Friday, January 28, 2011

International Driving Permits Vs. A License To Scam

Brian has picked up an International Driving Permit a number of times over the years. We're flying to Rome in a couple of days and plan to spend a week in a small hotel in a town an hour's train ride away. It's possible to rent a car there and we might explore that option, so we headed to the closest AAA office to pick up a new permit.

It's difficult if not impossible to find a definitive list of which countries (or, for that matter, car rental companies) require the IDP, so it seems easier just to pick one up for about $20, including the required photos.

Basically, the IDP is not a license; rather, it's an internationally recognized translation of one's own license, and both documents have to be carried. Automobile clubs (AAA, CAA, etc.) are the only places that issue them. Sad to say, there is apparently something of a thriving industry of scam artists who purport to sell international driving licenses.

Snopes, Scambusters, and a Texas Attorney General all offer warnings of this Caveat Emptor situation.

We've driven somewhat extensively within and through a number of European countries, and Italy can be among the most, ah, interesting, and we now have the IDP in case we decide to get behind an Italian wheel.

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