How Do You Get an International Driver's License?

An international driving permit is obtained through the American Automobile Association or National Automobile Club by filling out an application, providing photos, showing a valid U.S. driver's license, and paying a fee. Only the AAA and NAC are authorized by the Department of State to issue international driving permits.

An international driving permit is a form of identification valid in more than 150 countries. It is not a driver's license by itself, but a translation of the holder's U.S. driver's license. The U.S. driver's license must be carried along with the international driving permit. Those applying for a permit do not need to be U.S. citizens, but they must be at least 18 years old and have a U.S. driver's license that is valid for at least six months. Application forms are downloadable from the websites of the AAA or NAC. Color photos should be passport-sized, which is 2 inches by 2 inches. A photocopy of both sides of the U.S. driver's license is acceptable. NAC accepts applications by mail only, while AAA accepts applications by mail or in person.

Although not all countries recognize international driving permits, for driving in many countries, including beyond-border areas of Canada and Mexico, they are mandatory. Many car rental agencies also insist on drivers having international driving permits when renting cars abroad.