Do I need an International Driving Permit to drive in the US? I have read that it depends on state to state. Suppose, for instance, that I need to rent a car in California. I have a valid Italian (or European) driving licence. Do I need to have an IDP to drive in California?

  • I got pulled over by the CHP and they don’t recognize IDPs it’s useless in California I got a ticket for not having a license and my car impounded.
    – Frank
    Sep 12, 2019 at 8:54

2 Answers 2


No, the International Driving Permit is not required for California.

See the information on the California Department of Motor Vehicles site: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/dl/dl_info#international

The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver license. California does recognize a valid driver license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (country, state, territory) of which the license holder is a resident.

The IDP is only a translation of information contained on a person's foreign driver license and is not required to operate a motor vehicle in California.

I have seen claims that some car rental companies will require an IDP. I doubt this would ever be an issue, as long as your driver's license is comprehensible to an English speaker, but you might want to check to confirm this.

  • "comprehensible to an English speaker" you mean, as long as it has its text in English.
    – Nobody
    Jun 17, 2018 at 7:36

My Italian office-mate held both a USA and Italian drivers license. When pulled over for speeding, which happened often, offering the Italian license usually made the cop too lazy to research what to do, so no ticket. Never a question about driving legally on the license.

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