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International driving permit required in France?

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Jun 8th, 2014, 02:22 PM
  #1
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International driving permit required in France?

Does France require an international driving permit? I have a US driver's license so I assume that neither the UK nor Ireland would require one since English is the common language? Appreciate any advice.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 02:26 PM
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As of about a year ago, yes, the IDP is required in France.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 02:32 PM
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This question generates a lot of disagreement as I recall. I don't know about actual law, but I know the French Embassy recommend you get one on their US website. It is a small fee, so I would given they recommend it. I think the naysayers say that it is not legally required in France and most French police who might stop you wouldn't care. I don't know, as I said, it is a small fee and easy to get, so I personally plan to get one the next time I rent a car there.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 02:41 PM
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Recommended http://www.ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article376
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Jun 8th, 2014, 02:47 PM
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Our rental car company's fine print said we have to have one to rent their car in July, so we got 'em last week. The AAA clerk said for sure it was the law in Italy and one other country (forgot, maybe Spain?), but not in France ... so who knows?

When we pick up the car I'm gonna play dumb (shouldn't be difficult) and say we don't have it and see if they'll still give us the rental, just out of curiosity. If they demand it we'll show it but I want to see what they'll do if a paying customer comes to the counter without it.

Will report back the results
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Jun 8th, 2014, 02:49 PM
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Our rental said we needed one. They did not ask to see it upon collection of the vehicle, but for a small price I would not take a chance travelling without it.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 03:00 PM
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Rental agencies aren't required to inform you whether you need an IDP or not, and often don't even know if it's required. I've never been asked for an IDP at a rental counter in Italy or France or Austria (where it's also required, I believe), and I've rented boatloads of cars. It's up to you to know what you need. That's why I posted the link to the law.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 03:34 PM
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How do you go about getting one?
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Jun 8th, 2014, 03:54 PM
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go to AAA
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Jun 8th, 2014, 07:05 PM
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Unless you're stopped by a cop who asks for one.

Is your French good enough to convince him that he really doesn't need to see one - and what you are saying is your valid license isn't a state park ID card?
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Jun 8th, 2014, 10:39 PM
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It is the law in Italy and Austria.

No other EU country requires an IDP.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 11:24 PM
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Wrong, kerouac! Greece, for one, requires an IDP. You are correct about France, though. Legally in France a driver with a US license doesn't require an IDP, but it is recommended to have one.

The requirement for an IDP (where one is required) is for driving a vehicle, not for renting one. The rental agency doesn't have to check, but if you are stopped by the police or have an accident you are on your own.

An IDP costs only $15 at any AAA office, and takes only a few minutes, so why not go ahead and get one? Bring your valid US license and two passport photos. If you don't have passport photos they will take them at the AAA office for a small extra charge.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 11:47 PM
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I have a cousin who is a gendarme (= highway patrol and rural police, not to be confused with city police as so many people seem to do). He has assured me that he and his colleagues do not have the slightest interest in seeing anything other than the official licence in the possession of any driver. Just like when I worked at Avis, they have a data base on their screens that can decode just about any licence in the world and determine if it is a valid model. (Of course in my Avis days, it was a big ring binder, but luckily we only ever needed to look about about 3 or 4 pages out of a hundred -- I remember using it for a Korean licence myself.) Anybody who has ever been stopped by the police or the gendarmerie in France knows that they normally just ask for ID because they have no interest in listening to any sort of excuse that you might want to tell them. They go and consult their computer which will know if you are wanted for anything in France. If you are in a rental car, they know that your licence is valid, because you would not have been able to rent the car otherwise. Bureaucracy has its limits, believe it or not!

Amusingly enough, I was stopped by the police recently for the first time in about 30 years, just walking around, and wouldn't you know it? -- it was also the first time in about 5 years that I had gone out with any ID on me. They asked me my name, date of birth, address and telephone number and checked it all out in the data base. After a brief admonishment for not having my ID, they wished me a good day and I was on my way.

I don't know what kind of country some of you live in, but in France the police are not out to get you, and even if you have done something wrong, their mission is to put on back on the right track, not to fine you or throw you in jail.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 11:52 PM
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Perhaps some of the rest of you would like to relate your personal anecdotes of your involvement with the French police. I wouldn't like to think that you are getting all of your information from the repetition of what your hairdresser's next door neighbor heard from her supermarket cashier.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 12:29 AM
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Kerouac, when I wrote "...but it is recommended to have one." I was merely passing on advice written in a US State Department website: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/fr...is-driving.pdf

I believe travellers should follow official advice in preference to that from other posters on travel websites. That said, I never had an IDP when driving in France on my US license. Happily I have no personal anecdote of involvement with French police, because I have never been stopped by them.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 12:34 AM
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Recommended is not the same as required, but, to be on the safe side, I just purchased the IDP from AAA for my trip to Eastern Europe, Istanbul and Stockholm (based on home exchanges hence the strange itinerary). I have a car with one exchange in Warsaw, but the others are in major cities without a car. Just in case I want to rent a car anywhere, I thought it best to have the permit. You do not want to be in a position where you can't do something you want to do just because you lack the the IDP. Cost was $15 plus the cost of the photos (similar to passport photos).
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Jun 9th, 2014, 07:15 AM
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kerouac: Be that as it may . . . as the link StCirq provided, it IS the law that an IDP is required. This is a recent change. You've advocated your position in the past - but the law is the law. While your cousin may not care one way or the other, IF there is an accident and the driver does not have the legally required IDP, since they would be driving 'illegally', the car rental company (or cc) would be completely w/i their rights to void the insurance. And trust me - if an American co has the opportunity to deny a claim they will.

So continue to pooh pooh the need for IDPs, but how would you feel when some poor schmoe who listened to you has to fork out the cost of a major repair . . .
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Jun 9th, 2014, 07:15 AM
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We've never been stopped, and about half the time have gotten the IDPs. We're going to get them this year for our trip to France, but wait until close to the time we're departing so that they'll still be in effect early next year in case our planned trip to Spain takes place.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 07:35 AM
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"We're going to get them this year for our trip to France, but wait until close to the time we're departing so that they'll still be in effect early next year in case our planned trip to Spain takes place."

Just FYI, they let us put a July start date on ours even though we got it in early June. No problem declaring the date you want it to start being valid.

An IDP costs only $15 at any AAA office, and takes only a few minutes, so why not go ahead and get one?

Well, it's a bit of a waste of money and time getting it (long lines at our AAA office - who knew?), but what miffs me is it's only valid for a year so us frequent travelers have to get one annually. Why not let it remain valid for the duration of your driver's license?
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