I just had to get an International Drivers Permit for a crazy trip I’m taking to Sri Lanka in April.
This unforgettable trip will be racing tuk-tuks around the north half of the island country over the course of 10 days. I’m so pumped!
However, there was one serious stipulation for entering this challenge in Sri Lanka. We are required to have our International Driving Permit (IDP) to be insured by the company. I obtained an IDP back in 06′ when I went to Australia but haven’t had one since, and never really needed one again, until now.
What Is an IDP
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a document that proves you possess a valid driver’s license in your country of residence. It is recognized by more than 150 countries and allows you to drive freely in those countries.
An IDP is not a substitute for having a valid license in your home province/ state or country.
Why Get an IDP
If you plan on driving or renting a car in a foreign country it’s a good idea to have an IDP. Although I have rented cars in the USA, Cyprus, and Armenia and have never needed to prove an international drivers license, it may still be a very useful certificate. It is considered a valid form of identification while overseas so if you loose an ID or Passport while abroad this is a valuable way of proving your identity. Also just because the car rental companies didn’t need me to validate that I had an IDP doesn’t mean I would have been okay if I was pulled over.
Where is An IDP Valid
The list is immense. Check out this site that gives a list of the countries that have signed the 1949 United Nations Convention on Road Traffic and if they deem an IDP necessary for their country.
How to get an IDP
In Canada, you must go through CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) which will have an affiliate branch for different provinces. (Ie. BCAA in BC or AMA in AB) They are the only organization where you can obtain the license in the Canada. Check out the site here.
In the USA you can go through AAA (American Automobile Association) or AATA (American Automobile Touring Alliance). Check out the DMV website here.
In UK you get them through the Post Office or the AA.
In Aus it depends on State. Check here.
The easiest way to get the permit is by going into a physical branch and seeing a travel attendant. They will ask for your current provincial/state license, your home address, and two passport photos. All CAA branches in Canada will be able to take these photos on site. The entire process including getting photos will take around 20 minutes.
If you don’t have a branch near you can mail in your application. This will obviously take longer, and in my opinion, be far more of a hassle.
An IDP costs $25 in Canada and roughly the same in the countries mentioned above. It is only valid for one year so don’t bother rushing to get it too much in advance.
Do you have an IDP or have you ever needed one? Tell us in the comments.