Tag: international driving permit

Driving in France-A Comprehensive Tourist Guide

Renting a car and driving yourself is easily the best way to see France. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about driving in France. That way, you can rent a car and enjoy your holiday traveling around France with maximum peace of mind.
Volker Glatsch

Renting a car and driving is easily the best way to see France. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about driving in France. That way, you can rent a car and enjoy your holiday traveling around France with maximum peace of mind.

To keep things simple, we’ve divided this guide into the following sections:

Simply because you are a tourist does not mean you should drive recklessly. Respecting traffic laws applies to both citizens and tourists, and understanding the various legal requirements will save you from a lot of trouble in France.

First, in France, the driver and steering wheel is on the left side, but people drive on the right side of the road. So if in your country drivers keep right, this will be the first confusing part of driving in France. 

Do You Need An International Driving Permit In France

No! You can use your home country license to drive in France as long as you are a tourist and thus don’t intend to stay for a long time in France. Additionally, you must be over 18 years, and the license must be in the Roman alphabet. So if your country issues driving licenses to people under the age of 18, you cannot drive a car in France, but you are allowed to drive a scooter or a small motorbike.

Here are other legal requirements you need to observe when driving in France.                           

Speed Limits

Type of RoadMaximum Speed (km/h)
Main Roads within city limits50
Main Roads outside city limits80
Two-lane expressways110

Alcohol Limit

In France, you are arrested with a BAC of 0.05% or o.5g/l.

If you are a new driver i.e. you have had your license for less than three years, the limit is 0.2g/l.

Never drink and drive.

Speeding Fines

Here are penalties you can face for breaking driving laws in France:

  • French traffic authorities can impose on-the-spot fines of up to 750 euros
  • You can pay anywhere between 11 and 750 euros for breaking traffic laws. The amount can be reduced if you pay on time and increased if you are late.
  • Your vehicle can be confiscated for serious traffic offenses such as:
  1. Hit and run
  2. Refusing to stop when a traffic officer stops you
  3. Driving without a license
  4. Driving without insurance
  5. Being caught repeatedly for driving under the influence

What You need when Driving in France

A valid driving license is a must-have, no matter the country you’re in. However, there are other things you must have when driving in France, which are not all standard requirements in other countries:

  • Reflective jackets, one for each occupant, and they must be within easy reach
  • Warning triangle
  • breathalyzer/alcohol test
  • A spare bulb kit
  • Snow chains in some areas, especially during winter

Check your rental car, it should be equipped with all the necessary items listed above.

If you are on a road trip and intend to enter France by car, you can not carry meat, milk, or other dairy products brought in from outside the European Union.

Is Driving in France Safe

In general, France is perfectly safe to be discovered by car. Remember to stay alert and vigilant, just as you would in any other place around the world.

Remember to follow the traffic laws so that you don’t risk ruining your vacation with a hefty speeding ticket.

Driving In France- Key Tips

Holidays are for fun and creating beautiful memories, whether you are alone with friends or family. Nothing dampens the holiday spirit like being pulled over by police, arrested, or fined. 

So here are essential things you should know before renting a car in France.

Hands-Free and Bluetooth Devices

France has banned the use of mobile phones, Bluetooth, and hands-free devices. Keep your mobile phone away as you drive.

Road Tolls

If you intend to stick to city limits, you are safe. However, once you are out of the city limits, the major highways are toll roads, and they are marked by blue and white signs.

You pick a toll ticket when you enter the toll portion of the highway, and you will pay at the exit. Toll roads are paid by the kilometer so make sure you include these when budgeting your road trip.

Speed Camera Detectors

Speed camera detectors alert you when you are speeding so that you can slow down. But you will have to do without them when driving on French roads. If your navigation system comes with speed camera detectors, you will have to disable them unless you are ready to pay a  €1500 fine.

Clean Air Sticker

Each country has set its own rules and regulations on pollution, and French is no different. Some French cities have adopted clean air zones, and unless your car displays a clean air sticker, you may not be allowed to drive through these cities. If you are caught inside the zone without one, you will pay a fine of 64 euros.

To drive freely through the clean air zone, ensure you get a clean air sticker online by entering your vehicle’s details. The categories of vehicles that can enter clean air zones vary from city to city, so make sure you start this process before your holiday starts. That way you will organize your trip and sightseeing based on the cities you can enter with your car.

