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The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) are the only organizations that issue official International Driving Permit (IDP) for US driver licenses.

However, there exist some organizations that issue unofficial IDPs, such as:

Are such unofficial International Driving Permits of any use? I'm curious about both digital and physical unofficial IDPs.

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  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/441/…
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 20, 2021 at 3:18
  • I've got an official international drivers license 30+ years ago and, I've never it used for anything. My US license has always be sufficient, so I don't bring anything else.
    – Hilmar
    Sep 21, 2021 at 14:03
  • @Hilmar thanks good to know, I'm mostly concerned about insurance, car rental and police bribes if I don't have IDP. Sep 21, 2021 at 14:05

1 Answer 1

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There are two main reasons to get an IDP:

  1. You cannot legally drive a car in a foreign country without one (eg Japan).

  2. Rental agencies will not rent a car to you without one. Often the same set of countries as 1, but not always: for example, Malaysia no longer requires an IDP, but many agencies never got the memo and insist on one anyway.

A fake/unrecognized IDP will not qualify for reason 1, and you risk serious fines and potentially jail time for essentially driving without a license if caught by police.

For rental agencies, a convincing-looking fake IDP may well pass muster without exposing you to criminal penalties, so it could potentially be useful... except that if the T&C requires a real IDP, and you don't have one, this will invalidate any insurance. So I still wouldn't risk it.

All that said, a real IDP from the AAA costs only $20, while the fakes often cost much more -- the primary target audience seems to be people without ID at all, not tourists venturing overseas.

Here's the AAA and FTC on the topic: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/travel/aaa-warns-of-fake-international-driving-permits/

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  • Thanks! "All that said, a real IDP from the AAA costs only $20, while the fakes often cost much more -- the primary target audience seems to be people without ID at all, not tourists venturing overseas." -> another target audience is tourists already outside the US and wanting an IDP ASAP. Are digital unofficial IDPs of any use? Sep 20, 2021 at 2:25
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    Of course it should be noted that very few nations actually require an IDP for American license holders. Most of the time its only needed if your license is not in English.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 20, 2021 at 3:19
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    For Germany, with the exception of licences from EU, Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Senegal and Switzerland or holders of a IDP - a German translation is required. Fact sheet for holders of foreign driving licences from states outside the European Union and the European Economic Area on driving licence provisions in the Federal Republic of Germany Sep 20, 2021 at 7:00
  • @MarkJohnson: I've never had a problem with using my US license in Germany. I don't bring my German one anymore since it's big and unwieldy.
    – Hilmar
    Sep 21, 2021 at 14:00

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