Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

International driving permit required in France?

International driving permit required in France?

Old Jun 9th, 2014, 06:51 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
An IDP is merely an official translation of your license into French, which is all that the law requires. So if it miffs you to pay AAA every year, do your own translation of your license into French, get it notarized, and you're set for life.
StCirq is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 07:19 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,880
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
kerouac: <b>"Perhaps some of the rest of you would like to relate your personal anecdotes of your involvement with the French police."</b>

Well, they can be cruel ... here's my one and only experience.

Late one night in the heart of Paris I turned a corner near the government buildings and came face to face with an armed officer (police or military, I don't know). I almost bumped into him.

"Bonjour" I said (I took two semesters of French, I know a little).

He looked at me coldly, shook his head sadly and said "BonSOIR".

Still recovering from the humiliation.
Bill_H is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 07:37 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,179
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<i> do your own translation of your license into French, get it notarized, and you're set for life.</i>

Now that is sensible advise. However, I doubt anyone having an IDP will need to update this document on any recurring basis unless his license has changed. The law states, as I have read it, that a non EU license must be translated into French, not that it must be translated into French on some annual basis.
Sarastro is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 07:52 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,754
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
$27 of my trip budget went to this. Small potatoes when looking at the cost of our 2 weeks in France. I put it in my purse and if I am never asked for it so be it but I have peace of mind in the event it is needed.
trvlgirlmq is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 09:10 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,900
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I wouldn't want to bet that any French policeman would accept some translation of a US drivers license notarized by someone in the US. Why would they recognize that. That doesn't mean anything, a notary is merely testifying they saw you write something, not that it is accurate.

IDPs only cost $15 from AAA where I live (MidAtlantic Region).
Christina is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 09:14 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,814
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Nobody with an IDP will ever need to update or renew it because absolutely nobody will ever ask for it.

But feel free to enrich your local AAA. They have understood the scam and are thrilled that so many people fall for it.
kerouac is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 09:28 AM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 25,072
Received 4 Likes on 3 Posts
Anecdotal evidence is proof of nothing, but here's another story:

Last October, Avis in Reims wanted to see both our IDPs and U.S. drivers licenses during the rental process. A week later, near Bar le Duc, we were stopped in some sort of traffic/document checkpoint. We handed over the IDP and U.S. drivers license. The policeman handed the IDP back without even checking that the name on both documents was the same.
Jean is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 09:34 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,067
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I totally agree that the fact that the IDP expires after one year is a scam. The actual drivers license is good for five years. But going the on the theory (which I agree with) that insurance companies will use any excuse to deny a claim it seems like it is probably worth it to get one each year. Although I really wonder if you just changed the date if anyone would ever know.

I have NEVER been asked to show it upon renting a car, and most of the time speeding tickets, etc. are by a camera and they send you the ticket, don't actually stop you. But they COULD. And if you got in an accident that's when you might actually need it.

Last year when I went to get the IDP they rejected my photo because the background wasn't totally white (it's the same EXACT photo that's on my passport!!!!) and made me take another photo (for another $15). This year I brought the actual passport with me in case they didn't like the photo but this year the person said it was fine. Talk about a scam.
isabel is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 10:05 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,179
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<i>I wouldn't want to bet that any French policeman would accept some translation of a US drivers license notarized by someone in the US.</i>

Documents, such as Drivers Licenses, translated into French from some other language are notarized by someone recognized by the French government as capable. No one has said anything about a US notary.

A letter of translation is all that is asked for by this new requirement. An IDP is not necessary nor is a picture necessary. The requirement is that the license is translated, that´s all. There is an execution date on a translation but translations do not expire.
Sarastro is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 10:56 AM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,505
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
" The requirement is that the license is translated, that´s all."
It has to be translated by a certified and official translator. In other words, a translation notarized in the US will not be accepted.


Les documents étrangers doivent obligatoirement être accompagnés, pour l'accomplissement de certaines démarches administratives ou la reconnaissance de certains droits, de leur traduction par un traducteur agréé. On parle de traduction "certifiée" ou "officielle".

Vous pouvez obtenir la liste des traducteurs agréés auprès de votre mairie ou de votre cour d'appel. Vous pouvez également consulter cette liste sur leur site internet ou sur le site internet de la Cour de cassation.
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 11:18 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,814
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
When I exchanged my California licence for a French licence in 1974, I did the translation myself. It was accepted without question because really, how difficult can it be to understand things line "name" or "sex" or "birthdate"?

Some of you people amaze my in your gullibility.
kerouac is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 11:21 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 69
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<i>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?</i>

Because you think that a French policeman or a gendarme is necessarily stupid?
The police and gendarmerie exams now include a foreign language test. Besides you really don't need to be fluent to decipher a foreign driving licence.
Askar01 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 11:54 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I didn't mention anything about a U.S. notary, and neither did anyone else.
StCirq is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 12:45 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 76
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If the French requirement is that the driver's license must be translated it seems to me that the IDP isn't worth much
as all it "translates" is "1. Surname 2. Other names 3.Place of birth 4. Date of birth 5. Permanent place of residence" into French. It doesn't actually translate anything else. To be fair it also translates that my license is only valid for cars weighing less than 3500 kg(7700 lbs). That isn't even true as my license is valid for cars weighing up to 26,000 lbs

My driver's license includes height, weight, sex, issue date, expiration date which wouldn't be translated. Also place of birth is not on my driver's license.

Obviously, everyone is going to do what they think is best, but I am with Kerouac on this one.
cwra is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 02:16 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'd be sure of the following

1) If an IDP is required by law, then get one

2) If an IDP is not required by law and the rental agency requires one, then get one

3) If you are not 100% sure about points 1 or 2, then get one

If you have an accident and your insurance company can find a reason not to accept your claim, it could cost you thousands of dollars in the event of an accident.
theotherside is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 02:34 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,748
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I wonder:

Our IDP is dated 2013; we will be driving a year and a few months later in France. It would seem unnecessary to renew it if translations don't expire.

But what theotherside says makes sense.

Should we renew? Would you?
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 02:48 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kerouac, interesting that you translated your driver's license yourself. I fully agree with you about "how hard can it be", but when my daughter went on exchange to France she had to have her birth certificate "officially" translated, and we were directed to a list of approved translators in Sydney. Really surprised us as the information on a birth certificate is pretty basic.
PRLCH is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 03:34 PM
  #38  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,146
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm the OP and I certainly started controversy, didn't I? Not that I intended to - just wanted some advice. After reading all the opinions I think I'll spend $15 and get the permit. Thanks to each of you for all the information.
k
crckwc1 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 03:45 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Considering the total cost of your vacation, $15 will give you piece of mind! Enjoy your travels
theotherside is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2014, 05:14 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 761
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with theotherside. People are sweating small sums of money on very expensive vacations. It's silly. If you decide to rent a car and cannot get one due to the lack of a $15 IDP out of some sort of principle, well, I think that's stupid given the amount of money invested in your trip.

PS Yes, I have one. In fact I have 2 to cover my summer trip in 2014 because last year's expires in the middle. So I got a new one to start on the day after the first expires.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -