Int'l Driving License necessary?

Old Feb 9th, 2000, 10:40 AM
  #1  
Val
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Int'l Driving License necessary?

Hello folks. I will be travelling in Italy (and a little in France) for a month, this March, and renting a car. I understand that an International Driver's License is not a requirement, but may be "helpful". Has anyone ever needed theirs, or wished that they had had one, while travelling in western Europe? The last time I travelled I had carried one, but never used it (lost now). It's only about $16. US, but is it really necessary? Thanks for your thoughts.
 
Old Feb 9th, 2000, 10:53 AM
  #2  
elvira
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We've rented cars in Greece, Republic of Ireland and France, and have never been asked for an international driver's license when renting. The only 'border' we ever crossed with a car was between the Six Counties and the Republic, and the guards just waved us through. We've never been stopped by the police, so I can't testify if one would be needed under those circumstances.
 
Old Feb 9th, 2000, 11:07 AM
  #3  
Ed
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In fact they _are_ required by international convention (treaty). As a practical matter they're rarely needed.

Their principal purpose is to make it possible for a police officer who does not read English (or the license holder's language) to determine whether you are validly licensed.

Most of us will make trips to Europe without ever having a practical need for an IDL.

For the 1 in 1000 (or whatever the ratio) who has the misfortune to have an accident or is pulled over in an area where the officer doesn't read English, having an IDL can save hours of delay and discomfort.

The cost for an IDL ... typically $10 at your nearest AAA, plus the cost of a passport photo which they'll take for you (about $5).

So ... needed? Not normally in the practical sense. Worthwhile insurance? Each will have to make their own judgment.
 
Old Feb 9th, 2000, 11:11 AM
  #4  
Bob Brown
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This subject comes up every so often.
One reason I read that made an international driver's license sound like a good deal was this one: If you get stopped for any reason and are asked to surrender your license, you can give up the international license and keep your hands on your state-side license.
I have never been stopped or had an incident in Europe, and (knock on wood)
I hope I never have one.
The closest we came was when we were surrounded by cows on the lakeshore drive at Lac de Moiry and the critters came up to investigate the car. Some of them started licking the paint and clanging those big bells into the fenders and hood. The car was not moving at the time, so we did not have any problems there. But those bells did a number on the paint. Fortunately, I had signed the CDW to accept coverage and we were able to walk away with no problems when we turned the car.
Does anybody have a guess as to what there was on the car that caused the cows to lick the paint?? It was September, so the roads had not been recently salted. Also, the car was very clean when we got it. We thought perhaps there was salt residue on the paint. (I didn't lick it myself to see!!!)
 
Old Feb 9th, 2000, 11:34 AM
  #5  
Paulo
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If you ask the Italian Consulate if a translation of your DL is required in Italy, the answer you'll get is YES!
Now, what happens if you don't have one? If you're not stopped by the police ... evidently nothing. If you're planning to drive mainly on Autostrade, the chance that the police will stop you at random for a checkout is zero. If you plan to drive in many back roads, cross small villages, etc, this chance increases quite a bit. If you're involved in a traffic violation or accident, you'll have to deal with the police for sure...
If you're stopped by the police (either at random, or because a violation or accident) you're in trouble if you don't know how to communicate in Italian and the police doesn't speak English. You'll be called to the police station to clear matters ... a pain!
In all my travels to Italy when driving a car I never had a traffic violation and was not involved in accidents ... but got stopped 3 times (random check), always when crossing small villages. Twice I didn't have the IDL and was able to talk myself out of it ... which was an interesting experience I must say The last time up I had an IDL and the policeman (who checked my DL) returned it without even opening it ...
Don't be too much impressed with the 3 times I got stopped ... this is about once every 8 months of driving there!
Paulo

PS. Here in Brazil, to get an IDL that is good for just one year costs about US$ 60, a real ripoff ... At only US$ 16 I wouldn't think much to get one, even if the chance of having troubles is slim. Consider it as an insurance for your peace of mind One buys insurance hoping not to use it, right?

