I have an Australian (English language) drivers licence, but not an International Drivers Permit.

What consequences may occur as a result of driving a rental car in Austria without an International Drivers Permit?

  • 6
    This depend on rental car policies. They may require a international driver permit, so you may not get the car. On the other hand, the international permit is mostly used just to have standardized and understandable (language) items on permit. – Giacomo Catenazzi Sep 25 at 9:54
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    I know someone who rented a car in Austria without a IDP which is why I didn't ask about that. I've already left Australia and understand that I can't get an IDP while abroad. – WW. Sep 25 at 12:15
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    FYI don't forget to also pay for the Austrian "Highway Toll Sticker". Not having the toll sticker can fetch i think 300+ Euro penalty. – Trevor Boyd Smith Sep 25 at 17:22
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    @TrevorBoydSmith Rental cars usually have it already. – deviantfan Sep 25 at 18:53
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    @TrevorBoydSmith Neighbouring countries' rentals won't have the sticker, no. Only what's rented in Austria have them (usually) by default. – Mast Sep 26 at 8:25

Your Australian driver's licence is only valid in Austria together with an International Driver's Permit or with a translation issued by an authorized Austrian organization, e.g. ÖAMTC. If you are not able to get an IDP in Australia before you leave, it should be quite easy to get a translation from any of the ÖAMTC offices in Austria. They charge €14 for this service.

Driving without an IDP or a translation will be deemed as driving without a valid license. It is questionable wether the rental company will give you a car at all and if you are caught, the pentalties start with a 363€ fine for a first time offence. Repeating violations may bring you in jail. If you cause an accident, you must also expect the insurance to be void and you will have to cover own and third party damages yourself.

  • 26
    If anyone wonders about the odd amount of 363 €, that's 5.000 Austrian Schilling (the pre-2002 currency) in Euro. Looks like the fines haven't been raised for a while... – Heinzi Sep 25 at 11:13
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    As for driving without a license - I don't see how this is different from simply forgetting your license at home. Your license is in fact valid for Austria and it is valid even without the IDP. All the IDP does is provide an official translation into several languages. Furthermore I'd wager that all Austrian policemen speak fluent English and could read your license without the IDP. – JonathanReez Sep 25 at 16:37
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    @JonathanReez I had wondered if in practice Austrian police speak fluent English and would have no trouble with my licence. But I also wondered if in the event of an accident my travel insurance might not pay, etc. – WW. Sep 25 at 16:48
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    According to my online reading/research, the Austrian rental car companies and police were strict in requiring the IDP and so I got one for my recent trip in 2018. – Trevor Boyd Smith Sep 25 at 17:25
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    @VasilyAlexeev The source is the relevant Austrian law, which has already been quoted here in another answer. The difference between the Russian and the Australian licence is that the Russian document follows international conventions on layout and content, while the Australian does not. This has nothing to do with EU vs non-EU origin. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 26 at 12:00

An International Driving Permit is required by law for Australians in Austria, it does not depend on rental companies' policies in this case.

Source 1: Austrian National Tourist Office

An international drivers license is required and can easily be obtained from your local auto club. The major U.S. rental companies are represented in Austria as are a range of European firms. Many credit cards offer free supplemental rental car insurance, which might let you save on optional car insurance. Check with your credit card company.

Source 2: DriveAway Holidays, an Australian self-drive company working in Austria

Source 3: Austrian Embassy in Washington (there was no information on the Canberra embassy's site)

  • 1
    Note: first link is just about US people (I assume). It is so bad that they do no specify the country. Not all countries needs the international permit. – Giacomo Catenazzi Sep 26 at 6:46
  • My question is: what happens if you don't have one? – WW. Sep 27 at 15:08

According to Hertz car rental in Vienna airport:

For all Non-European Union renters an International Driving Permit (IDP) is highly recommended. For renters from the US and Canada it is required.

According to Avis Vienna airport:

Additionally, all driving licenses printed in a non-Roman alphabet must be accompanied by a valid International Driving Permit (IDP). Both forms of documentation must be issued to the same person, in the same name, and presented together at the time of rental.

Likewise according to Sixt Vienna airport:

Driver's licenses from non-EU countries (except Switzerland) are accepted if:

  • no visa has been entered in the passport.
  • the customer has a visa in his passport and at the time of hire has not been in Europe for longer than 6 months. If he has been in Europe for longer than 6 months, he must present a driver's license from an EU country.

Driver's license printed with non Roman Alphabet (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Cyrillic etc) must be complemented by an international driver's license.

For driver's licenses from countries not part of the international driver's license treaty, an official translation of the license must be presented with the original license.

