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Int'l Driver License & Car Rental ?s for Germany

Int'l Driver License & Car Rental ?s for Germany

Old Mar 26th, 2005, 09:32 PM
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Int'l Driver License & Car Rental ?s for Germany

I am traveling to Germany in late April and early May. I am thinking of renting a car instead of using the train for this trip - first time thinking of renting a car in Europe.

Do I need an Int'l Drivers License? If so, what is the process I need to go through to acquire one in the US? Do I have enough time between now late April when I start my travel to process?

Does the fact I might drive to Austria and possibly Switzerland affect the process to acquire a license?

I know these are basic questions but got to start somewhere. I appreciate your resepctive indulgence.
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Old Mar 26th, 2005, 10:06 PM
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It is recommended that you get an International driver's license, especially for Austria. It's very simple --- go to AAA and fill out form. Cost is about $10. We leave in 2 days, and both of us obtained one, due to recommendations on this site.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 01:36 AM
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AAA can also issue you the International Drivers Permit (different from the "license&quot..you might ask them about the differences.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 04:05 AM
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Don't confuse the terms license and permit. There is no such thing as an international driving license. There is an International Driving Permit (IDP). Previous posters are correct--go to AAA in the USA to get one.

The IDP is a translation of your own driving license into several other languages. You must carry both your regular driving license and the IDP in countries that require the IDP.

It isn't a bad idea to have the IDP in non-English speaking countries that don't actually require it.

Do not fall victim to the many fraudulent internet offers to provide an IDP or a so-called international driving license. They are just money-making schemes.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 04:25 AM
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You should definitely go ahead and get the IDP from your local AAA branch.
BUT...we rented cars in Germany many times (mostly from Avis in the Ruhr Valley) and they never asked to see an IDP. My husband's American driver's license was fine with them (ditto for car rentals in Belgium). The German police may be another matter, but we've never been stopped. (We did once get a notice for parking illegally in Aachen, but instead of being issued a ticket with a monetary fine, we were asked to complete a questionnaire on why we chose to park in that area.)
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 05:06 AM
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Hi sb,

The IDP can be obtained from the AAA. You can do it by mail. Here's one link
http://www.aaasouth.com/travel_drivers.asp#idp

An IDP is like insurance - necessary only when you need it.

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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 06:01 AM
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The answer to the often asked question: Do I need an international license is very simple. The only purpose of the international license is to provide a translation of your English language license. If you are going to a country where English is not the official language you need an international license. You can get it for $10 at AAA and it takes maybe 10 minutes. There is no such thing as an international driving permit or license that is stand alone. You must have a driver's license from your home state along with the international translation license.

A better question would be why do I have to renew it every year for another $10. Languages don't change year to year so what is the justification for a yearly renewal. Since you must show your state license as well as the international translation a suspended license would be easily discovered.

Larry J
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 06:16 AM
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Just a thought: What if I'm driving in more than one European country, each with its own language? If my IDP is a translation of my English language driver's license, which language should I use for the IDP? Or do I need a separate IDP for each country? Inquiring minds need to know...,
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 06:27 AM
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The International Driver's Permit is translated in to a "whole bunch" of languages already. You don't choose a particular language -- essentially they are all there.

I don't see that anyone has mentioned that you need two passport type photos to get your IDP. AAA usually charges an additional $10 or so for those photos (unless you have a premium membership, then it may be free), so you might want to have the photos taken from one of those little photo booths in advance to save a few bucks if you're counting your pennies.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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We weren't asked to show an international driver's permit at the car rental desk in Munich's train station. We were asked for our ORIGINAL passports, however, so take yours along when you get your car. I'm told it's not standard practice, but since we didn't have our original passports, we couldn't get our car!
 
Old Mar 27th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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NOTE: Germany does not require an IDP, but German law does require a translation of your driving license into German. The IDP would satisfy this requirement.

Though German law requires a translation, individual police officers may or may not ask for it if you are stopped for some reason.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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And here are a few other countries that will not recognize a US State license by itself:

Albania, Afghanistan, Algeria (unless, like Germany, it has been translated), Argentina, Austria, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Egypt, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy (like Germany, with translation is OK), Japan, South Korea, Russia, Spain (again, unless with translation like Germany), Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, Viet Nam. There are others--didn't want to take time to list all.

Of course, how strictly this is enforced will vary widely from country to country and within different areas of a country, and by individual police officer.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 11:41 AM
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Germany does not need a IDP, but Austria and Italy do. Just check their web sites.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 01:01 PM
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What exactly is it on a driver's license that gets "translated"? I'm looking at my Massachusetts license now, and it has the name of the state, my name and address, a birthdate, an expiration date, my height, and sex. That's it, except for the license number. I can understand the translation thing for countries that use a different alphabet (or no alphabet), but about half the countries listed use the same alphabet we do - isn't everything going to look exactly the same when "translated"?
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 01:05 PM
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Hi FF,

If I handed you a card that said "Führerschein", would you know what it was?

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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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In addition to the International Drivers Permit, you will need to purchase stickers for auto travel in both Austria and Switzerland. This is in lieu of paying tolls on the roads. Be sure to purchase them before you enter the country as you can be fined if found driving without them. (They are placed on the windshield). These can be purchased in Germany at the German equivalent of AAA, which is called ADAC or at gasoline stations in Germany.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 01:25 PM
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Although I still think it's smart to get the IDP, FlyFish does raise an interesting question. The info on my passport isn't translated into German. I would think that if German hotel and bank staff can figure out what's what on my passport, then German police and car rental agencies *should* be able to figure out the limited info on a U.S. drivers license.
Nonetheless, don't fight city hall. Get the IDP.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 01:31 PM
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>..if German hotel and bank staff can figure out what's what on my passport...<

Why are you sure that they do?

Aren't they just looking at your picture and your signature?

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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 01:34 PM
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Yes, I've always thought the whole idea of "translating" a driver's license makes no sense.
Let's see: I wonder if 11/27/1954 is the date of birth? I wonder if this big 16 digit number across the top is the license number? I wonder if Ohio means Ohio? I wonder if this date at the bottom 11/30/2008 is the date it expires? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out all the important stuff on a driver's license.

Oh and by the way, my partner has an eyeglass restriction on his driver's license, so that could be hard to figure out if you didn't know the language. But guess what? -- that's never noted on the IDP.
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 02:15 PM
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This was an international agreement amongst the governments of the world. You expect logic?
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