Bonus- Rent A Car In France

Looking for a rental car in France? We’ve got you covered!

Head over to Rentalmoose and find your perfect rental car for your trip to France. Browse through over 15 000 locations worldwide, pick from a selection of trusted suppliers, and choose from thousands of different vehicles.

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform. Reduce your carbon footprint when renting a car with Rentalmoose.

Click the banner below to get started!

Driving In Spain- The Ultimate Tourist Guide

Driving in Spain is one of the best ways to see this gorgeous country. Check out tips and tricks for tourists driving in Spain.

Spain is the ideal destination to discover by car. Before setting off in this exciting country, make sure you know all the regulations and rules of the road! This is your definitive guide to driving in Spain for both first-timers and experienced travelers.

Our guide covers anything from the basic legal requirements all the way to unspoken rules of the road only the locals know about. You can click any of the bullet points below to quickly jump to each blog post section.

You need to be at least 18 years old to drive a car in Spain. Note that all drivers must hold a valid driving license. Depending on where you are from, you may need an International Driving Permit as well.

Do You Need An International Driving Permit In Spain?

Yes, you do need an International Driving Permit to drive in Spain if your driving license was issued outside of the European Union. This means that travelers from countries such as the US, the UK, or Australia will need to get an IDP to drive in Spain.

If you have a driving license issued in a country that’s part of the EU, you do not need an IDP.

Tourists can use an International Driving Permit for up to 12 months in Spain. Remember that an IDP is only a translation of your original driving license. It is only valid when accompanied by your original driving license.

Speed Limits In Spain

Road TypeMaximum speed (km/h)
Residential Area20km/h
Built-up Area50km/h
Outside Cities70-100km/h

The speed limits above generally apply to most roads in Spain, unless road signs enforce a different speed limit.

Note that the speed limit on every road type is decreased to 50km/h whenever the visibility drops below 50 meters. This rarely happens, but can be caused by extreme weather conditions such as snow, fog, or heavy rainfall.

Rules Of The Road In Spain

General Rules and Regulations

You must hold a valid driving license, and an IDP if necessary, to drive a car in Spain.

Drive on the right-hand side of the road.

All occupants must have their seatbelts fastened at all times.

Drinking and driving is a crime. The maximum blood alcohol levels may not exceed 0.5g/l, or 0.25mg/l when tested with a breathalyzer. Never drink and drive.

Child Seats

Children under 135cm tall cannot ride in the front seat of a car. Additionally, they must travel in an approved child restraint, child seat, or booster seat that’s appropriate to their size.

Use of Mobile Phones

It is illegal to use a mobile phone without a hands-free kit. Texting and driving, driving with an earpiece or headphones are all traffic violations that are strictly enforced. Do not use your phone while driving in Spain, keep both hands on the wheel and focus on the road.

Overtaking and Using The Left Lane

You may only overtake on the left side. This applies to all road types, from multi-lane roads in cities to highways.

Stick to the right lane when driving on a highway. Only use the left lane to overtake slower traffic.

Right of Way

Generally speaking, the car on your right-hand side has the right of way at an intersection. Naturally, this rule only applies if there are no stop, yield signs, or traffic lights that would indicate otherwise.

Turning Right On Red

This may come as a shock to drivers coming from countries where turning right at a red light is allowed. Turning right on red is forbidden all across Europe. Some countries may have arrows next to the lights (either green or flashing yellow, depending on the country) that indicate when turning right is allowed, though.

Speeding Tickets

You will be required to pay for any traffic violations on the spot if caught red-handed. In addition, the police may impound your vehicle if you are unable to pay the speeding ticket on the spot. You will receive the vehicle back once the ticket has been settled.

For maximum peace of mind, it’s best to stick to the speed limits when driving in Spain.

Toll Roads In Spain

Most of the roads throughout Spain can be driven on for free. However, there are some paid highways and toll roads scattered around the country. The following Spanish highways are toll roads:

  • AP-51 from Villacastin to Avila
  • AP-6 from Villalba to Adanero
  • AP-61 from San Rafael to Segovia
  • AP-68 from Bilbao to Zaragoza
  • AP-71 from Leon to Astorga
  • C-32 from Castelldefels to El Vendrell

You can check out the current fees for each one of these Spanish toll roads on this website.

