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How to get an International Driving Permit in the US

Updated: Dec 4, 2023




If you're planning to drive abroad, getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you travel is a critical step to ensure a smooth driving experience, since many countries require that travelers have an IDP in addition to their US driver’s license to drive or rent a car. It’s important to understand that AAA (the American Automobile Association) is the only organization authorized by the US government to issue International Driving Permits, so all IDP options must go through AAA one way or another. Here are the 3 ways to get an IDP in the US:



1. In person at AAA

The least expensive method to get an IDP is to visit a AAA branch in person. While this option is the most time consuming, if you arrive at least a couple hours before AAA closes, you will be able to get an IDP in a single visit. The process takes 30 minutes or less if everything goes smoothly, but a long line at a busy AAA branch can add up to an hour or two.


Steps to obtain an IDP in person:

  1. Gather your US driver’s license, payment method, and recent passport photos (optional).

  2. Visit the nearest AAA location during operating hours.

  3. Fill out AAA’s IDP application form, either ahead of time or while you wait.

  4. If you didn’t bring passport photos, AAA can take them for you for an additional fee (usually about $15).

  5. Pay $20 plus tax for processing the IDP – cash, check, and credit/debit card are generally accepted.

  6. Be prepared to wait up to two and a half hours for the process to be completed, but after that you should be able to walk out with your IDP.

 

2. By mail with AAA 

If you have several weeks before you travel and prefer not to go to AAA in person, you can submit your application to AAA by mail. This option eliminates the need for a personal visit to AAA, but it comes with the requirement of you needing to include printed passport photos. Another downside is that the processing time is 4-7 weeks after your application is received. Also, if your IDP application is denied, you won’t hear back until a rejection letter arrives in the mail up to 8 weeks after you submit.


Steps to obtain an IDP by mail:

  1. Complete and print the IDP application form on the AAA website.

  2. Obtain 2 copies of a recent high-quality passport photo of you, either taken professionally or taken at home and printed on glossy photo paper.

  3. Print copies of the front and back of your driver’s license.

  4. Write a check for $20 payable to “AAA Northeast” – cash is not accepted.

  5. Mail all documents and payment to a branch near you and wait 4-5 weeks after receipt for processing. Or, if you’re already outside the US, prepare to wait 5-7 weeks and mail all your documents to:

AAA/IDP

1000 AAA Drive

Heathrow, FL 32746

Mail Stop 28

 

3. Online through an IDP expediter like Fast IDP

Using an IDP expediter like Fast IDP eliminates the need for an applicant to go to AAA in person or to get passport photo prints, while providing an IDP in as little as 2 days. As of the writing of this article, Fast IDP is the only business we know of offering this service. With Fast IDP's service, you fill out your AAA IDP application and upload your passport photo and license online, and then the Fast IDP team will handle the submission to AAA for you.


Steps to obtain an IDP using Fast IDP:

  1. Complete and upload your IDP application from AAA.

  2. Take photos of the front and back of your driver’s license and upload them on Fast IDP’s secure portal.

  3. Take your passport photos (at home or somewhere with a passport photo service) and upload them on Fast IDP’s secure portal.

  4. Submit your application and payment, which starts at about $100, and goes up with faster processing. (This cost is about $65 more than the cost of going to AAA in person if you don’t have passport photo printouts.)

  5. The Fast IDP team will review your documents for completeness and reach out to you if they see anything you need to adjust in your application.

  6. A Fast IDP team member will go to AAA on your behalf to submit your documents and then will mail your IDP to you.


If you have questions, visit www.fastidp.com, email contact@fastidp.com or call 937-595-0044.

 


Don’t get scammed

Whatever you do, don’t get scammed by a website claiming to offer an IDP instantly online or without involving AAA. Though a company like Fast IDP can legally expedite International Driving Permits through AAA, AAA is the only organization authorized to issue IDPs to US drivers. There is no “instant” or “online only” way to get a legitimate IDP – your documents must be physically handled by AAA in order for them to issue an IDP. If you buy a fake IDP from any other company, you put yourself at the same risk as if you were driving with a fake license or using a fake ID when traveling abroad.


 

Whether you opt for the traditional in-person method, the mailed option, or the expedited Fast IDP service, obtaining an International Driving Permit should be a straightforward process. Choose the option that best fits your schedule and budget, then hit the road with confidence!

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