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). Drivers are required by law to carry an International Driving Permit with their driver’s license.
If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out our posts on:
Renting a Car in Italy
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
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 get an Italian driver’s license (includes a written test, driving test, medical exam, and documents and fees – fun!).
What Is an International Driving Permit and Do You Need One in Italy?
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.
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
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 Driver’s License 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
- 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:
1000 AAA Drive
Heathrow, FL 32746
Attn: Mail Stop #28
For more details, see the AAA ‘Already Overseas’ section on its website.
When Will You Need To Show Your International Driving Permit in Italy?
Car Rental Pick-up
While plenty of people will tell 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.
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.
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 Driver’s License 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.
I hope this has helped clear up any questions you had about the International Driving Permit.