Local Tips For Tourists Driving In Spain

Hazard Lights On Highways

This is good practice, no matter the country you’re driving in. Turn on your car’s hazard lights when approaching a traffic jam on a highway or expressway. That way, the drivers behind you will know to slow down in time.

Driving On Roundabouts

Pay attention when approaching a roundabout in Spain, especially in busy areas.

Unnecessary Use of The Horn

Excessive and unnecessary use of the horn is not only annoying but also forbidden by law. Drivers who honk for no reason can receive a penalty.

Paid Parking In Cities

Look out for parking meters, especially in large cities. Many areas require payment to park, even on-street spots. Trying to find a parking space in Madrid or Barcelona can be a stressful and chaotic experience. You may want to look for paid parking lots ahead of time.

You cannot park within 5 meters of an intersection or a bend. Otherwise, the vehicle may be towed at your expense.

Bonus- Rent A Car in Spain

Looking for a rental car in Spain? We’ve got you covered!

Head over to Rentalmoose and find your perfect rental car for your trip to Spain. Browse through over 15 000 locations worldwide, pick from a selection of trusted suppliers, and choose from thousands of different vehicles.

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform. Reduce your carbon footprint when renting a car with Rentalmoose.

Click the banner below to get started!

three british driver licenses covered by white printed receipt

International Driving Permit- all you need to know

All you need to know about an International Driving Permit

3 uk british drivers license laying flat on white table with receipt on top

Photography by Robert Fotograf.

If you’ve read any car rental travel guides, you have probably heard about an International Driving Permit, often referred to as the “IDP”. Is an IDP really necessary? Where can you get one? Which countries recognize it? Continue reading to find the answers to any questions you have regarding an International Driving Permit.

What is an International Driving Permit?

An IDP is essentially a translation of your domestic driving license. The document allows you to drive vehicles in any country that recognizes it, as long as it’s accompanied by your physical domestic driving license. For example, a US citizen with an IDP can legally drive in over 170 countries.

In theory, it might sound like an IDP is necessary every time you drive a car outside of the country where your driving license was issued. However, that’s not exactly the case as there are various exceptions. 

Is an IDP necessary?

1 van single car on long route 66 in arizona in rural country desert and hills

Route 66 in Arizona, US. Photography by PatternPictures.

An International Driving Permit isn’t always necessary. For example, if your driving license was issued in a country that’s part of the European Union (i.e. Italy), you can drive in another EU-member state (i.e. Germany) without the need to obtain an IDP.

There are more exceptions and arrangements around the world that eliminate the need for an IDP. What are the main ones?

An IDP is not required if your domestic license meets the requirements of the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic or the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. In that case, you can use your domestic driving license without an IDP unless stated otherwise by the country you’re planning to visit.

Other exceptions include European driving licenses being valid within the European Economic Area, or the Inter-American Driving Permit that allows holders to drive in certain countries within the Americas.

A major tourist destination that doesn’t recognize the International Driving Permit is the People’s Republic of China. In order to drive in China, foreign tourists need to obtain a Chinese driving license. Contact your local Chinese embassy for details.

Keep in mind that some car rental companies might ask for an IDP as a part of their policy, even if having it is not necessary for that country. Other countries, such as Botswana or Saudi Arabia, require an IDP when hiring a rental car. Always double-check with your car rental company’s terms and conditions as often referred to T&C before you rent a car to avoid unpleasant surprises during your trip. This is why you always need to read the T&Cs!

All the regulations, exceptions and arrangements around the world can be hard to keep track of, especially if you travel frequently or cross borders during road trips.

Rentalmoose recommends having an IDP for most of your trips outside of Europe, at least as a precautionary measure.

stelvio pass touge twisty uphill paved road in alps surrounded by green grass and stones

Stelvio Pass photographed by Erich Westendarp.

How many types of IDPs are there?

IDPs are governed by three different conventions: The 1926 Paris International Convention relative to Motor Traffic, the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, and the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. If a country signed more than one convention, the newest one replaces and terminates the previous ones. 

For example, if you plan on traveling to France, which is contracting to both Geneva and Vienna conventions, the more recent 1968 Vienna convention is the current one, terminating the older 1949 Geneva convention.

