International driver’s license: How I got mine

In Korea, no one really needed to drive. My friend, Loren, ended up getting his license, but he’s been there a while and married to a Korean woman. Most everyone else, including Koreans who’ve lived there forever, doesn’t usually drive unless they have a family.

In Saudi Arabia, though, that might be different. I’m assuming I won’t need to drive, but you never know. If I travel at all, I might want to rent a car or borrow one at some point.

So, all that said, I thought I’d look into getting an international driver’s license (IDL) or an international driver’s permit (IDP), which seem like the same thing now that I’ve looked into it. Either way, as turns out, the process isn’t that difficult. I did it in like six steps and maybe an hour of time total:

  1. Googled it. Like anything else, right? I started by trying to figure out how much it would cost and what all was involved in the process.
  2. Found this link. I found some others as well, but that one seemed like the cheapest, easiest route to go. I like that I wouldn’t have to send anything in to do it.
  3. Googled to find a close AAA office. Thanks to the maps online, this was super easy.
  4. Called the AAA branch to verify that they do it. I asked when they closed too to make sure I could make it in time.
  5. Visited the AAA office. I guess this works nationwide. Just drop in, and they can set it all up for you. I brought two identical passport photos because I already had them. If I didn’t, though, they could have done them for me there, probably for a hefty fee, though, and I wanted to avoid that. The process itself cost $15.
  6. Filled out the form and signed everything. This took five minutes. In that time, they’d set up the permit with my photo in it. (You can find the form here to print off and fill out ahead of time or send in by mail if you like.) Easy as that, I was walking out with the ability to legally drive in a whole mess of places.*

The license or permit itself is a booklet, about the size of a passport book, to leave space for it to be printed in a dozen or so major languages. It’s only good for one year, and I have to show my Kentucky driver’s license with it for it to work. Together, though, they can work as a form of ID abroad as well.

Overall, it’s probably the cheapest and fastest way to start feeling all Jason Bourne with your international papers, even if you never officially use it.

*Here’s the whole list of places I can drive with this license:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, C.I.S., Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde Island, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Rep., Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France (include French overseas), French Polynesia, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kampuchea, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea (Rep.), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Leone, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Moldova, Morocco, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Polynesia, Portugal (includes Madeira & Azores), Principe, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Russia, San Marion, Sao Tome, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St.Christopher, Nevis & Anguill, Surinam, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Venezuela, Verde Islands, Vietnam, Western Samoa, Windward Islands, Yemen (Rep.), Yugoslavia, Zaire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.