Do You Need an International Driver’s License in Italy?

International Driving Permit Italy

During my years of visiting and sharing my knowledge of Italy with others, one question I get asked on probably a monthly basis is: Do you need an International Driver’s License in Italy? The short answer to this question is, “no.” However, you do need an International Driving Permit in Italy to be able to rent and operate a vehicle legally.

According to AutoEurope:

“An international driving permit in Italy is required by law if you plan to operate a vehicle in Italy – whether you’re renting a car in Italy or booking an international rental which will take you briefly across the Italian border. Once you arrive in Italy you will be ineligible to obtain the license, so it is important that you do so before departing on your trip.”

Many who have visited Italy before without an International Driving Permit may tell you that you don’t need one. This is likely because when they rented a car, no one checked for an International driver’s license or permit. Basically, they got lucky.

The first few times I visited Italy, I didn’t rent a car and I didn’t know any better. When we came to live in Italy with our car, I still didn’t know. But when our car broke down and we needed to rent a car while ours was in the shop, I found out the hard way why it’s so important to have your International Driving Permit in Italy. I was turned away and the rental company would not rent me a car. Understandably so, because it is the law in Italy after all. This is why I’m so passionate about letting people know that it’s essential to obtain an International Driving Permit before coming to Italy.

Me and my FIAT 500 driving along the Amalfi Coast

What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)

An IDP contains your name, information and photo. It is a valid form of identification for over 150 countries. An IDP translates a U.S. driver’s license into 10 different languages and helps to minimize language barriers while driving in foreign countries.

An International Driving Permit is not a card but is a little booklet with your picture in it. You will also need to bring your valid driver’s license from home to show along with your IDP.

How long does an International Driving Permit last?

IDPs are valid for one year from the date of issue.

International Drivers License vs. International Driving Permit for Italy

So what’s the difference between an International driver’s license and an International Driving Permit?

An “international driver’s license” (IDL) is a worthless document and is misleading because the document does not grant driving privileges and is not a substitute for a U.S. driver’s license. These are sold online and are not worth getting.

Where else can I use my International Driving Permit besides Italy?

International Driving Permits are available in over 150 countries and in 10 different languages.

How do I get an International Driving Permit for Italy?

Here’s how to obtain an International Driving Permit for Italy:

Depending on your AAA, you should be able to obtain your International Driving Permit in less than 10 minutes.

As you can see, getting an International Driving Permit for Italy is quick and painless. It will save you a lot of pain once you get to Italy and you can rent your car with confidence. It’s worth the 10 minutes and $20 for the peace of mind.

Where should I rent a car in Italy?

My favorite place to book rentals is from RentalCars. They provide great rates and cancellation policies and allow you to search multiple rental companies.

Tips for Renting a Car in Italy

Driving in Italy can be a little bit daunting, especially for those of us from the U.S. Don’t be daunted though, exploring Italy by car can be a great way to see hidden gems in Italy that you can’t reach by train. Here are some tips to help you feel more prepared:

  • Bring your Passport
  • Bring your Drivers License
  • Bring your International Driving Permit
  • Get the insurance!
  • Be alert (Italian drivers can be aggressive)
  • Don’t speed (speed cameras are EVERYWHERE)
  • Watch street signs and don’t enter historic city centers

FAQs About International Driver’s License in Italy

  1. Can I drive in Italy with US license?
    Yes, but you need an International Driving Permit as well. The two combined will allow you to drive in Italy.
  2. Can Americans drive in Italy?
    Or course, but again, you must have a valid US license in combination with your IDP.
  3. How to get an international driving permit in Italy?
    Remember that you need to get your IDP before leaving for Italy. You won’t be able to get it while you’re there.

I hope this was helpful. Please reach out if you have any international driving permit Italy questions for me.

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