Many years ago, as I prepared to leave for the UK to pursue my higher studies, I was advised to get myself an International Driving Permit. It will allow you to drive in the UK, I was told. I wondered how any authority in India could issue a permit which allowed an Indian citizen to drive in another country. Later in the UK, I found out that foreigners can drive for a year from the date of their arrival on the strength of the driving licence issued by their home countries. The UK did not care whether the Indian driving licence was an ordinary Indian driving licence or an International Driving Permit issued by an Indian authority.
The above is true of most English speaking countries. They do not differentiate between a standard driving licence and an International Driving Permit. Why then do so many people spend money in acquiring an International Driving Permit before venturing overseas?
International Driving Permits are issued under an international convention which allows member countries to issue such permits for use overseas. The idea is to facilitate residents of one state to drive in another, until they are settled in the new state.
I did a quick survey and found that in the UK, New Zealand, most states of the USA, most states of Australia, Canada etc., a standard driving licence will suffice, provided it’s in English. Even in Germany, an International Driving Permit is not required if the licence is in English. Which means, Indians can drive with an Indian licence. On the other hand, in places like Japan where local policemen would have problems deciphering a driving licence written in English, an International Driving Permit is required.
I’m told that even in a developing country like the Philippines (where English is widely used), Indians can drive using their Indian driving licences for three months from the date of arrival, after which they need to get a local driving licence. If you are travelling to Manila, don’t waste your time and money on an International Driving Permit. Your Indian licence will do.
In Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates, visitors need an International Driving Permit to drive. The IDP must be accompanied by the Indian licence. Once a visitor has been issued a UAE resident visa, a UAE driving licence is required. In Saudi Arabia too visitors need an International Driving Permit to drive and can do so only for 3 months. The IDP must be accompanied by the Indian licence.
Go on then, before investing time and money in acquiring an International Driving Permit, do find out if it is really required. In most cases, it is not. Your ordinary driving licence will suffice.
You better read this, if nothing else: This blogpost is not meant to be legal advice and don’t you come to me looking for compensation if you rely on the stuff above and make a fool of yourself. Please move your arse and verify the facts for yourself. Also, I am generally a lazy bum and am unlikely to update this shit even if the facts change.