What Happens When Your International Driving Permit Expires?

An international driving permit is a document needed to drive when in a foreign country. It’s also required to rent a vehicle abroad. This document needs to be valid while you’re on the road and you can’t use it once it expires.

You’re not legally allowed to drive with an expired permit and you’ll be treated as if you don’t have a permit at all. In some cases, this means paying a fine but it can be worse than that depending on the circumstances.

When does The Permit Expire?

The permit is valid for a year. Once this period expires the permit is no longer valid and you can renew it. The date when the permit was issued can be found on the document itself and that’s the due date for renewing it within a year as well.

Your national permit expires within five years and when it expires your international permit won’t be valid either. The same goes for not having a valid ID document since you’ll need to provide it as well.  Keep in mind that an ID and national permit can’t be renewed when abroad.

How to Renew the Document?

The document is renewed by the International Drivers Association (IDA). It’s the same agency that issued the permit for the first time. It can be renewed online by providing the proper documents and producing a form with some personal information. You’ll also need to cover a small fee.

The permit requires you to show two photos similar to those that are used to make a passport. All of these documents and items need to be provided when renewing the permit as well. It takes a bit longer for the permit to arrive when you’re renewing it while abroad.

What Can Happen When the Permit Expires?

If you’re caught driving with an expired permit, you’ll get a fine. This is usually a simple fine where you need to pay the amount you’re ordered up to a certain date and there are no other repercussions. Things can be more complicated than that if you’ve also broken other traffic rules.

The fines could be more severe if this isn’t the first time you’re caught driving without the proper documents. In some countries, your vehicle can also be impounded until the issue is resolved. Japan is known for deporting foreigners without the proper documents.

Countries That Don’t Allow You To Drive With a Renewed Permit

Some countries don’t allow foreigners to drive with a renewed permit if they’ve been in the country for over a year. This means you can use the renewed permit if you haven’t spent the whole lifespan of your permit in the country in question.

If a person has spent more than a year in one of those countries, they will be able to apply for a local permit. This is the case in most EU countries. Keep in mind that you need to pass the driver’s exam when applying for such a permit. In some countries, it’s also required to pass a first aid exam when getting a permit. It can be challenging if the practice is new to you.

How to Avoid the Problem?

The best way to avoid the issue altogether is to make sure you know when your permit expires. This is especially important if you plan to travel a lot and you don’t want to end up without a permit while abroad.

If you notice that the due date is approaching within months, you should start collecting the documents and applying for a permit. That way you can buy yourself peace of mind and travel safely and without a care. If you’re traveling as a tourist, you can focus on the experience instead of worrying about administrative issues. In general, try to follow the traffic regulations when abroad and your trip will be much easier and safer.

When an International Permit Isn’t Needed?

Some countries don’t require you to have an international permit at all. They allow citizens of certain countries to travel with their national permit only. This is a good thing to know if you’re on a long road trip and you’re waiting for the international permit to be renewed.

Such policy is arranged between the US and Canada, as well as between US and Mexico. EU citizens can also travel from one country to another within the EU with their national permits only. Russia allows US citizens to drive for a year without an international permit as well.

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