How can you get an IDP?

An IDP can be obtained from your local road and traffic administration office, the same one that issues driving licenses. The process for obtaining an IDP varies slightly depending on the country your driving license was issued in. In most cases, it’s a relatively fast and simple process.

In the United States of America, drivers can apply through either the American Automobile Association or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. You can also head to your local AAA office, or mail the application.

Drivers from the UK can apply for an International Driving Permit through Post Office branches. You will need to take your domestic license, a passport-sized photograph, proof of identification and the application fee.

As for other countries, it’s usually best to check out the website of the government office that issues driving licenses and look for the IDP application. In some countries, you can apply for an International Driving Permit online.

How much does an IDP cost?

Since an IDP has to be obtained in your country’s local office, the pricing is set individually by each nation. In European countries, for example, an International Driving Permit costs 35 EUR (US$ 38). In the United States of America, an IDP costs $15 (14 EUR).

antalya long wide beach calm blue sea mountains in background and curved road in foreground sunny day in turkish riviera

A seaside road overlooking the coast of Antalya, Turkey. Photography by Erik Karits.

How long is an International Driving Permit valid for?

Once again, the validity of an International Driving Permit depends on the nation that issued the document and the type of the IDP. Most countries issue IDPs for either one or three years. For example, the 1968 IDP required to drive in EU countries is valid for three years.

International Driver Permits are valid at least from the day they are issued, and you can apply for an IDP up to 3 months in advance. It is not possible to get a backdated IDP valid before the application date.

Don’t forget to check the date of expiry on your International Driving Permit, as the document cannot be renewed. Once your IDP expires, you will have to re-apply once again, this includes submitting all of the necessary paperwork and paying the fee. 

Keep in mind that you will have to travel back to your country and re-apply if your International Driving Permit expires when you’re overseas, unless your nation supports online applications. Keep track of the expiration date to avoid unnecessary hassle.

Can every driver obtain an International Driving Permit?

Young drivers from the United Kingdom or the United States will be disappointed to hear that you need to be at least 18 years old to obtain an International Driving Permit. What’s more, your driver’s license needs to be valid for at least 6 months in order to apply for an IDP. If you meet those two requirements, you will be able to obtain an International Driving Permit without problems.

iceland ring road paved road uphill turns right and left across green fields on a wet cloudy day snow covered mountains in background

Iceland’s Ring Road photographed by Steve Riot.

Can tourists obtain an IDP in the United States?

The short answer is no. You can only obtain an International Driving Permit in the country where your driver’s license was issued. That’s why it’s crucial to get the permits before you leave for your trip, otherwise it may become impossible to rent a car (or drive at all) overseas.

In the United States, however, tourists can drive using their foreign driver’s licenses without an IDP. There are exceptions in some states, though the most frequently-visited states such as Arizona, California, Florida or Nevada don’t require an IDP.

Keep in mind it is still recommended to obtain an IDP, even when it is not legally required, in order to ease communication in the event of a traffic stop or a fender-bender. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Is an International Driving Permit the same as an International Driver’s License?

International Driving Permit is not the same as an International Driver’s License. In fact, there is no such thing as an International Driver’s License. An IDP is a permit and not any form of a license or ID card, hence it’s only valid when it’s accompanied by your physical domestic driver’s license. 

In the United States, International Driving Permits are only issued by the AAA and the AATA. In other countries, they’re only issued by the relevant government offices. BEWARE OF SCAMS. There are lots of companies claiming to issue “international driver’s licenses”, “worldwide permits” and other types of documents. None of them are real, and attempting to use them is illegal.

What happens if you drive without an International Driving Permit?

If you get caught driving without an International Driving Permit when it is required (i.e. tourist from Germany driving in Alabama, one of the US states that does require an IDP), you can get in very serious trouble. 

Most countries will treat the offense equally to not having any driving license at all, and so the offender will face serious criminal charges. In practice, it means that driving without an IDP when it is required could land you in prison. Always double-check to make sure if the country you’re going to requires foreign tourists to obtain an International Driving Permit.

Do you have any other questions regarding International Driving Permits? Perhaps you’re not sure if the country you’re going to requires obtaining an IDP? Contact your local government office for any extra information. 

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