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Does a driver from the US need and international driver's license to drive lawfully in France?

Does a driver from the US need and international driver's license to drive lawfully in France?

Old May 1st, 2004, 06:07 PM
  #1  
cmt
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Does a driver from the US need and international driver's license to drive lawfully in France?

I'm not asking whether I can get away without having one, or whether a rental agency cares. I'd like to do what's required and not take any chances.
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Old May 1st, 2004, 06:12 PM
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You do not need an international driver's license to drive in France. All you need is your permit from whatever US state you live in to drive in France.
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Old May 1st, 2004, 09:37 PM
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No, you do not. But keep in mind that the IDP (it's a Permit, not a License) is really nothing more than a translation of your American license. If you get into an accident, it can be useful, as it will speed up the paperwork after the accident.
That said, I never get one.
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Old May 1st, 2004, 10:39 PM
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No and rental agencies in France have never asked me for one.
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 12:02 AM
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Not needed for France but that they are required in Italy (not that everyone gets one.)
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 03:57 AM
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much more important for spain than italy (where i've never been asked for an idl).
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 04:39 AM
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I have to go along with St.C on this one -- even if it's not technically required, an official international translation of your license could come in very handy in case of a traffic accident or other incident.
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 04:41 AM
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It is not required, but there are advantages of having one handy, particularly if driving in rural areas. I always get one and, although have never been asked for one at the moment of renting the car, I have used it in Italy, Spain, France and The Netherlands. In Italy, Spain, and The Netherlands we were asked to hand over a Driver License during what appeared to be routine traffic check-up. We handed over the IDP, no questions were asked, apparently the policeman understood all he needed from the IDP. In Italy, the policeman kindly noted to us that if he had seen the need to take away our license, he would had just taken the IDP. In France, we drove the wrong way for about 50 feet and were stopped by the traffic police. My husband handed over the IDP, the policemen looked at us with an understanding loook, told my husband to be more careful and let us go. No questions asked. Well worth the $10 at AAA (free, including the photo, is you are a Deluxe Member; $60/yr).
 
Old May 2nd, 2004, 05:17 AM
  #9  
cmt
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Thanks, everyone. It sounds like it might be worth getting if it's not too difficult, and since I'm an AAA member, I guess it won't be. This will be the first time driving in a foreign country for both me and my travel companion, so we might as well be extra-careful about it all.
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 05:41 AM
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The IDP is also a handy extra piece of identification. Instead of leaving your passport for security or ID, show your IDP for minor unofficial things, like renting a bike. If you have extra passport photos on hand bring them along when you go to the AAA to save some money on new photos.

While you are at the AAA getting your IDP, also pick up the AAA "Europe TravelBook" and a map of France. Since you say this is the first time you are driving in France, also buy a copy of the AA (British Automobile Association) book "Motoring in Europe" which is (was?) sold by the AAA. It is essential reading for newbie drivers in Europe, especially regarding road signs.

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Old May 2nd, 2004, 09:26 AM
  #11  
rex
 
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This thread is such a classic example of all the reasons to love - - and to roll one's eyes, at this forum - - and why questions should always be asked HERE on the forum, and not by private e-mail inquiries.

There was a succinct answer to the question on the very first reply. Then a confirmation; then several tangential answers; then answers that expanded "yes, but..." giving answers which do not actually dispute the factual info, but offer some different perspective(s) - - (opinions that I do not personally share, incidentally) - - and THEN, a follow-up from the original poster, clarifying that even though she asked for the facts, she planned to go with the personal opinions, contrary to the facts she asked for, as they apparently resonated with her.

And then, one more tangential perspective just for good measure.

This kind of cross-eamination just doesn't happen in privately e-mailed answers to individual questions.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 09:46 AM
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And Rex, this whole thing could've been avoided if she just decided to stay home!
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 10:01 AM
  #13  
cmt
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<<and THEN, a follow-up from the original poster, clarifying that even though she asked for the facts, she planned to go with the personal opinions, contrary to the facts she asked for,>>

Rex, to be accurate, I will point out to you that the "opinions" re the possible practical benefits of getting the international permit, although it isn't required, were not "contrary to" the facts at all. They simply supplemented the facts. What I did not want was a bunch of replies telling me that I could ignore the legal requirement (if there was one) because rental agencies never ask and I'll never get caught. I did not get that. What I got--both the bare facts and the opinions--was all helpful.

Actually I could've asked the same thing in an e-mail to someone likely to give a good answer, in order to avoid getting a string of inappropriate or wrong answers on Fodors, but didn't feel like it. And as it turns out, in this instance, all the answers were very appropriate.
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 10:26 AM
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rex
 
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I wasn't trying to be argumentative...

I'll repeat what I said, to start...

<<This thread is such a classic example of all the reasons to love>>>

You got info you wanted. It appead that this was a simple question and answer in two posts, but it is the nature of Fodorites to "not leave it alone". There are all these different perceptions of "what did she mean?" and "I think this is how you should look at it".

It's what is great about this forum. I posted my two cents worth as an illustrative case, for newbies to read - - who think that their best option is to write to ME with "a simple question, seeking one answer from one person".

I hope your inaugural driving experience is great.
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Old May 2nd, 2004, 06:24 PM
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How come no one went on a rant about AAA getting rich off of $10 IDPs?
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