April 1, 2013
It is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most countries. Many countries do not recognize U.S. driver's licenses. Some, however, will accept an International Driving Permit. You can read additional information about auto insurance and International Driving Permits below. International Driving Permits may not be valid for the length of your stay abroad, and are often only valid if presented along with a valid U.S. or local license. So it is a good idea to plan ahead and check on the requirements for using your current license or qualifying for a local driver's license in the country you will be visiting or residing in. You should check with the Embassy of the country you plan to visit or reside in to find specific information about driver's license requirements. Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found on the Country Specific Information for each country as well as contact information for the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the country.
Car rental companies overseas can usually provide auto insurance, but in some countries, the required coverage is minimal. When renting a car overseas, consider purchasing additional insurance coverage that is at least equivalent to what you carry at home.
In general, your U.S. auto insurance does NOT cover you abroad; however, your policy may apply when you drive to countries neighboring the United States. Check with your insurer before you leave to see if your policy covers you in Canada, Mexico, or elsewhere.
Even if your policy is valid in a particular country, it may not meet that country's minimum requirements. If you are under-insured, you can usually purchase additional auto insurance in the United States or in your destination country.
International Driving Permits
Although many countries do not recognize U.S. driver's licenses, most countries accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP functions as an official translation of a U.S. driver's license into 10 foreign languages.
Before departure, you can obtain an IDP at a local office of one of the two automobile associations authorized by the U.S. Department of State:
To apply for an IDP, you must:
The cost of an IDP from these organizations is less than $20.00.
Tips on Driving Abroad