Hoping to do some driving overseas? It’s smart to plan ahead and get your international driver's licence well before you leave Australia. 


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Discover more about international driving licences and when you may need one

Are you planning to do some overseas driving during your next trip abroad? Whether you’re planning to cross countries within Europe by road or drive short distances between towns or cities during an Asian adventure, you’ll likely need to acquire an international driver’s licence before you set off on your trip.  

In this easy-to-follow guide, we will outline what an international driver's licence is, when you may need one, and how to get one in Australia.


Skip ahead to better understand:

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Get familiar with international driving permits before you set off overseas 

What is an international driver's licence?  

Also referred to as an international driving licence or international driving permit, this type of licence is a translation of your domestic driving licence into different languages. This makes it easier for foreign officials to understand the details and regulations listed in your licence, including the type of vehicle you are allowed to drive (e.g. cars, motorbikes, etc) and how long you are allowed to operate it.  

It comes in the form of a grey booklet, which includes details about your licence in the following nine languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Russian
  • Chinese
  • Arabic
  • Greek
  • German
  • Japanese.

Importantly, an international driving licence does not replace or supersede your official Australian driver’s licence or permit. It is a supplement, meaning you must carry your regular driving licence alongside it if you’re planning to drive overseas.


When will I need an international driver's licence?  

If you are planning to drive while travelling in another country, it is important to check the local regulations regarding international driver's licences before making any arrangements.  

Some countries require an international driving permit, while others may accept your domestic permit.  

It is always best to research the laws of the country you are travelling to before leaving home and make sure you have all documents ready for inspection at the border.

You may also find that some overseas car rental companies require an international driving permit — sometimes even if the permit is not mandatory under the country’s driving laws. Knowing this, consider organising an international driving licence ahead of time if you are thinking of driving during your overseas holiday.       

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Which countries require an international driving licence?  

Each country has different requirements for international driver's licence holders, so it is important to check your destination’s regulations in advance.  

There are some countries that require an international driving licence, including but not limited to:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • Switzerland.

It is also important to note that certain types of vehicles may require a different type of permit or endorsement, and some countries may require a completely different type of driving licence.  

If you’re unsure of whether you need an international driving permit for your destination,  check with the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) to confirm the country’s requirements.


How do I get an international driver’s licence in Australia?  

In Australia, you can apply for an international driving permit through the AAA. You have the option of completing the application online or visiting a retail branch to do this.

You will need the following to apply for an international driving licence:

  • Your current driver’s licence
  • A recent passport photo
  • A credit card for payment.  

Once your application is approved, you will receive an international driver’s licence valid for up to 12 months from the date of issue.

Importantly, the AAA is the only authority that is permitted to organise international driver’s licences on behalf of the Australian Government. If you get your permit from a different authority or company, there is a chance it may be fraudulent and therefore invalid.

With all of this information on hand, it’s now time to get your international driving licence in preparation for your upcoming overseas trip! Driving is a wonderful way to explore new places at your own pace, and can likely give you plenty of opportunities to be spontaneous and make lifelong memories.  


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7 tips for staying safe on the road while driving overseas

No matter where you are travelling, it is important to take safety precautions while driving.  

Here are some tips that may help you stay safe while driving overseas:

  • Be aware of speed limits and obey them at all times.  
  • If you’re renting a vehicle, ensure it has a spare tyre in case of an emergency.  
  • Take regular breaks to rest, and do not drive if you are feeling tired.  
  • Make sure your vehicle has been regularly serviced and the brakes are working correctly.  
  • Be aware of local laws and weather conditions to avoid any potential hazards.  
  • Avoid using your mobile phone while driving, including text messaging.  
  • Always ensure you and your passengers wear a seatbelt when travelling in the vehicle.  

Following these simple tips will likely help you have a safer driving holiday abroad. Have a wonderful and safe journey!



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