International driver's license for car hire

I’m about to go on holiday, and in about 10 days I will be renting a car in France. My wife is worried that we need international driver’s licenses, but I think we will just need our Australian passports and licenses. Does anyone have experience with this?

I am American and have driven numerous times in France, Germany and the UK in a rented car using my US drivers license. So unless the rules have changed in the past 10 years, almost any valid drivers license should work.

An international license is nothing but a translation into six languages of the class of vehicle you are licensed to drive (motorcycle, automobile, heavy-ish truck). They also have a short expiratiln date, as I recall, only a year or two. You must also be in possession of your own valid national drivers licence in order to drive legally.

The only person you will ever show it to is the rental agent, who may or may not ask for one as a matter of his rental company’s internal policy. He knows whether one is required by the police in that country, but may haved a CYA requirement anyway… I drove my own car to Panama and back, nobody ever questioned my US license at borders or routine police stops.

Thanks to both of you, perhaps my wife & I can sleep a little better :slight_smile:

Rental conditions for Europcar France (Europcar being the most popular rental company in much of Western Europe) indicate the driver’s license must be at least 1yo.

You will be fine.

Here is a useful source of information

Here is another - aimed at people from the UK taking their own cars, but much would also apply to you:

If you are thinking of using a sat nav, you may find the cost of renting one extortionate (Hertz charge 88GBP). If you already have one, buy the European maps; if not, consider buying one on eBay before you leave, and selling it on after. Also buy a suitable Michelin map, as the satnav only wants to take you by the most direct route - there is no “pretty route” setting.

Good information here, in particular take note of ‘required equipment’ for driving in France and make sure your hire car has them. A big hire company should anyway, but worth a minute to check.

As to your original question, an international drivers license is not required. While I still had my Aussie one (I’ve transferred to a UK now) I’ve encountered no problems anywhere in Europe with the Aussie license and passport.

Here’s why I always take an international license with me:
You will probably NEVER need it. But you’re on holiday, because you want to enjoy yourself.
Why take a chance on ruining it?

Sure, the official regulations say that your license from home is acceptable. But when standing in front of official bureaucrats, it doesn’t matter what the dry, letter-of-the law says; it only matters what that specific official thinks. At that moment, that person has complete power over you, and you are helpless.
If you happen to run into a stupid clerk or a stupid policeman, you might find that having the document saves you a lot of hassles.
I drove a rental car in Germany to some very small towns in rural areas. Not far from Berlin, but in these towns-- NOBODY spoke any English.
If I had been involved in a traffic incident, and the local policeman asked to see my license–well, I don’t want to spend 2 hours on the side of the road and maybe have to accompany him to the police station while somebody looks for a translator.

I’ve been to Europe many times, and driven almost every time. Only once did I take an international license. I was going on a motorcycle tour and I wanted to make sure that if I got stopped they knew I had a license to ride the bike. I have also read that should one get stopped it’s best to give the international one to the officer, this way, should they decide to keep it you can still go since you still have your real one.

I can say that I did get stopped while on the motorcycle, instead of asking for my license, which he wouldn’t accept, he took my passport. He then told me I needed to pay the equivalent of 50 Euros for the speeding ticket in Romanian Lie. Well, without a passport one can not exchange money in a lot of places. Luckily I had the cash on me, but it I didn’t I’d have been SOL. So yes, they do have power over you should you get stopped. In western Europe I personally wouldn’t worry about one, but going east I’d get one.

I still wish the guy had actually given me a written ticket, I would have framed it. How many other people can say they’ve been pulled over in Romania.

I’ve driven in over 20 countries and the only place I needed an International Driver Permit was in Italy. The rental places simply would not rent to me without presenting it. Which is ridiculous because as mentioned on this thread it is not a legal document but just interpretations of the treaty that makes your home license valid.

You also need one in the Cayman Islands but that doesn’t count as all rental agencies sell you one when you pick up your car.

I am in Barcelona right now. We rented a car briefly and were not asked for an IDP.

That’s strange, I rent in Italy annually and have never needed an international license (I have a UK one - maybe the soon-to-be-lost EU flag on it helps sobs)

Any EU license is valid through the EU, yup. Australian ones, no problem. But some European countries don’t like US licenses and require US drivers to have an IDP (some of the US licenses do not fulfill ID requirements; there’s several very-different rules, which in theory you should have become familiar with before getting the IDP…).

I’ve been asked for an International License at some rental places. It’s hit or miss, so I just keep one with my passport. Peace of mind is certainly worth $15. Why not just get one.

Best thing about them is in some countries they require you leave your license or passport when you rent, especially motorcycles and scooters. The international drivers license comes in very handy, in that situation.

Not expensive, easy to get, good in a pinch. Why wouldn’t you?

On a related note, check the rental company’s insurance conditions very carefully. Many US credit cards will cover the LDW in Europe, but you need to check very carefully what documentation the car rental company requires to accept this. They make a large profits on claiming that it’s mandatory for you to pay for the LDW, which can double your rental cost. I always print out the rental company’s terms & conditions that describe their policy, and bring it with me to show the clerk who will almost always rely upon customer ignorance to insist that you must pay.

Yeah, I always keep a crrent one too. Even though they’re stupid. The one AAA issues looks absolutely ridiculous. Like Special Ed from Crank Yankers attempted to make a fake ID. The info is hand written with pen, and the picture is just stapled on. And then those hokey stamps they put all over it. Really amateurish looking.

But at least AAA will post date them. Before I came to Spain I renewed mine in March. They put the issue date to the day before I arrived here last week. That makes it valid for a little longer. The issue date is also hand written in pen. I should have signed it with a crayon!:stuck_out_tongue:

Cayman law requires persons who do not hold a Cayman license to pay a fee (really don’t like the word ‘tax’ in Cayman) to purchase a visitors permit. In 16 years of living in Cayman and many of those years working closely with police I have never heard of anyone asking for an international drivers license.

When we were there last November I did not have to purchase the visitors permit as I had an IDP. But if I didn’t have that they would have sold me the visitors permit right then and there. About $10 or so if I recall.

I’m going to get one for an upcoming trip for the reason stated above. I don’t want to risk spending vacation time arguing “but the Internet said…”

I think they’re just as ridiculous looking no matter where you get them. I got one in Germany last time I lived there. Even though I had a German driver’s license*, it was still recommended to get an international license for venturing outside of Germany. The one issued by the German government looked exactly like the ones I get from AAA, except with a (D) on the cover instead of a AAA logo. Likek this. Other than that, it was the same gray booklet with the same kind of hand written data and drug-store style ID photo attached and stamped. I’m pretty sure the AAA Crank Yankers version is the standardized format, albeit amateur and ridiculous. My guess is the format came out in 60s when the law was passed, and nobody has bothered to update since then.

*USAREUR License, actually. So not the actual Führerschein. Like this.