Compare this to Hertz in Narita airport:

Japanese law requires that all drivers who do not hold a Japanese driver’s license must hold a country of origin driver's license and an international driving permit issued under the 1949 convention on international road traffic. No other International Driver Permit will be accepted for rentals in Japan.

Or to Sixt Australia:

The renter and all approved drivers must be in possession of a full, valid driving licence for at least one year. Furthermore, the following conditions apply depending on the issuing country of the driving licence.

International renters/drivers also need an international driver's license and a valid passport.

This leads me to believe that in practice, an IDP is not required to rent and drive a car in Austria with an Australian license. If it was, all the rental companies would insist on it in their T&Cs.

  • 2
    The Hertz rental conditions in German (from Vienna Airport) say something different: 'Alle Anmieter aus Nicht-EU Ländern benötigen zusätzlich zum gültigen nationalen Führerschein eine internationale Fahrerlaubnis (IDP). ' or in English: 'All renters from non-EU countries require in addition to their valid national driver's licence an IDP.' I honestly don't understand how to change the language of the Hertz web page to English. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 25 at 18:56
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I would trust the English version more since its an American company. I can see the English version here: hertz.com/rentacar/reservation/reviewmodifycancel/templates/… – JonathanReez Sep 25 at 18:57
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    Sixt Australia is contradicting themselves if you continue the quote with one more sentence: 'International renters/drivers also need an international driver's license and a valid passport. Driving license printed with non Roman Alphabet (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Cyrillic etc) must be complemented by an International driving licence.' I am not convinced that self-contradicting rental terms and conditions, even with differences depending on the chosen language, are a very reliable source. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 25 at 19:22
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I will try emailing Hertz at Vienna airport and see what they say. – JonathanReez Sep 25 at 20:28
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    @JonathanReez On several occasions I have found the English versions of German websites(not specifically car rental ones) to be inaccurate or out of date resulting from translation using google translate. I would trust the native language version more. – Tejas Kale Sep 26 at 12:45

Quote from the Austrian Führerscheingesetzt (Law for divers licences).
For the original text in german, see below.
The translations are mine, I am not a lawyer nor a legal translator of any sort.

Foreign drivers licences § 23

Sections 1 to 4 only concern persons with residence in Austria and are therefore not relevant.

Section 5 states that the person must at least 18 years old. And must not stay more than 12 months in austria.

(6) As proof of a permit for driving the according national drivers licence must be present. If it is not (also) written in german and does not conform to the exemplary from attachment 9 of the geneva convention or the contents of attachments 1 or 1a of the policy 91/439/EWG, ABl. Nr. 237 from August 24. 1991, version 97/26/EWG, and does not conform to the requirements of attachment 6 of the Vienna convention, the drivers licence must be accompanied by an international dirvers licence based on a convention mentioned in section 5 or with a translation by an authorized association (based on § 36 section 2 Z 3) or a foreign representation of the issuing country.

I tried to keep the translation as verbatim as possible. Any improvment are welcome.

Conclution: You need to check which, if any, conventions the Australian divers licences follow. I recommend you check with one of your local car associations. They usually know the relevant regulation for travellers and can also point driving rules that are different from your home country you have to watch out for.


Orignal text in german

Ausländische Lenkberechtigungen § 23

Absatz 1 bis 4 betreffen Personen mit Wohnsitz in Österreich und sind hier nicht relevaten.

Absatz 5 besagt, dass die Person mindestens 18 Jahre alt sein muss, und sich nicht länger als 12 Monate in Österreich aufhalten darf.

(6) Als Nachweis für die Lenkberechtigung muss der entsprechende nationale Führerschein vorliegen. Wenn dieser nicht auch in deutscher Sprache abgefasst ist und auch nicht dem Muster des Anhangs 9 zum Genfer Abkommen oder den Inhalten des Anhangs 1 oder 1a der Richtlinie 91/439/EWG, ABl. Nr. 237 vom 24. August 1991 in der Fassung 97/26/EWG, entspricht und auch nicht die Anforderungen des Anhangs 6 zum Wiener Übereinkommen erfüllt, muss der Führerschein zugleich mit einem internationalen Führerschein nach einer der in Abs. 5 angeführten Vereinbarungen oder mit einer von einem gemäß § 36 Abs. 2 Z 3 ermächtigten Verein oder einer ausländischen Vertretungsbehörde des Ausstellungsstaates verfassten Übersetzung vorgewiesen werden können.

  • 3
    It is not relevant nor required by the law that Australia is a signatory of the Geneva Convention. The requirement is that the foreign driver's licence must adhere to the specifications in annex 9 of the convention and Australian licences do not. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 26 at 10:02
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo: I wrongly assumed that, as Australia did sign the convention, the Australian drivers licences would adhere the to specifications. I have edited my concultion accordingly. – raznagul Sep 26 at 10:09

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