Everyone asks: Do I need an international driving permit?

Many travellers assume that since car rental operators ask to see your Australian licence but not an IDP there is no legal requirement to have on, but this is not so.

While your Australian licence will get you behind the wheel of a hire car 99 times out of 100, it might not pass muster if you are involved in an accident or stopped by police for a driving infringement.

An International Drivers Permit is a translation of your licence into other major world languages so that a police officer in Greece or Brazil can check its validity.

It is valid for one year from the date of issue, provided that your Australian licence is also valid during that period. It is not a substitute for your Australian licence, which must also be carried and produced when required.

While you might think that a translation of your licence might be superfluous in an English-speaking country, that’s not always correct.

In Texas for example, a Australian-licenced driver without an IDP can be fined for driving without a licence. If you drive without an IDP, not only do you risk a fine but your vehicle insurance might be cancelled if you’re involved in an accident. Your local state motoring organisation can fit you up with an IDP, at a cost of less than $40.

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