 
Old Feb 9th, 2000, 12:51 PM
  #6  
D.B.
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http://www.theaa.co.uk/motoringandtravel/Idp/index.asp

 
Old Feb 9th, 2000, 01:30 PM
  #7  
Ruth
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If the IDL is needed for the translation of your driver's license, how about carrying your expired IDL? We're going to France in May and our IDLs expired last August, but our driver's licenses haven't changed. Anyone had experience with this?
 
Old Feb 9th, 2000, 06:21 PM
  #8  
Patrick
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My AAA must be a very good deal. They don't charge me anything for either the IDL or the passport photo, so I always get one. We rented a car for one day in Sicily and they insisted I have an IDL, that's the only time I've used it.
 
Old Feb 10th, 2000, 07:47 AM
  #9  
Bob
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I was ticketed in Austria for speeding by a State Policeman who did not speak any English. He had no problem with my Texas license. He just wrote the ticket and I paid the fine on the spot. You ask how did he let me know what the fine was? He just wrote down the speed limit and then what my speed was. Then when he gave me my ticket, he wrote down the amount of the fine. I paid him the $50 in cash and we were done. Note another good reason to always have cash with you.


 
Old Feb 10th, 2000, 08:10 AM
  #10  
Paulo
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Ruth, I used an expired IDL in Greece and Turkey a couple of years ago. I was never asked to show it, so I don't know what would follow. I plan to use the same IDL next summer, in Italy and Spain (I'm also driving in Germany, Austria and France, but the respective consulates here in Brazil told me an IDL was not required).
Paulo

 
Old Feb 12th, 2000, 10:25 PM
  #11  
alan
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Hi! Just wanted to add my two cents.I usually read the government requirement for that particular country and follow it. Nver been asked for when stopped by the Police. Last summer we were stopped in Beroun, Czech rep. They were Police I guess, We couldn't communicate so they explained what my wife had done and wrote out our fine. We had a choice between 1000 to 4000 Koruns, naturally we picked the lowest amount. It came to about 30 USDwhic is not bad for what ever we had done. Still didn;'t use the IDL though alan
 
Old Feb 13th, 2000, 10:57 AM
  #12  
Gayle
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We just came back from Italy, where we rented a car from AVIS. No one at the rental place asked us for our international drivers license. Italy does require it. To stay safe, get one. You could end up with a fine if you do not have one and have a accident or some other run with with the police. Although we didn't use ours. I was glad wwe had it. They drive nuts in Milan, Florence, Rome etc...
Gayle
 
Old Feb 14th, 2000, 07:51 AM
  #13  
lisa peretz
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I'm going to Italy in May and will be driving from Florence, around the Chianti region and then to Rome. It sounds like its probably a good idea to get anIDL just in case. How much of a hassle could it be?

I spoke to the AAA contact listed in Frommer's who told me that in Manhattan, the local AAA is at Broadway and W.62 Street. She said it takes 5 minutes??? and all you need is $10.00, 2 passport photos and your driver's license.
 
Old Feb 15th, 2000, 03:57 PM
  #14  
geo
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A friend was asked for his liscense by police in Italy. He showed his Calif. liscense, the mancould not read english so he had to go with him -miles out of his way to the police station,to find someone who could translate-ruined his day. I won't drive without anIDL
 
Old Feb 20th, 2000, 02:52 PM
  #15  
Lisa
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I would especially suggest it if you're female. My sister and I were stopped 7 times in 13 days in Chianti/Umbria/Campania in September 1997. I've been told by Italian relatives that it was probably because there were no guys in the car. The carabinieri were blatantly ogling us. I'm glad I had the IDL--three times they asked for EVERY piece of ID we had on us (rental agreement, passport, IDL, California drivers license). I speak Italian, which made it easier, but they never fined us or anything else. It quickly became a joke. It really does take 10 minutes--and it's valid for a year. Have fun! The driving in the area you're going is easy and fun, actually.
 
Old Feb 20th, 2000, 03:05 PM
  #16  
Etienne
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Normally you won't be asked to show your IDL. But what happens if you get involved in a car accident?If you can not show a valid drivers licence, you will be accused with illegal driving of a car, and the damages will not be covered by insurance companies. Up to you to decide if it's worth the risk.
 

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