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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How to Get an International Driving Permit

Karl Benz's "Velo" model (1894) - en...Image via Wikipedia

If you plan on tooling around a foreign country in a rental car, chances are you might find yourself needing an International Drivers Permit. This is a special document that works in conjunction with your standard license to give you rights to operate a vehicle in a country other than America.

Before you take off for your destination country, it is a very good idea to make sure you know the requirements for driving. If you need a permit, you will want to get one in advance of your trip. Obtaining an international driving permit involves a multistep process. Fortunately, it is not very difficult to follow.

The steps you will need to follow to get a permit include:

Making sure your license does not need to be renewed - In order to obtain an International Drivers Permit, you will have to have a valid license in your home state. If your expiration date is approaching, go ahead and get your license renewed. If your license expires while you are abroad, your permit will no longer be valid.

Get passport photos - When you fill out the application for your permit, you will find it calls for two passport photos. To get these, just make an appointment with a local photography studio or check with stores that develop film. Some drugstores, for example, will take and develop passport photos on site.

Fill out the proper paperwork - The driving permit will call for an application process. You can obtain applications through the American Automobile Association or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. Both organizations offer permit applications online via their web sites. There is a fee attached to the permitting process, but this can change from time to time. To find out how much, just contact one of the two organizations directly.

Send in the application - Be sure to fill out and send in the application well in advance of your trip. Processing can take some time, so the earlier the better.

Once you have your permit in place, there is still more to consider before driving in a foreign country. To make sure you do not run into problems down the road, be sure to:

Check into insurance requirements - Depending on the country you intend to visit, you may be required to purchase additional automobile insurance. Find out before you go so you know what to expect and what to budget for.

Brush up on the rules of the road - Foreign countries can have very different laws for motorists. Be sure you understand the rules for where you are going. It is also a very good idea to study up on road signs and their meanings.

When your standard license is paired with an international drivers permit, you will find that the world can literally become your oyster. This combination gives you legal privileges to operate a vehicle in some 150 countries outside America. To truly enjoy the freedom this can provide, be sure to follow the local laws and study up on the rules before you go.

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