Mobility » Driving » What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

By IntFormalities
Updated on March 17, 2022
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Are you planning to travel abroad? Once you’ve checked your passport is still valid, and you have learnt about entry requirements and travel restrictions, it may be a good idea to look into how you will get around places. 

Depending on your budget, preferences, and how long you are planning to stay, you may choose different means of transport. However, driving may be the one to give you the freedom to move around quickly and conveniently that you are looking for.

If this sounds like the best choice for you, you may need to apply for an IDP or International Driving Permit. As its name suggests, it’s a document that will allow you to drive a vehicle in a foreign country without having to sit for any tests. It can only be applied for as long as you also hold a Canadian driving licence, so know that the type of vehicle the IDP will enable you to drive will be the one displayed in your Canadian licence. 

Who needs to apply?

Depending on your destination country, you may not need to apply for an IDP if you hold a Canadian driving licence. This is the case if you are travelling to the U.S., for example. However, if you’re visiting any country which has signed the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic, you will need to apply for an IDP to drive. You can find the list of the countries that signed the convention here.

Please note: as some countries may have restrictions in place regarding the amount of time you can drive there, we suggest you check with the embassy or consulate of your destination country in Canada before you travel. 

How can I apply?

IDPs are issued at your local Canadian Automobile Association store. You can visit the store in person, or mail the required documentation. Due to the recent restrictions put in place in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, we suggest you check whether this is possible with the store before dropping in. To find your closest CAA store, you can follow this link.

If you are currently outside Canada, you can still apply by mail. You must include a note stating you’re not in Canada and provide the address to which you would like your IDP to be mailed.

What documents do I need to submit?

To apply for an IDP, you must be over 18 years old, have a valid Canadian driver’s licence (notice that a learner’s permit won’t be valid), and submit the following documentation:

Cost, processing times, and validity

The fee to obtain your IDP is $25.00 CDN plus tax. You can pay in cash or with a credit card. But if you want to pay by credit card, you will need to phone your local store to ask for instructions. 

Processing times differ depending on whether you apply in person or by mail. It will usually take an hour if you apply in-store, or up to 2 working days if you send the required documentation by mail. However, COVID restrictions may affect normal processing times, so make sure you check this with your local store.  

The IDP is valid for 1 year from the moment it’s issued or until the provincial licence expires (whatever happens first).

Now you know

If you’re planning to drive while you are abroad, you need to check whether you’ll need an International Driving Permit. Remember to check you have a valid Canadian Driving Permit before you submit the required documentation to the nearest Canadian Automobile Association store.  Best of luck with your application! We hope you enjoy driving abroad. 

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