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TL;DR: Which IDP version is needed in South Africa and Mauritius for an European?

Long version: I live in Austria and today I went to the local authorities (ÖAMTC), which are allowed to give me an International Driving Permit (IDP). I need an IDP for the countries South Africa and Mauritius. They told me, that there are 3 different IDP's (one from 1926, one from 1949 and one from 1968) and not every country accepts every IDP. So they gave me the oldest one from 1926, because due to their data, this is the only one Mauritius accepts. The lady on the counter also told me that according to their data, South Africa accepts every IDP, so this should work for South Africa too. Afterwards I googled a bit and I didn't find any official sources which state which IDP can be used where, but over all it seems to me that it's a bit different then the lady at the counter said. For instance on Wikipedia it's written that the 1926 IDP can't be used in South Africa. Does anybody have experience, which IDP is the "right" one for me? Maybe somebody has an official statement from the local authorities for one or (best case) both countries?

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According to Avis in Mauritius:

At the time of rentals, the driver must present a valid drivers license in the drivers name from their country of residence. Customers presenting a drivers license in a non-Roman alphabet must also present an International Driving Permit (IDP) to serve as a translation in addition to their valid drivers license.

So an IDP is only needed if your driving license was issued in a non-Roman alphabet, which won't be the case for Austria.

Likewise Avis in South Africa says:

At the time of rentals, the driver must present a valid drivers license in the drivers name from their country of residence. Customers presenting a drivers license in a non-Roman alphabet must also present an International Driving Permit (IDP) to serve as a translation in addition to their valid drivers license.

So no IDP is needed for South Africa either. Compare this to Avis in Tokyo:

You will need your passport and International Driving Permit (IDP), recognized under the Geneva Convention. The IDP must have an expiry date of one year after issue. It will be valid in Japan one year after entering the country (immigration stamp).IDP recognized under the Paris Convention (1926), Washington Convention (1943), Vienna Convention (1968) are not permitted in Japan. *IDP issued in Japan will not be accepted. If you hold a driving permit from Switzerland, Germany, France, Taiwan, Belgium, Slovenia, Monaco, you may use your driving permit in Japan for one year after arrival, as long as you provide a Japanese translation of the permit. Please bring both documents and passport to our store.

As you can see, the Avis website is well up to date on the local requirements, so if Mauritius or South Africa actually required an IDP to be used by foreign drivers, they'd have made this a requirement for renting a car from them.

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  • Thank you for the hint with the car rental sites, I looked up the south african AVIS site which states the following: Foreign driver license can be used, if the license is in English, has a photo and a signature on it. If the language on the license isn't English (which it isn't in my case, it's in German) an IDP should be used. According to this, I need an IDP?! Jun 15, 2023 at 7:44
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    @Stonecutter good point, I'm pretty sure you're still good to go but you can call Avis in South Africa to double check. I think they meant "Roman alphabet" rather than "English" so it's just a local website getting it wrong.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 15, 2023 at 8:38
  • It's a bit annoying, every site I look at says something different. Europecar for instance says that an IDP is necessary for SA. Woodford also says an IDP is needed when the license is not in English. So even if I call them and they tell me I need an IDP, I still don't know if my IDP from 1926 is sufficient. Such an intransparent topic... Jun 15, 2023 at 9:49

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