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Can I drive with US license in Italy?

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Whether you’re booking an international rental or renting a car in Italy, you are required by law to have an international driving permit if you’re operating a vehicle. It is important to mention that you won’t be able to obtain the permit once you arrive in Italy. Therefore, make sure you do so before departing on your trip. In addition, it is generally recommended to apply for the permit at least a month prior to your arrival, just in case something goes wrong.

Usually, this process takes between 10 and 30 minutes, so you won’t have any problems. The AATA and AAA issue these permits all the time, so they are relatively fast. More importantly, you don’t need a lot of preparation to apply for the permit. 

Why do you need an International Driving Permit in Italy?

Your international drivers license in Italy will allow you to drive to any place in the country. Whether you’re headed to Geneva or Sicily, you will be able to get there by car, but only if your IDP is valid. The document is valid for one year once you get it, so you have plenty of time to plan your trip even beforehand. 

Besides, there are more reasons why you should get your IDP when traveling to Italy, or just anywhere in Europe. The first reason is that the permit is required by law if you’re operating a vehicle in the country. Be sure that you will be asked to present this special license if you’re stopped while driving through Italy. You are going to face consequences, usually in terms of fees, if you don’t possess this permit in this case.

The second reason is that you won’t be able to rent a car in Italy without the International Driving Permit. Most trusted suppliers require clients to show the IDP when they’re signing a contract with a rent-a-car agency. Therefore, your holiday plans may be very limited considering you will be limited to travel without a vehicle during your stay if you don’t get your permit.

Additionally, if you happen to be involved in a minor car crash, the International Driving Permit will make your life way easier. The authorities will easily get all the information about you considering that the permit translates everything from your domestic license. From there, they will be able to get you on your way and help you. Also, it is very likely that you will be stopped when traveling in an unfamiliar area, and the IDP will easily translate everything the authorities need to know about you in the situation. 

If you don’t have your IDP with you during a routine police check in Italy, you may be fined from anywhere $400-$1600. In addition, the authorities can easily impound your vehicle, meaning you will have to pay even more to your rental company and the costs of getting the vehicle back into your hands. 

In case of an accident, you need to know that most insurance companies won’t cover your expenses if you haven’t had your driving permit with you. These are just some examples of why you are required to obtain the IDP. In fact, there’s no good reason why you shouldn’t do it, especially if you’re planning a vacation with a group of people and you don’t want any headaches. 

How to get your IDP?

Before anything is said, it is important to mention that you should always apply for the permit well in advance, especially if you’re applying online. In these situations, the process can take up to six weeks, or even longer. Calculate when you will depart for your trip and take the time it takes to process your application into consideration. 

Determine what agency you want to use to obtain your license. There are plenty of them, but the most trusted ones are the American Automobile Association and American Automobile Touring Alliance. These are also the cheapest options, as other agencies may charge far more than you would actually pay for these. 

Everything you need for the application is two passport-sized photos and your original driver’s license. There is a small fee of $20, but this is way less than you would end up spending if you were to go to a different agency. 

It is important to mention that there are no written or driving skill tests when applying for the permit. This is simply because your IDP is not an actual driver’s license; it is just a document that translates your original one. Another thing you need to pay attention to is the expiry date of your driver’s license. If it expires within the six months of your permit application, you will need to renew it first. The document won’t be valid if your driver’s license is about to expire. 

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