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Small yellow car in Rome, Italy on cobblestone street.

Can I Rent a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License?

Updated on November 8, 2023

Are you coming to Italy on vacation and want to know if you can rent a car here with your US driver’s license?

Or are you living here in Italy and wondering if you can use your US driver’s license to rent a car?

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Can I Rent a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License?

It depends. If you’re visiting as a tourist, you can rent a car in Italy with a US driver’s license.  If you’re living here in Italy, you can rent a car in Italy with a US driver’s license, but only if you’re not a resident or have been a resident for less than one year.

Renting a Car in Italy as a Visitor or Tourist

If you are coming to Italy and you would like to rent a car, you will need the following legal documents:

  • Your valid US driver’s license (not expired, not suspended, etc.)
  • An International Driving Permit (aka IDP)
  • Your international ID (passport)

Good To Know:  You will also need to have a credit card.  In limited cases, you can make arrangements with a rental car company to reserve a rental car without a credit card.

Read our Complete Guide to Renting a Car in Italy and Renting a Car in Italy as an American.

Do I Need an International Driver’s License to Rent a Car in Italy?

Car rental offices at Florence Peretola airport (FLR) in Florence, Italy.
The Florence airport car rental location

There is no such thing as an International Driver’s License.

If you are visiting Italy, you will need an International Driving Permit (along with your valid US driver’s license) to drive legally in Italy.

Read all about it in my article on the International Driving Permit for Italy – Why & How to Get One.

Need to rent a car? I recommend checking out consolidators like DiscoverCars.com and AutoEurope.com for a round-up of the best deals from Italy’s principal rental car companies.

Renting a Car in Italy as a Resident

As mentioned above, if you’re living here in Italy, you can use your US driver’s license (along with an IDP) to rent a car only if you aren’t a resident or have been a resident for less than one year.

Once you’ve been a resident for at least one year, you can no longer use your US driver’s license (and IDP) to operate a vehicle in Italy.  So, that means you can’t rent a car. 

If you would like to rent a car after one year of residency, you’ll need to get your Italian driver’s license. 

Good To Know:  Car rental companies will not verify if your license is valid, but if you’re involved in an accident, you will have issues with your rental agreement, insurance, and fines.  Don’t risk it!

Can I Convert My US Driver’s License to an Italian Driver’s License

Unfortunately, Italy and the United States do not have reciprocal recognition of driver’s licenses.  So, you can’t simply convert your US driver’s license if you need to get an Italian driver’s license.  You will need to pass written and driving tests, have a medical exam, and submit documents to get your Italian driver’s license.

What Happens if I’m a Resident Caught Driving Without an Italian Driver’s License

Police traffic stop in Italy.  The policeman is holding a paddle that tells the driver to slow down and pull over for the check.

If you’ve been a resident for at least one year, your US license (with IDP) is no longer valid.  If you are caught driving without an Italian driver’s license at this point,

Read our article on Getting an Italian Driver’s License for more info about the (fun) process of getting your driver’s license here.

For details on Italian driver’s license requirements and fines for violations, see the Codice della Strada (Road Code), in particular, Section 4.

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Italian Gas Stations – A Guide to Getting Gas in Italy
Italian Road Signs – A Guide for Visitors + Photos
Renting a Car in Florence
Renting a Car in Pisa
Renting a Car in Sicily

Renting a Car in Italy with a US License FAQ

Where can I learn more about the Italy car rental process?

You can read our Complete Guide to Renting a Car in Italy.

Do I need a rental car for all areas of Italy?

A rental car can be useful in Northern Italy and Southern Italy, in the mountains and at the seaside.  For more info on which regions a rental car is helpful, see Which Areas of Italy Should I Explore With a Rental Car?

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