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Car driving on countryside roads in Tuscany.

International Driving Permit for Italy in 2024 – Why and How to Get One

Updated on January 17, 2024

Are you ready to zip through the Tuscan vineyards on a day trip in your FIAT 500? 

Daydreaming about driving in the Dolomites?

Perhaps you’re vacationing in neighboring France but want to pop into Italy for the afternoon.

Or maybe you drew the short straw and you’re the official van driver for your group’s tour around Sicily. 

No matter what, if you’re planning on driving while you’re visiting Italy, you’ll need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP).  Non-EU drivers are required by law to carry an International Driving Permit with their driver’s license.  You can also have a legal Italian translation of your driver’s license, but this is usually more tedious and costly to obtain.

Important:  This is a detailed guide for United States-based travelers who want to drive in Italy

If you’re traveling from other countries, visit these helpful websites:

United Kingdom – Getting an International Driving Permit (Gov.uk)
Australia –  Apply for an International Driving Permit (Australian Automobile Association)
Canada – International Driving Permit (Canadian Automobile Association)

If you’re a new resident in Italy, you may use your US license with the IDP for one year, but then you’ll need to go through the process of obtaining an Italian driver’s license (which includes a written test, driving test, medical exam, and documents and fees – fun!).

If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out:
Renting a Car in Italy

Renting a Car in Italy as an American
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy

International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy
Parking in Italy + Parking Sign Translations
ZTLs in Italy

What Is an International Driving Permit and Do You Need One in Italy?

Cover of an International Driving Permit (IDP), required for visitors driving in Italy.
The front cover of the official International Driving Permit. Tip – keep your paper International Driving Permit in a ziplock bag or plastic cover.

If you’re traveling to Italy and would like to drive while you’re here, you’ll need to get an International Driving Permit. 

The term ‘International Driving Permit’ (IDP) is often used interchangeably with ‘International Driver’s License,’ but it is important to note that the IDP is not a license.  Your IDP does not attest to your driving skill or ability.

The International Driving Permit (IDP) is a permit that must be used with your legal US driver’s license

You can think of your International Driving Permit as a translation of your US driver’s license so that Italian authorities can get your important information from your driver’s license while you’re in Italy.

Important: If you have a license from an EU country, this article doesn’t apply to you. You can use your EU license while driving in Italy!

What Information Does the International Driving Permit Contain?

The IDP is a 4”x6” booklet that contains a page with:

  • your name
  • your photo
  • your date and place of birth
  • where you reside

Its following 9 pages include translations into other languages.

How To Get an International Driving Permit for Italy

Sign above AAA office in the United States.

The US State Department has only authorized AAA (American Automobile Association) to sell International Driving Permits to US drivers.  That means you must get your IDP from  AAA. 

You don’t need to be a member of AAA to get an International Driving Permit.

You can get your IDP through AAA by going to a AAA office in person, or by mailing it to a AAA office.

Good To Know:  It is not possible to get your International Driving Permit online.

Good To Know:  You may have heard or read that you can also get the IDP through AATA (American Automobile Touring Alliance).  They have stopped issuing the IDP, so you must obtain it through AAA.

There are plenty of other companies online that advertise their IDP services.  Stick with the US State Department’s authorized IDP provider – AAA.

Who Can Get an International Driving Permit at AAA?

You can get an IDP from AAA if:

  • you have a valid US license
  • your US license is valid for 6+ months after the issuance of the IDP
  • you are 18 or older

Getting Your IDP in Person at a AAA Office

The quickest and easiest way to get your IDP is to physically go into a AAA office

Before you go, visit the AAA website’s International Driving Permit page and print out the IDP application form.

Bring to the office:

  • the completed IDP application
  • two passport photos (you can take them at your AAA office or bring them from another place)
  • your US license
  • $20 for the permit fee

This is the best option if you’re leaving for your trip soon because you don’t have to wait for the mail. 

Getting Your IDP from AAA Through the Mail

If you don’t live close enough to a AAA office, you’ll need to mail everything (see the website for up-to-date list) to your nearest AAA office.  I’d call the office first to confirm they’re processing IDPs.

Getting Your International Driving Permit from Abroad

If you’re already in Italy or abroad and you need to get an International Driving Permit, don’t fret!  You can mail the application and required documents to:

AAA/IDP
1000 AAA Drive
Heathrow, FL 32746
Attn: Mail Stop #28
(407) 444-7000

For more details, see the AAA ‘Already Overseas’ section on its website.

Good To Know: The 2024 estimated processing time is 5-7 weeks.

When Will You Need To Show Your International Driving Permit in Italy?

