International Driving Permit

International Driving PermitMany people mistakenly call an International Driving Permit (IDP) an International Driver's License. Their belief is that the IDP allows them to drive here at home and abroad, perhaps even when they do not hold a valid driver's license or they are prohibited from driving. Unscrupulous businesses exist that will sell what they hold out as being a valid international driver's license for significant sums of money without requiring proof that the applicant is licensed at all.

An IDP is really nothing more than a translation of your current driver's license into other languages for the convenience of the authorities in other countries when you travel. The Canadian IDP is translated into ten languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German, Arabic, Italian, Scandinavian and Portuguese. The IDP must be presented along with your current valid driver's license when demanded. Like a passport, IDP's are in booklet form and include a photo of the driver, their name, date of birth, along with a description of the types of vehicles they are permitted to operate.

In Canada, authority to issue an IDP has been given to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). The British Columbia Automobile Association is the provincial arm of the CAA and anyone aged 18 or older may apply to them for an IDP by filling out an online form, enclosing a photocopy of both sides of your current driver's license, two passport photos and a fee of $25. The IDP is intended for use outside of Canada and is valid for one year.

The provisions of the Convention on Road Traffic that created the IDP do not require the signatories to recognize learner-driver permits. If you hold a learner-driver permit it would be wise to check whether it will be accepted in the countries you intend to travel in before you drive there.

Reference Links:

Application for an International Driving Permit - BCAA web site
International Driving Permit - Wikipedia