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I have a S. Korean license to drive a manual car, and I want to prove it is such to someone who only speaks English. I want to confirm that the absence of a mention of "automatic only" on the IDP is proof that I have a licence to drive a car with manual transmission.

As far as I am aware there is no distinction made on the international driving permit as to whether the driver can drive manual or not - so are you required to be able to drive manual to get one issued?

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An International Driving Permit can be issued with “restrictive conditions of use”, which according to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is (see page 74 in link above):

For example: “Must wear corrective lenses”, “Valid only for driving vehicle No. .…”, “Vehicle must be equipped to be driven by a one-legged person”.

The image below shows an IDP with text in Spanish. The third tickbox is for automatic transmission only.

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  • That's interesting, thank you. My IDP is a 1949 convention one (from S. Korea). Do you know if with the 1949 convention IDP, it would list being 'Automatic only' in the exemptions? My situation is a bit more complex than I let on with the question actually - I thought phrasing the question this way would make things simpler. I have a S. Korean license to drive a manual car, and I want to prove it is such to someone who only speaks English. I want to confirm that the absence of a mention of "automatic only" on the IDP is proof that I have a licence to drive a car with manual transmission. – Drivingquestion Feb 20 at 21:14
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    Your South Korea license allows you to drive a manual-shift car. If you obtain an IDP in South Korea, the "third tick-box" (that, if ticked, restricts the driver to an automatic transmission vehicle) will not be ticked, and you will not be restricted to an automatic transmission vehicle. Isn't that what you want? – DavidSupportsMonica Feb 21 at 15:41
  • The image above is a 1968 convention IDP - the 1949 one doesn't have those tick boxes, and only 5 categories of vehicle. – Drivingquestion Feb 22 at 21:31
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Which government issued your actual domestic drivers license? The international drivers licenses issued to US citizens before they leave the US to travel abroad will not have a statement to “allow” the driving of a manual vehicle. That is because you are not issued your home drivers license with such an allowance. When you receive your actual drivers license, it automatically allows you to drive manual or automatic regardless if you have experience with a manual transmission. If you are restricted due to health or disability, it will only show that restriction.

As an American renting cars overseas, I have been asked by the rental agencies if I can drive manual. They ask because it is neither on my international nor my domestic license. They also ask because it is increasingly uncommon for Americans to know how to drive manual. Automatic transmissions are ubiquitous in the US. Some even consider automatic transmissions to be “standard”. Some foreign car manufacturers have stopped importing manual transmissions to the US. In recent years, I have had to special order manual transmission cars directly from the factory. Even having a valet park my manual transmission car has been a problem.

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  • Dean F, there are more people who live outside the USA than inside and many of those live in countries where you are not allowed to drive a stick car unless you passed a test driving such a car. – Willeke Feb 20 at 18:46
  • @Willeke - Which is why I asked where was the domestic license issued. This answer would apply to almost 400,000,000 of the world’s population. It all depends on the poster’s specific situation. And yes, I am aware of how some other countries (not all) issue their licenses – Dean F. Feb 20 at 19:09
  • I don’t think this answers the question. The question is about whether someone whose licence does limit them to automatic cars can get an IDP. Manifestly, this doesn’t apply to American licence holders. – MJeffryes Feb 20 at 19:43
  • My full situation is a bit more complex than I let on with the question actually - I thought phrasing the question this way would make things simpler. I have a S. Korean license to drive a manual car, and I want to prove it is such to someone who only speaks English. I want to confirm that the absence of a mention of "automatic only" on the IDP is proof that I have a licence to drive a car with manual transmission. – Drivingquestion Feb 20 at 21:18
  • @Willeke It's a bit more complicated than that. For example in the UK you can drive any car if you have a foreign driving licence (though national hire car companies will make sure you know how to drive a manual if you are from certain countries) but if you move to the UK permanently and need to exchange your foreign licence for a UK licence, that may be restricted to automatics only unless you take a UK driving test in a manual car. – alephzero Feb 21 at 0:12

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