Traffic stop paddle being held up by a police officer in Italy.
If you see this sign while you’re driving in Italy, it means you need to pull over

Car Rental Pick-up

While plenty of people will tell you that you don’t need it when you pick up your rental car, many companies DO require it and explicitly state they do in the rental terms. 

You may not be asked for it, but if you are, and you don’t have it, you will not be able to rent your car. I have personally seen this happen.

Traffic Stops

Even if you’re an excellent driver, you still may be pulled over for a random check by the Italian police:

  • polizia stradale – road police
  • vigili urbani – city police
  • polizia municipale – town police
  • guardia di finanza – fiscal police
  • carabinieri – military police

If you are, be prepared to show your driver’s license and your IDP.

Good To Know: I always ask the Italian police at these stops (and even some that I see while I’m out during the day) if they ask for the IDP when they pull someone over. Most have told me they don’t ask for it – but not all of them. Be prepared and have a IDP if you’re driving.

Traffic Accidents and Violations

You will also need your IDP and driver’s license if you’re in a traffic accident or pulled over for a traffic violation.

Fines For Not Having an International Driving Permit in Italy

Italian law states that if your license is not from an EU country or European Economic zone, you are required to have an International Driving Permit (legal translation of your driver’s license). 

If you are not able to produce the IDP while in Italy, you will be fined from €80 to €317

You can read the law (in Italian) on the ACI (Automobile Club d’Italia) website.

Kids driving play cars at the Cavallino Matto theme park in Tuscany, Italy.
‘Driving’ at Cavallino Matto theme park in Tuscany doesn’t require an IDP

I hope this has helped clear up any questions you had about the International Driving Permit.

If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out:
Renting a Car in Italy

Renting a Car in Italy as an American
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy

International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy
Parking in Italy + Parking Sign Translations
ZTLs in Italy

Buon viaggio!

Italy International Driving Permit FAQ

Is an International Driver’s License required in Italy?

There is no such thing as an International Driver’s License. If you plan on driving during your visit to Italy, you must obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which you should carry with your driver’s license.

Can foreigners drive in Italy?

Yes, if you’re visiting, you’ll need to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your legal driving license.
If you’re a resident of Italy, you will need to obtain an Italian driving license after one year of becoming a resident.

Do I need an IDP even if I’m not planning to drive in Italy?

It’s not a bad idea to get one if you’ll be traveling by car. Even if someone else in your group is planning on doing all of the driving, things happen. It’s an inexpensive backup if you need to switch drivers for some reason.

What’s the difference between an International Driver’s License and an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

There is no such thing as an International Driver’s License.  Many people use the term interchangeably with International Driving Permit (IDP).  The IDP (accompanied by a valid driver’s license) is often required to drive in a foreign country.

Can I get an IDP if I’m already in Italy?

If you’re already in Italy, you can send your application and required documents by mail to AAA.

How long is the AAA IDP valid? 

An IDP is valid for one year from the date written on its front cover.  You can have AAA write a date closer to or on your departure date, within 6 months.  For example, if you’re leaving in December, you can get your IDP in June.

What do I do if my IDP expires while I’m in Italy?

You can get a new IDP by mail. Send your application and required documents to the designated AAA office.

Do I need to be a AAA member to get an International Driving Permit? 

No, you do not need to be a AAA member to purchase an International Driving Permit.

Can I get passport photos at the AAA office?

Sometimes, yes.  Call the office to see if it offers the service.  If you can get photos at the office, you will pay less if you are a AAA member.

I don’t have a US license, but I’m traveling in the US before I go to Italy.  Can I get a AAA International Driving Permit in the US? 

No, you must obtain the IDP from the country in which your driver’s license is issued. 

What is an International Driver’s License?

You’re most likely referring to the International Driving Permit (IDP), a small booklet you can get through AAA (in the US) that you need to carry alongside your driver’s license while driving in Italy.  The IDP translates your driver’s license for Italian authorities.  Many car rental agencies require it to rent a vehicle.

Can I use the IDP in other countries in the European Union?

Yes, you can use the same IDP in other countries in the EU and many countries around the world.  Check the AAA site for an up-to-date list of countries that recognize the IDP.

I live in Puerto Rico. Where do I get my International Driving Permit?

Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory (like Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands), you will need to get your IDP from the United States. You can contact a U.S. AAA office and get the IDP via mail.

The Italian Embassy website says I can also have an Italian translation of my U.S. driver’s license. Do I still need to get an IDP?

If you are renting a car, you will find agents trained to ask for an International Driving Permit. Italian police are also used to seeing the document. Based on my experience here, I highly recommend getting the AAA IDP if you’re planning on driving here in Italy. Also, getting your license officially translated is more of a hassle and more expensive. But, legally, yes, you can also get an official Italian translation of your US license.