How to Get a Temporary Driving License for Foreign Travel in the United States

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People with a valid U.S. driver’s license may apply for an international driving permit (IDP) for renting a car and driving overseas. According to the U.S. State Department, more than 150 countries honor an IDP as an official translation of a U.S. driver’s license. While the IDP doesn’t replace a driver’s license, many car rental companies overseas require an IDP to rent a car, even if the country doesn’t recognize the document. An IDP has a fixed term for use (six months), so frequent and long-term travelers must apply for an IDP on a regular basis.

Make sure to obtain an international driving permit for road trips abroad.

Make sure to obtain an international driving permit for road trips abroad.

Items you will need

  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • Printer
  • Current driver’s license
  • Optional: photocopy of driver’s license, check, envelope, postage stamp
Step 1Turn your passport-sized photos face-down and sign the back of each photograph.

Step 2Access the application for an international driving permit from the American Automobile Association (AAA) website (see AAA Resource).

Step 3Review the list of countries that honor an international driving permit to ensure that you can use one where you are going. Scroll down the web page for the table near the bottom of the form.

Step 4Complete the online application by selecting each field and typing the required information. The information must match the information on your driver’s license.

Step 5Click the “Print Application” button and sign and date the application.

Step 6Locate a local AAA office or National Automobile Club branch (see Resources). To apply in person at the local office, bring your completed application, original driver’s license, passport-sized photos and payment.

Step 7Mail a photocopy of your driver’s license (both sides), passport-sized photo, payment and completed application to your local AAA office if you want to process the application by mail.


  • Processing International Driving Permits takes approximately four to six weeks and the permit is valid for six months from the date of issuance. If applying by mail and you want expedited processing, add the cost for express mail service (U.S. Postal Service rates) with your fee.
  • Check with the AAA office or National Automobile Association for special considerations for your destination country because some countries require a Special Registration Fee, International Driving Permit and U.S. driver’s license upon arrival.


  • According to AAA, the International Driving Permit is not valid in the same country as the traveler’s driver’s license. For example, a traveler with a New York State driver’s license cannot use an International Driving Permit in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Regina Edwards has been a freelance writer since 1990. She has penned video scripts, instructional manuals, white papers and abstracts. She has also ghostwritten diabetes journals. Edwards is a scuba instructor and Usui and Karuna Reiki teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Saint Joseph’s University.


  • driving 4 image by Andrzej Borowicz from

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