International Driving Permit?

Old Jun 5th, 2022, 06:39 PM
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International Driving Permit?

We have rental car reservations in France with Enterprise and Alamo. I have a Kentucky drivers license and of course my passport. Do I need an International Driving Permit to drive around the area between Bordeaux and Sarlat? The rental car companies give no guidance. Thanks.
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Old Jun 5th, 2022, 07:05 PM
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IDPs are not required in France
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Old Jun 5th, 2022, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
IDPs are not required in France

Really? This information from the French Government may be of interest:

Si vous venez en France pour un court séjour

Le permis de conduire étranger doit remplir les 2 conditions suivantes
  • Être valide
  • Être rédigé en français ou être accompagné d'une traduction officielle ou d'un permis de conduire international (sauf pour le permis britannique)
https://www.service-public.fr/partic...scription=true


Basically, either an offical translation or an IDP is required. Not sure what the penalty might be.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 02:29 AM
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Always look to official sources for answers to questions like this. Here, in English, is what the French government says, a link suggested in the US Department of State travel website:
https://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article376

An IDP is cheap, and you can usually obtain it on the spot from an AAA office, so there is no reason not to have one.
https://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 04:24 AM
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I believe the IDP is required, at least officially, in all of the EU. As Sarastro says, it's cheap and convenient to get. An official translation is probably expensive and difficult to get. (At least this is true in Italy, where I had to get official translations of some documents. )

As noted in Sarastro's post, the IDP is not a driver's license. It must be carried along with your valid Kentucky license.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 07:14 AM
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I believe the IDP is required, at least officially, in all of the EU
No, there are several countries that specifically authorize US licenses alone and it's written into the law (Norway and Iceland are examples where I have found the law online, I realize these 2 are not precisely in the EU but very close to it).

JanisJ is completely correct here, you can skip it. There is no enforcement against Americans, ever, it's never happened that an issue for an American without an IDP has come up in France. People scour the internet for things to fuss and worry about and the IDP in France is one of those, and frankly posting laws never enforced against Americans is unhelpful: what matters is people's experiences, and there have been no issues for Americans. The first time I drove in France I showed an IDP while renting a car and the guy laughed at it, to put it in local perspective. I think the fact the Rick Steves does not recommend it for France is telling. https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-ti...r-requirements

Aside: It's not widely written about but most US states and Canadian provinces have gone to Europe-compatible driver licenses and Kentucky is no exception. Those single digit numbers before the fields do everything that an IDP does, assign US license fields to the European numeric code system. Even in Italy or Spain your license should be ready to go. I wish California and New York would make their licenses compatible with the Vienna Convention.


Last edited by tom_mn; Jun 6th, 2022 at 07:43 AM.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 07:17 AM
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An IDP is simply a translation of your drivers license, at least the four I got over the years were.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 07:45 AM
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An IDP is simply a translation of your drivers license
I think if you had actually paged through it you would see that it is not a translation. It can't be, because the same IDP is used for every US license irrespective of the wording of each state's license.

For anyone's interest, here is the document coordinating American licenses into the format used in Europe, which should make any IDP requirement obsolete for Americans holding licenses from states that go that way.

https://www.aamva.org/getmedia/99ac7...n-Standard.pdf

Last edited by tom_mn; Jun 6th, 2022 at 07:57 AM.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 08:25 AM
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The Kentucky driver's licence uses the international format of numbered items and is therefore one of the modern American states which does not require an IDP since the numbers replace any need for a translation.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 08:26 AM
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I believe there has been a subtle change of wording regarding an IDP in France. As I recall it was recommended, but not required, for US license holders to have an IDP, now they are saying to have a notarised translation of the license in French or an IDP. I would guess the notarised translation would cost more than the $20 AAA charges for an IDP.

As I wrote in reply #4, “An IDP is cheap, and you can usually obtain it on the spot from an AAA office, so there is no reason not to have one.” If an IDP is required in France, it’s for driving a vehicle, not for renting one — no wonder the rental guy laughed.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 09:03 AM
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no wonder the rental guy laughed.
This is a spurious comment because not being rented to by the agency and thus screwing up the trip is the number one risk of not having an IDP, as noted here https://liveandletsfly.com/avis-germany-problems/
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 10:02 AM
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All the more reason for having an IDP. Thank you. 😉

Last edited by Heimdall; Jun 6th, 2022 at 10:04 AM.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 10:08 AM
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The article is not easy to draw conclusions from.

