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If you are thinking about travelling abroad and wish to enjoy driving in a foreign country, you’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP allows you to drive in foreign countries without having to obtain a local driver’s licence. IDPs are recognized in over 150 countries worldwide. Accompanied by your domestic driver’s licence, an IDP can help break down language barriers when travelling across countries and will let you enjoy seeing the sites on your time. Read on to learn everything you need to know about driving with an IDP.

What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

If you have a driver’s licence, you can apply for an International Driving Permit or International Driver Document to drive in another country for leisure purposes. The IDP is proof that you possess a valid driver’s licence issued by a competent authority in Canada. It translates your driving qualifications into ten of the world’s most commonly used languages. It allows you to drive in over 150 different countries without having to take tests or submit other applications.

Functions of an International Driving Permit

  • Translates your credentials: IDPs ensure that your domestic driving licence is legible by local authorities and officials in the foreign country where you are driving.
  • Certified: The issuer of your IDP certifies that you have a valid driving licence in your country of residence, i.e. that you are authorized to drive motor vehicles.
  • Type of vehicle: The issuer of your IDP also indicates and certifies what category (or categories) of motor vehicles you are authorized to drive.
  • Improves road safety: The fact that IDPs are often required to drive abroad helps ensure that every driver on the road is an authorized driver, and helps improve road safety worldwide.

Advantages of carrying an IDP while travelling

Your IDP is a legal travel document regulated by the United Nations, and it is for your protection and safety. IDPs are a requirement for renting a motor vehicle in many countries, and can be helpful if you find yourself in need of identification or assistance. Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide, containing your name, photo and driver information in several languages – so it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit. It is important to note that your IDP will only allow you to operate a vehicle in the same class as your Canadian driver’s licence. For example, you cannot use an IDP to ride a motorbike if you are only licensed to drive automobiles. Your travel insurance may not cover an accident if you are driving a vehicle without the proper licence.

For a list of all the countries that recognize an IDP, click here.

Application requirements for an IDP

If you need to obtain an IDP, you should contact the Canadian Automobile Association for a Canadian International Driving Permit application form.

In order to apply for an IDP, you will need to meet certain requirements, such as:

  • You need to be at least 18 years of age.
  • You must hold a valid Canadian provincial driver’s licence. An IDP cannot be issued for learners’ permits, provisional or suspended licences.
  • Two identical passport-sized photos are required. You can obtain these passport photos at any CAA South Central Ontario stores.
FYI: You are only allowed to drive the class of vehicles presently covered by your provincial driver’s licence.

To obtain your IDP, you can either visit a local CAA store in person or you can apply via mail. If mailing in your application, be sure that you follow the steps outlined on the CAA website. For more information about obtaining a copy of the application form, click here.

Important: Only CAA is authorized to issue IDPs in Canada, under a UN-approved mandate. Any non-CAA issued IDP is fake and will not be accepted by a foreign country. For more information, visit the Government of Canada website here.

Visitors to Canada and driving with an IDP

At this time of the year, many Canadians have friends and family visit over the summer break. Here are a few facts that you should know if your guests are coming to Ontario and are planning to drive while here:

Visiting less than three months

If your visitors to Ontario are staying for less than three months or 90 days and want to drive while they are here, they can use a valid driver’s licence from their own province, state or country.

They will also need to:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have proper insurance coverage for the vehicle they will drive
  • Carry an original (or exact) copy of the vehicle ownership permit
  • Obey all traffic laws, drive safely and avoid collisions when they are driving

Visiting more than three months

If your friends or family will be visiting from another country for more than three months, they will need an IDP from their own country. This special licence allows motorists to drive internationally when accompanied by a valid driver’s licence from their country. They will need to have this permit with them when they arrive in Ontario. Visitors cannot apply for one once they are here.

FYI: If you are a temporary resident, such as a foreign student or foreign worker, you might be considered a resident and need to get an Ontario driver’s licence. Please contact the Ministry of Transportation for more information about your situation.

FAQS about International Driving Permits

How much does an IDP cost?

The cost of an IDP is $25.00 CDN, plus tax. You are able to pay in-person at any local CAA office with cash, debit or credit cards.

Is there an age requirement for driving with an IDP?

You must be 18 years or older and have a valid driver’s licence.

How long does it take to process an IDP?

If you visit your local CAA store, they will typically process your application immediately during your store visit. If you choose to mail-in your application, you should allow at least 4-6 weeks for the IDP to reach you. International addresses may take even longer to arrive.

When does an IDP expire?

An IDP expires one year from the date it is issued or when the associated provincial driver’s licence expires, whichever comes first. While the IDP is valid for one year, some countries may have restrictions on the length of time you can drive there. Check with the country you plan to visit before you leave.

Can I get an International Driving Permit with a G1 or G2 licence?

No. You must have a full G licence or its equivalent form your home country.

Can an IDP be renewed?

No. An IDP cannot be renewed, post-dated or extended. You must fill out a new IDP application form each time a new IDP is required.

What type of licence can I use to obtain an IDP?

You can use any Canadian Provincial or Territorial full driver’s licence. However, you cannot obtain an IDP with a learner’s level licence.

If I’m a Canadian, do I need an IDP to drive in the U.S.?

Canadians with a provincial or territorial driver’s licence do not need an IDP to drive in the U.S.

Remember to check with your destination’s embassy or consulate in Canada or look under the Laws and Culture tab of the Travel Advice and Advisory for your destination to find out if an IDP is required at your destination. Also, be sure to set up proper travel insurance coverage with one of our isure representatives before you travel.

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