How to apply for an International Driving Licence (IDL)/International Driving Permit (IDP)

Indian citizens can apply for an International Driver's License or International Driver's Permit before proceeding abroad. This piece of document will allow you to rent a vehicle and drive in a foreign land. A large number of countries recognise the IDL/IDP as a valid proof of your driving skills. Check out how you can get yourself an IDL before heading abroad.

Driver's License issued in India is not valid abroad. Which means that even though you might have a valid driving license that allows you to drive in India, you cannot use the same document to drive a vehicle on foreign soil. Whether you are travelling abroad on a holiday or on business you will not be able to rent a car and take those road trips. To do so, you will need a valid driver's permit or license.

The good news is that Indians moving to a foreign country can apply for an International Driver's Permit (IDP), which will allow them to take the wheel abroad. The IDP is authorised by the United Nations and is an official travel document. It is issued internationally, to individuals travelling to foreign countries, where the driver's license of a particular country may not be valid.

What is the International Driving Licence (IDL)/International Driving Permit (IDP)

As mentioned earlier, it is an official travel document. The IDP is a translated copy of your original driver's license that is issued by the home country. The document principally declares that you hold a valid driver's license in your home country and includes the translation of the license into many different languages. It is essentially a validation and helps corroborate your driving credentials to authorities in different countries.

The IDL is printed in many languages including –
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • English
  • Portugese
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Scandinavian

The IDP comes with a validity of a year, from the date of issue, or till the expiry date of the original license, whichever happens, earlier.

How to apply for an International Driving Licence (IDL)

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has simplified the process for applying for an IDL or IDP. If you are travelling overseas and have a valid Indian Driver's License you can apply for the IDL on Indian soil. To do so you need to visit a Road Transport Office (RTO) in your city, with the necessary documents and submit the application, along with the requisite fee. The RTO should take approximately 3-4 working days to process the application and issue you the IDL.

The application for IDL must be submitted on a prescribed form, which is available at the RTO. Ask for the Form IV or the 'Form for the Issue of International Driving Permit'. You will also have to submit a Medical Certificate and furnish personal details along with supporting documents to the RTO along with the application. Take along copies of driver license, proof of address, PAN and Aadhar card, passport as supporting documents.

You may also be able to download the International Driving License Form from the official website of the RTO office in your city/state.

Fees for IDL

Applicants for an IDL must remit a processing fee at the RTO. This fee has to be paid at the time of submitting the application. The current fee for an International Driver's License is Rs.1000.

Documents required for submission

Since the IDL is authorised by the United Nations the eligibility criterions are uniform across signatory nations. Indian applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for an International Driver's License or Permit.

  • Applicant must have completed their eighteenth birthday
  • They must be in possession of a valid Driving License issued by the RTO
  • The applicant must apply for the IDL on the prescribed form, along with 5 passport size photographs
  • Form IV
  • Copy of the driver's license
  • Copy of the passport and Visa
  • Copy of flight tickets
  • Medical certificate
  • Application fee
  • Proof of Indian citizenship
  • Address proof
  • Age proof

Pros of possessing an International Driving License

The advantages of an International Driving Permit are plenty –
  • The document confirms your credentials as a driver and allows you to drive in a foreign land
  • Since the IDP is issued in different languages it makes it easy for authorities in nations where English is not understood to verify the information
  • You can also use the document as an ID proof in a foreign country
  • You will not have to clear additional driving tests in a foreign country, if you are in possession of the International license or permit
  • The IDP is accepted as an authentic driver's license in more than 150 nations
  • It is also accepted in a few countries that are not part of the United Nations signatories
  • Possession of an IDP makes it simpler to rent a vehicle
  • The IDP comes useful in getting insurance cover while driving

Renewal of the International Driving Permit

As per present laws governing India, an International Driving License issued in the country cannot be renewed. It is valid for a year.

Important information about International Driver's License/International Driver's Permit

  • If your Indian driver's license is only 3 months old then you will be required to take a fresh driving test, before the International license is issued in your name
  • The license is issued to Indian citizens only
  • The issuing authority is always the Regional Transport Authority
  • The application has to be submitted in person at the RTO
  • The application must be submitted to the RTO that issued the Indian Driver's license. If the license was issued in Delhi, you cannot apply for an IDL in Chennai. To do so you will need to apply for a change of address on your driver's license, before you submit your application
  • In India, no other agency other than the RTO is permitted to issue the IDL/IDP, so do not fall for fraudulent websites that offer the same

Frequently Asked Questions on IDL/IDP

In which nations is the IDL/IDP valid?
Over 150 countries, across the globe, accept the IDL and allow Indian citizens to rent and drive vehicles in their country. You may check the complete list of countries where the IDL/IDP is valid on the official website of your RTO.

Can the IDP be used to ride two-wheelers abroad?
You can, provided your original license permits you to ride a two wheeler. If it does you can rent a motorcycle or scooter and ride away.

Will my IDL/IDP serve as an identity proof?
It generally depends on the country that you are in and the circumstances. Some countries allow it as proof of identity, in certain circumstances, while some don't. You may use it as age proof to buy liquor in the UK. It is best to check the status on the Transport Authority website of the country you are visiting.

Will the IDL/IDP alone let me rent a vehicle abroad?
The IDL/IDP will need to be accompanied with your original driver's license to be recognised as a valid document.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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