Are you a Digital Nomad? Find out how to get an International Driver’s License!

Just because you know how to drive and have a paper to prove it in the United States, it doesn’t mean that the same scenario works when you’re visiting foreign countries. We know that sounds really confusing, but some states require an international driving permit in order to operate a motor vehicle.

So, if you don’t plan on getting in trouble with the law, there are some things you can do to cover all the possible outcomes. Without further ado, let’s get into details on how to obtain an international driver’s license as soon as possible!

Why do you need it in the first place?

As digital nomads like to travel a lot and discover interesting new places. Well, there’s no better way of doing so than by taking a car and getting off the main road, to see what the local life is truly about. However, while most countries do honor the U.S. license, there are more than a few who don’t. If you want to be on the safe side, you will want to get it over with quickly and not have to think and plan ahead every time you need to cross the border.

Additionally, popular places digital nomads love to visit, such as Indonesia or Vietnam do not honor the U.S. driver’s licenses, so if this was your target destination, you might want to make sure you got it all sorted out ahead of time.

Where to obtain it?

Actually, this step is pretty simple and requires close to no effort. Just track down your nearest AAA location, fill out some forms, take a few photos and pay a fee of $15, and there you go, job well done. After that, all you have to do is wait a few moments for the license to arrive, and you’ll be all set.

The basic documents you’re going to need include:

  • A valid driver’s license.
  • A couple of passport sized photos, which you can take on the spot.
  • $15 for paying all the fees.

You might’ve noticed that we advise you to do this prior to going out on a trip, because it gets more complicated after you reach your remote location. However, in case you didn’t have the time, or you simply forgot about it, don’t sweat it, you can still apply remotely. Sadly, in case you apply online, you will have to wait for 4-6 weeks in order to get your permit. Some people just don’t have the luxury to wait for so long, and that’s why it’s better to think ahead.

There’s some good news though. In case you were worried, you will not have to go through this ordeal every time you head out on a trip. Instead, once you obtain the license, it will be valid for a whole year. All of that for just $20 and a few minutes of your time. It certainly seems worth it. Furthermore, when you’re traveling abroad, make sure to bring both your standard valid U.S. driver’s license, as well as the international one, just to be on the safe side.

What does this license look like?

Unlike the modern documents which come with chips and take up minimal amounts of space, international driver’s license is a booklet type of document, which makes it seem very old fashioned. Even worse, it takes up some space, which might annoy some individuals, but we did not make up the rules.

On the positive side, this license contains translation to 10 major world languages, which can mean a lot if you find yourself in a foreign country, where English is not a commonly spoken language. Furthermore, even though it looks outdated, international driver’s license is still honored in 150+ countries around the world, making it a very valuable document. At the end of the day, every digital nomad who plans on driving in a foreign country should get one of these. You never know when it might come in handy.


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