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My partner is a Chinese citizen studying in the UK. We're planning on holidaying in Sardinia and would like to rent a car there. She can drive and holds a Chinese Driving License. Having spoken to some car companies they suggest she needs an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a translation of her license to be able to rent a car there.

How can she get an IDP since China is not a member, and where can she translate her license?

  • TL;DR: they can get a UK license and then get an IDP issued by the UK. – xuq01 Feb 17 at 8:01
  • seems a rather long way to go about doing it, since a straight Chinese to UK conversion isn't possible. They'd have to do the UK theory and practical exams. – Jarede Feb 17 at 11:37
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IDPs are issued by countries (or their in-country agents) that have adopted one or more of the several international Conventions on Road Traffic. (You can read more about the Conventions and IDPs in this Wikipedia article.) These conventions are international treaties between countries.

Translation isn't an issue: an IDP itself is and serves as a translation of the original license. This is particularly useful when the issuing country and destination country use different languages or different written script. With the IDP, local law enforcement (and car rental agencies) can determine if the license holder can legally drive.

The People's Republic of China has not adopted any of these conventions. Because China hasn't adopted a convention, China has no authority to issue an IDP to its license-holding citizens. Your friend cannot, therefore, obtain an IDP based on holding a Chinese drivers license.

Perhaps one of you can obtain a driver's license from a country that has adopted one of the conventions, and can therefore issue an IDP. If you can't, you will not be able to legally drive, nor rent a vehicle, on your Sardinian vacation.

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  • China do issue international drivers licenses am I missing something here? – Matt Douhan Feb 16 at 12:31
  • The info I've seen online from multiple sources is that China is not a signatory to the various conventions, and thus doesn't have the authority to issue IDPs under them. See the Wikipedia article cited in the answer, and internationaldrivingpermit.org/country/china – DavidSupportsMonica Feb 16 at 16:17
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Hopefully the car rental companies mean IDP or translation, because both should certainly not be required.

An International Driving Permit is not a translation in the linguistic sense. It is a document that certifies that the holder has a driving licence valid for one or more specified classes of vehicles. Unfortunately there is no organisation authorised to issue an IDP based on a Chinese driving licence. Similar documents available online are not valid and some may even be considered forgeries.

The alternative is a certified translation, traduzione giurata. The Chinese embassy in Italy might be able help you by either provide a certified translation or recommend an authorised translator. Perhaps the Italian embassy in the UK can help you find a translator in the UK that meets the legal criteria.

The Automobile Club d'Italia provides some information about documents for driving in Italy.

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  • The chinese auto department whatever they are called do issue international driver license, are we saying they are not valid? – Matt Douhan Feb 16 at 12:33
  • sixthtone.com/news/1003457/… If things have changed recently, that would be excellent news. Can you provide any details? – Arne Feb 16 at 15:06
  • I am going there tomorrow if they have opened after this virus incident, I need to renew my license so I will asan them – Matt Douhan Feb 16 at 17:10
  • I disagree. An IDP is indeed a "translation in the linguistic sense." An IDP contains multiple presentations of the original license's data in multiple languages and language scripts: licensee's name and identifying information, country of issue, and types of vehicles allowed to be driven. – DavidSupportsMonica Feb 16 at 17:58
  • @MattDouhan did you find out any extra information? – Jarede Feb 24 at 11:23

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