Do you need an International Driver’s Permit when renting a car overseas? To answer this question, you will need to consider several factors. If you are traveling to a foreign country, it’s always advisable to be on the safe side of the law. That means getting one. But if you are pressed for time and cannot obtain one, you can contact the rental car company, for instance, Black Car Service Houston, and let them explain to you if it’s necessary or not.

Finding out if you require an International Driver’s License

Contact the rental car company

The simplest way to find out if an IDP is required to rent a car in a foreign country is by contacting the agency directly. Call or write an email to a representative from the company you intend to hire a vehicle from. The agency is in the best position to tell you their policy when it comes to requiring an IDP to rent an automobile from them.


  • Check to find out whether the law dictates that you have an IDP to be able to drive in that country. Although some companies will be ready to rent a car even if you don’t have an IDP, It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can drive in that country without one.
  • Conversely, the country you intend to travel to may not require an IDP legally, but your agency might.

Consider the country you are going to

 If you plan to travel to an English-speaking nation, chances are that your US driving license will just suffice. If yours is a business trip, think of where your organization does business and the countries you could be asked to go to. But if you are pleasure-traveling, you will know full well where you are going.


  • If you take a trip to an English-speaking country, you probably don’t need to apply for an IDP. For example, a US driving license holder can easily rent a car in Australia or Canada even if they don’t have an IDP.
  • In Japan, there is a rule that all foreign drivers have an IDP.
  • In Germany and France, you are allowed to drive with only your driver’s license. You only need to have to be in the company of notarized German or French translation.
  • 15 countries (Curacao, Croatia, Bahrain, Georgia, Lebanon, Namibia, Mauritius, Qatar, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Singapore, Brunei, Saudi Arabia, and Samoa) require an international driver’s license to rent a car.

Find out which countries require or don’t require an IDP

Some countries like Brazil and China among other countries don’t recognize the IDP. This means no one will ask you to produce it so long as it is not accepted there.

In Brazil and most South and Central American countries, you will need a similar document called the Inter-American Driving Permit. Therefore, when you want to rent a car in these countries, you will need to be armed with an IADP.

Choose the vehicle You Will be Hiring

Although many people think that the IDP is only necessary when you are driving or renting a regular passenger vehicle overseas, not many are aware that the IDP is required when driving other types of cars. Just beneath your identification information and above the permit, you will find a row of the options of vehicles. For you to get the IDP, you will require choosing at least one. At Black Car Service Houston, our representatives will tell you all the requirements you need to apply for an IDP.

  • Other than the passenger car, you may ask that your IDP covers driving vehicles that weigh more than 7,700 pounds. Others for which you may request to be covered by your IDP include heavy trailers and vehicles with more than 8 seats. You require a license to drive vehicles in the US as well as you will need when you are abroad.
  • An IDP also helps you to hire or drive a motorcycle. Just check the option of “motorcycle” above your signature to indicate that you want it to cover a motorcycle license in the United States.
  • Several nations don’t impose a license requirement for small-engine cars. An electric bike or a 50cc scooter, for example, doesn’t require a license to drive or rent in most Southeast Asian countries.

Obtaining the IDP

Gather the necessary paperwork

You will need to be armed with several important documents when you are applying for the IDP. Firstly, you are going to require your drivers’ license. Others include two passport-size photos and lastly you need to complete the IDP application form and provide a check that covers the application fee.


  • You can apply for an IDP with either your AAA or the National Auto Club.
  • Don’t apply to any organization or agency. There are lots of fraudulent IDP scammers out there who just want to fleece you.
  • Cash is not accepted, only checks.
  • Your driver’s license needs to be valid for a minimum of 6 months after the date of issuance of your IDP.

Apply for the International Driver’s Permit.

The IDP can be applied for in person or by mail. If you use mail, make sure you send your gathered documents to the right address. If you are applying with AAA, you can also leave your application at your nearest AAA office for it to be processed.

  • If it’s possible, drop your application in person as this allows you to get answers to any concerns or questions you may have.
  • Faxed or emailed applications are not accepted.

Check to see what other documents you need.

Carry your regular driver’s license

It’s easy to assume that just because you have obtained the IDP, you can proceed to rent a vehicle in the country that requires it. But you need to know that your IDP is in no way a substitute for your driver’s license but only supplements it. It’s a requirement to have both of them to rent as well as drive in another country.


Some countries require that you have an International Driver’s Permit to rent or drive a car in their jurisdictions, while some don’t. When purposing to travel to a foreign country, you should check first to ensure that it’s a requirement there. If not, they will usually require some other documents. The best thing is to call the guys at Black Car Service Houston for clarification about whether it will be needed or not.