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Have you got an upcoming road trip across the United States? Or maybe you’re planning on go-karting in the streets of Tokyo. Regardless of where you’re going, if you’re going to drive in another country, you may need an international driver’s licence.

Otherwise known as an international driving permit (IDP), this licence is sanctioned by the United Nations. This handy card will allow you to legally rent vehicles and drive overseas without having to take extra tests on your holiday. It’s also a recognised form of identification in 174 countries.

You can use an international driving licence in more than 150 countries and it’s usually printed in nine different languages for local authorities. Many insurance companies won’t cover you for any vehicle-related claims if you drive without the proper licence, so make sure you do your research.

Where do I get an international driver’s licence?

You can get your international driver’s licence or  international driving permit online from the Australian Automobile Association website, or in person at your local state or territory’s motoring club:

State or territoryMotoring club
New South WalesNRMA
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)NRMA
South AustraliaRAA
Western AustraliaRAC
Northern TerritoryAANT

You’ll need to have the following items with you whether you apply in person or online:

  • A current Australian driver’s licence
  • Passport-size colour photo (no older than six months)
  • A credit/debit card for payment ($42 plus postage*)

*Price subject to change. Current as of August 2020.

Do I need an international driver’s licence?

You’ll need an international driver’s licence in most countries if you’re planning to drive or rent a vehicle. You can get this licence as long as you’re over 18 and have a valid open or provisional driver’s licence. Keep in mind that you’ll be subject to the local driving laws of whichever country you’re in.

That’s to say, most locations have a minimum rental age of 21 and require a full driver’s licence for you to be able to hire and drive. There may be other restrictions and conditions that dictate what you can and can’t do in each country, so make sure you look it up in advance on the Australian Automobile Association website.

Even after you get your international driving permit, you should always carry your Australian driver’s licence. Your local licence validates your international driver’s licence, meaning that you can drive only if you have both documents on you.

An expired, suspended or revoked licence isn’t a valid document that you can use to get an international driver’s licence, either. Furthermore, driving without the correct licence could get you arrested or land you in jail. Disobeying local driving laws and road rules can also invalidate any claims on your travel insurance.

How long does it take to get an international driver’s licence?

It usually takes three to eight business days to process and deliver an international driving permit to Australia if you’re applying online. If you need the licence immediately, your local motoring club should be able to issue you one on the spot provided that you meet all the requirements and have the correct documents.

A group of friends on a road trip standing in front of a van highfiving,

Which countries accept an Australian driver’s licence?

Most countries require you to get an international driver’s licence to drive or rent a vehicle. However, you may be able to drive with just your Australian driver’s licence in some countries, like Vanuatu, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.

Certain countries, like Portugal, Philippines and the United Kingdoms will allow you to drive on an Australian license for up to a certain number of months (i.e. six months).

You can look up the specific driving requirements for each country on the Australian Automobile Association website.

How long can I drive on my international driver’s licence?

Unlike a regular driving licence, an international driver’s licence is only valid for 12 months. So, if you got one years ago for your overseas trip to who-knows-where, you’ll need to get it renewed for your upcoming trip.

What happens if my rental vehicle gets damaged?

Did you know travel insurance can also cover car, motorcycle and scooter rentals? Unfortunately, like all good things, certain risks come with rental vehicles. Fortunately, car rental companies typically offer rental car insurance when you sign a hire agreement.

Some companies may automatically provide insurance as a part of the hire agreement; however, you’ll likely have to pay an additional fee to get cover.

This insurance will typically cover the costs if your rental gets stolen, damaged or involved in a collision while you’re travelling, subject to the terms of the insurance. However, you’ll still have to pay an excess, which can cost thousands of dollars.

With travel insurance, your insurer can cover this excess owed when you claim on that hire car insurance.

Keep in mind that your insurer can void your claim in certain circumstances, such as if you disobeyed road rules or did not have the correct international driving permit. To find out more about this type of insurance, check out our pages on car hire excess or motorcycles and scooters cover.

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