Recently I obtained my International Driving Permit which I’ve been told is necessary for renting a car and driving in Italy. There is some debate in the various travel forums about whether or not it is needed, but the consensus is that the requirement for an International Driving Permit has been recently enforced.
While I could not find an Italian government source for the requirement (likely because I was Googling in English), the US Embassy site for Italy says that you should obtain one, which is good enough for me.
In British Columbia you don’t go to the Motor Vehicles Branch or the Insurance Corporation of BC to acquire an International Driving Permit (IDP). To get what I would have thought would be a government issued document you go to the Canadian Auto Association (CAA) or in BC the British Columbia Auto Association (BCAA). Likewise, if you are from the United States you get one at AAA.
The document itself is little more than a translation of the license type and restrictions of your local drivers license, which explains why it isn’t issued by a government agency. Furthermore, when they issued the “permit” to me they stressed that I must always have my actual drivers license with me at all times.
My International Driving Permit follows the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic of 1949, although according to Wiki there were also conventions in 1929 and 1968. Looking at the document itself, it looks like it hasn’t changed much since 1949, right down to the retro fonts.
The permit is also pretty simple. There are 5 standard vehicle types that are covered by the permit and the issuing agency selects the class that matches your local license.
A. Motorcycles, with or without a sidecar, invalid carriages and three-wheeled motor vehicles with an unladen weight not exceeding 400kn (900lbs)
B. Motor vehicles used for the transport of passengers and comprising, in addition to the driver’s seat, at most eight seats, or those used for the transport of goods and having a permissible maximum weight not exceeding 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs). Vehicles in this class may be coupled with a light trailer.
C. Motor vehicles used for the transport of goods and of which the permissible weight exceeds 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs).Vehicles in this class may be coupled with a light trailer.
D. Motor vehicles used for the transport of passengers and comprising, in addition to the driver’s seat, more than eight seats. Vehicles in this class may be coupled with a light trailer.
E. Motor vehicles of categories B, C, or D, as authorized above, with other than a light trailer.
On the back page of the IDP the issuing agency includes name, address, date of birth, address, and a photo. An authorized stamp is used to mark the permitted vehicle category and the photo. The inside pages of the booklet include each of the above vehicle class descriptions in what appears to be English, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German, Arabic, Italian, Scandinavian, Portuguese, and French.
To obtain my IDP I went to one of the local BCAA offices and filled out a pretty simple form. They then took two passport photos of me, looked at my BC Driver’s License, and charged me $15 for the IDP and $9 for the passport photos. To qualify you must be 18 years old and have a valid Canadian driver’s license. The permit is valid for 1 year. I was in and out in about 15 minutes.