Driving Overseas? Steer Clear of Bogus Driving Permits

Driving Overseas? Steer Clear of Bogus International Driving Permits

If you plan to travel overseas and drive while you’re there, it’s a good idea to get an international driving permit (IDP) to accompany your U.S. state-issued driver’s license. But make sure your IDP is from one of two associations authorized to issue IDP’s in the U.S. – the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, IDPs sold and issued by any other organization to U.S. residents are bogus and could cause problems with local authorities if you are caught driving with one.

What’s an IDP?

An IDP is an official document that translates your U.S. state-issued driver’s license into 10 foreign languages. Although many foreign countries don’t recognize U.S. drivers’ licenses, most countries accept IDPs that have been issued on behalf of the United States. Your IDP may not be valid unless you present it with your U.S. driver’s license.

What does an official IDP look like?

An official IDP is a gray, multi-page booklet with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” printed at the top of the cover, and the seal of either the AAA or AATA in the middle of the cover. Both AAA and AATA charge less than $20 for an IDP. If you’re asked to pay more, consider it a tip-off to a rip-off.

FTC attorneys have found that individuals or companies not authorized to issue IDPs on behalf of the U.S. government are selling fake IDPs over the Internet, through unsolicited email and in person for prices ranging from $60 to $400. If you buy a fake IDP, not only will you be paying for a worthless document, you also could be facing legal problems or travel delays if you’re detained for using it to drive in a foreign country.

How can I get an official IDP?

You must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license issued by a U.S. state or territory to buy an official IDP. For more information, contact your local AAA office or the AATA. To reach the AAA, check the White Pages of your telephone directory or visit www.aaa.com. To reach the AATA, call 1-650-294-7000 (M-F, 8:30-5:00 Pacific Time); fax: 1-650-294-7040; or visit www.nationalautoclub.com.

International Driver’s Licenses: A Dead End?

Unless you’re going to travel to a foreign country, an international driver’s permit is useless

A driver’s license that can never be suspended or revoked? That’s what some marketers of Web sites are offering, and if it sounds too good to be true, it is. What these ads claim is that— for somewhere between $65 and $350—you can get an international driver’s license (IDL) or an international driving permit (IDP), which can be used in place of a state-issued driver’s license. Despite marketers’ claims, these documents:

• do not authorize legal driving in the U.S., even for people who don’t have state-issued licenses or whose state-issued license has been suspended or revoked;

• can not be used to avoid points or fines affecting stateissued driver’s licenses; and

• can not be used as an official photo ID in the U.S. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if you’re a U.S. resident, and you’re caught using an IDP in place of a valid, state-issued driver’s license, the consequences can be severe.

What is an IDP?

An IDP is simply a translation of your state-issued license for when you drive in some foreign countries. If you are a U.S. resident, an IDP is useless within America’s borders. What’s more, only two organizations are authorized to issue IDPs—the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance—and they each charge $10. To learn more about driver’s license requirements, contact the state department of motor vehicles. If you’ve been scammed by a seller of bogus IDLs or IDPs, file a complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov

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