If you’re a frequent driver overseas, an International Driving Permit (IDP), a document about the size of your passport, is worth getting. Recognised internationally, it normally allows you to drive a private motor vehicle without further formality when accompanied by a valid driving licence.

On September 19, 1949, the United Nations established the International Driving Document to facilitate the travel of motorists in foreign countries where language barriers create difficulties for both motorists and police. This document establishes the right for a person to drive in another country and is written in nine languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish).

It is not always necessary to have one, since many countries recognise each other’s licenses, but possessing an IDP has many advantages. If you’re in an accident, or need to rent a car, it can be invaluable. In fact, in more than 200 countries you can not rent a car at all unless you have an International Driving Document. It may also be a useful form of pictured ID in the case of a lost or stolen passport. You can get an application for the permit, which is good for one year, at your local automobile association office.

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