What Documentation Do You Need To Drive Abroad?

Traveling abroad is much easier and more comfortable when done on your schedule and in your own vehicle. In order to do that you’ll need to provide a few documents required to drive as a foreigner visiting the country.

The most important of these is an international driving permit. You’ll also need a national permit based on which an international one is issued and proof of identification, which is most often a passport. It’s also essential that you carry proof of insurance.

drive abroad
image by Marco Verch from Flickr

How to Get an International Driving Permit?

You should start with getting an international driving license since it’s the most important document to have and the easiest one to obtain. It can be ordered online as long as you’re able to pay a small fee, provide photos, and have a copy of your national driving license.

The permit is valid for a year and you’ll be able to use it about a week after you’ve requested it in the first place. It’s accepted in more than 150 countries and most of them will also require you to show the permit if you plan to rent a car.

  • A National Permit

An international permit doesn’t allow you to drive abroad on its own. You’ll need to have a national permit with you as well, meaning the one that was issued by your own country. It’s the document on which your right to drive is based and if you can’t produce it, the international permit won’t be enough.

This permit also needs to be valid and it is usually valid for five years meaning that you’ll need to renew the international permit more often. A national license, however, can’t always be renewed online, depending on which country has issued it.

  • An ID Document With A Photo

Both national and international permits have your photo on them but none of them are considered to be ID documents. You’ll need a separate ID document for the permit to be considered valid and the information on it needs to match that on the ID.

For most tourists, this document will be a passport since that’s the document most countries issue for international travel. Some countries, however, accept national IDs as identification documents from foreigners if that’s arranged by a bilateral contract. If that’s the case with the country you’re visiting, this is the only ID you’ll need.

  • Proof of Insurance

In the end, you’ll need proof that your car is insured. None of the documents we’ve mentioned proves that and you need to obtain an insurance policy when you first rent the car or plan on driving it across the border.

If you’re renting a vehicle the rental company will provide the insurance for you. If you’re renting a GPS device, it has its own insurance and you’ll need to pay extra for insuring and using it. This may seem like an unnecessary expense but it may end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.