International driver's license for car hire

pkbites, have you ever had one handed to you during a traffic stop? Either by an actual foreigner, or perhaps by one of those quacks who think they can use it in lieu of their suspended state license?

Not that I recall. And IIRC correctly they aren’t valid in the country they were issued.

You recall correctly. Nor are they valid in a jurisdiction in which one is supposed to have a local DL to drive. For example, I have a valid Georgia (US) license and a current IDP issued in the US, and I reside in China on a long-term (not tourist) visa. I cannot use the IDP to drive in China.

I got one a couple of times for coming to the US, although I think my Thai license, which is almost all in English, would probably have been good enough. Still, it’s not expensive and a nice souvenir if nothing else. Valid only for a year, IIRC. The rental companies did take down the info and seemed glad I did have something like that to back up my Thai license, but I don’t know if they would have refused me if I didn’t have one.

I checked w/ my US CC company in advance & thought I had everything I needed to waive insurance; however, when I went to pick up a car when I got to the airport (morning time) in Germany clerk would not let me go w/o insurance. It seems US insurance is vehicle-based & German insurance is person-based. She stated the generic marketing flyer that was first sent to her was not good enough & would allow me to waive it if the CC company emailed/faxed her a letter stating the specifics of my coverage; what the limits of their policy was, etc., not that CC “provides coverage & suggests I decline insurance”. However, morning in Germany is still middle of the night in the US & that dept is not 24x7. :smack:

The compromise was I had to either wait to rent the car (no way!) or pay for the first day’s insurance & then not need it for the rest of the days if/when the CC company sent something over. They took care of it when I called the CC company again, later that (US) morning.
I realize the OP is Australia/France rather than US/Germany, but it’s something to keep in mind to avoid unnecessary hassle.

An IDP isn’t specifically required in France (as it is in Italy and Austria to my knowledge), but you are required to have a notarized translation of your license (which an IDP provides).

Official info here (thankfully in English):

You can obtain the translation of the license in France but it must be from an authorized translator.

I can now report that I’ve picked up my car, and that the car-hire firm only wanted to see my driver’s license, so it wasn’t a problem that I didn’t have an IDP.

But some of the back roads and lanes in France are frighteningly narrow compared with Australian ones …

If you think that’s narrow, don’t head to the motherland. English country lanes are very narrow, often with hedges blocking half the road, and oncoming traffic is doing 70 mph.

The average American car wouldn’t even fit on these two-lane roads

You will **definitely **need an IDL if you are renting a motorbike (and probably this goes for cars too) in places like Thailand and Indonesia. The rental place will want to keep your passport unless you leave a hefty (returnable) deposit. The police love to target foreigners and fine them if they don’t have one. The couple months around Christmas are especially lucrative (as that’s when they get many visitors). It’s not unheard of to see five or six police actions in a day.
IDLs are not created equal. French vs Australian vs US vs Canadian vs… all have different fees (sometimes free), different expiration dates (one year vs ten years vs permanent). Some smaller countries do NOT have an issuing authority and those citizens are S.O.O.L. unless they want to try one of the online “issuers”.
I hope they never stop issuing the gray paper booklet but now IDLs also come with a laminated card with a hologram.

The most critical thing is to make sure it is endorsed for motorcycles if that is what you are going to be driving.