First off the author is from California so we know the license in question does not have the EU numbers on it. If you look up German driving law on line (it's posted in English like Norway and Iceland) you will see that just the EU numbers is enough to satisfy German law.

The actual content of the article doesn't add up for me. Say the 20 rentals in Germany occurred over 8 years.

8 IDPs @ $50 with photos and 2 hours time is $400 and 16 hours, plus the hassle of another thing to keep track of and pack. It's not worth it to me getting the IDPs and paying all that money upfront to ultimately avoid a 2-1/2 hour detour to Stuttgart.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 11:30 AM
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Those aren't "EU numbers" in the international format, but the international system. If you look at images of driver's licences from places like Zambia or Argentina, you will see the same system. The whole point is to eliminate any need for an IDP.

I would imagine that the US states that have not yet adopted this format have a very strong auto club lobby which wants to keep cashing in.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 01:14 PM
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Tom_mn, where do you get the $50 for an IDP? According to the AAA website the IDP costs only $20, and as I recall that’s what I paid the last time I bought one. That’s a negligible amount for a one time trip, and well worth it to avoid possible problems. Now I have a British drivers license.
https://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html

At any rate, the French government says US license holders should have an IDP to drive in France, so who should we believe?
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 06:59 PM
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I have never had to produce my IDP. But I was glad I had it in Portugal. I lost my wallet with my driver's license to a pickpocket, but the rental agency let me have the car with me producing my passport and IDP. It was Europcar and I had been a customer in past years, but only once in Portugal 12 years before.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 07:15 PM
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so who should we believe?
On one side we have Rick Steves and the 5 million Americans who have rented a car in France without an IDP and without any issues, on the other side we have some people who did an internet search.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 10:48 PM
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As I said in the first post, look for official sources. I’ve bought IDPs from AAA in the past, and confirmed with a search that the fee is $20, not $50 as you stated.

Last edited by Heimdall; Jun 6th, 2022 at 11:07 PM.
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Old Jun 7th, 2022, 02:58 AM
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Originally Posted by tom_mn View Post
On one side we have Rick Steves and the 5 million Americans who have rented a car in France without an IDP and without any issues, on the other side we have some people who did an internet search.
The fact five million people have gotten away with something doesn't mean the next person will. I'm curious where you get such a specific number?

The worst case isn't getting refused by the rental company or getting a fine. It's getting into an accident and the insurance company washing its hands of you.
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Old Jun 7th, 2022, 05:50 AM
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JanisJ is completely correct here, you can skip it. There is no enforcement against Americans, ever, it's never happened that an issue for an American without an IDP has come up in France. People scour the internet for things to fuss and worry about and the IDP in France is one of those, and frankly posting laws never enforced against Americans is unhelpful: what matters is people's experiences, and there have been no issues for Americans. The first time I drove in France I showed an IDP while renting a car and the guy laughed at it, to put it in local perspective. I think the fact the Rick Steves does not recommend it for France is telling. https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-ti...r-requirements

Aside: It's not widely written about but most US states and Canadian provinces have gone to Europe-compatible driver licenses and Kentucky is no exception. Those single digit numbers before the fields do everything that an IDP does, assign US license fields to the European numeric code system. Even in Italy or Spain your license should be ready to go. I wish California and New York would make their licenses compatible with the Vienna Convention.[/QUOTE]



Tom, I've never been busted for renting an unregistered apartment in france, so in my experience, no one should worry about it? I know it is a law, but my experience should guide, no?

Between Tom, Rick Steves and the French Embassy in Washington D.C., I'll take the French Embassy's word:

"If you come to France for a short stay: Stay of less than 185 days (6 months) because, beyond that, you are considered to have your normal residence in France(for holidays for example), you can drive with your non- European license: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Poland , Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden.

The foreign driving license must meet the following 2 conditions:
  • be valid
  • Be written in French or be accompanied by an official translation or an international driving license (except for the British license)
If you wish to obtain the translation in France, you must contact a certified translator ."

https://www.service-public.fr/partic...osdroits/F1459
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