask to see it, even though they always ask for the DL. This is what appears to have changed. But whether the agency asks for it or not,  it is a legal requirement for the driver to have one. If you fail to produce it when asked by police  (traffic stop, accident, etc) it's an automatic fine, and in some countries that fine can be substantial.  So the small investment in time and money to get one from your local AAA is certainly worth it if you plan on renting a car in Europe.

Edited by mom says

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No idea.  Mine is called an International Drivers Permit.  Lists all the countries it is valid for.  Multiple languages,  lists any driving restrictions etc.

 

If go into an auto club office and ask for an IDL this is what you will get.   At least in Canada. Not certain about other jurisdictions.  It has a passport like photo, DoB date and place.

 

I think that it is an auto club rip off/money maker simply because it is good for one year.  At the very least it should be valid until the expiry of ones actual DL, IMHO

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According to an article I've read, an IDP in conjunction with your license is required in  

  • Austria
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

I wasn't aware of Germany. Another site I've viewed doesn't mention Germany but adds Croatia, Romania and Slovakia. I've rented in Germany without one and managed to get the car with no questions. We spent one evening in Austria on that trip and was aware of the requirement in Austria.

I had an IDP in Italy and the rental desk had no interest in seeing it.

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Posted (edited)

That may be so but we have rented cars, and driven in many of those countries.  Multiple times in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.  Never, ever been asked for our IDP.    We have been stopped once..in Turkey.  It was never requested, nor was our DL.  They just waved us on.  Same in Montenegro and  in Croatia.  Based on the comment above. I will have mine renewed as we have a trip coming up to Greece, Cyprus, and possibly Morocco.  I do not want to chance being denied a rental simply because I did not bother to get a  new IDP.

Edited by iancal

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Posted (edited)

You're fine until you get a police officer who decides that you're not. I can believe that.

 

While we're on the subject, France doesn't require an IDP,  but they do require a notarized translation of your license. The French embassy in the US strongly recommends an IDP.

Edited by Underwatr

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https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0050-international-drivers-license-scams

 

Federal Trade Commission

 

International Driver's License Scams

 

An international driving permit (IDP) translates your government-issued driver’s license into 10 languages. Although your U.S. driver’s license lets you drive in many foreign countries, the translations in the IDP are intended to minimize language barriers when you drive in countries where English is not widely spoken or understood. That’s all an IDP does. It’s not a substitute for a valid, government-issued license. It can’t be used in place of a suspended or revoked license or as a government-issued identification card. And it won’t protect you from traffic tickets or “points.”

 

An international driving permit (IDP) – sometimes incorrectly called an international drivers license (IDL) — translates your state-issued driver’s license so you can show it to officials in foreign countries to help them interpret your driver’s license. An official IDP is a gray, multi-page booklet with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” printed at the top of the cover, and the seal of either the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) in the middle of the cover. An IDP is not proof of identity.

 

 

IDP Scams

Individuals or companies not authorized to issue IDPs sell fakes on websites, through unsolicited email, and in person for prices ranging from $60 to $400.

If you buy a fake IDP, not only will you be paying for a worthless document, but you also could face legal problems or travel delays if you’re detained for using it to drive in a foreign country.

Many local operations target non-native speakers through ads in foreign-language newspapers that direct people to websites or local storefronts. The marketers falsely claim that their documents:

  • authorize people to drive legally in the U.S., even if they don’t have state-issued licenses or if their state-issued licenses have been suspended or revoked
  • can be used as photo ID in the U.S.

In fact, if you’re a U.S. resident, and you’re caught using an IDP in place of a state-issued driver’s license, the consequences can be severe. You could be charged with driving without a license — or driving with a suspended or revoked license. If you can’t produce proof of your identity (for example, a valid driver’s license, a state-issued identification card, valid immigration documents, or a passport), the officer can assume that you’re trying to withhold your identity and arrest you.

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5 hours ago, ducklite said:

My husband needed to provide his in 2015 to rent from Avis in the UK, and we weren't leaving the UK. We thought it was odd that an English speaking country would require one from a person carrying a DL in English, and he was glad that I'm obsessive about things he sometimes finds silly.

It probably had more to do with the fact that you were not a British citizen and had a foreign DL, not that it was in English.  

 

I always get my IDP if I am going to rent a car when traveling to Europe.  Knowing my luck, the one time I don't get it, I'd either not get my rental car or be stopped by the local police and fined for not having it..

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1 hour ago, slidergirl said:

It probably had more to do with the fact that you were not a British citizen and had a foreign DL, not that it was in English.  

You're excusing the incompetence of a rental agent. An IDP is not required of Americans in the UK, full stop. 

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