How to Get an International Driving Permit

While researching places to visit in Taiwan, my husband suggested that we may want to drive while we are there. Unfortunately, we cannot merely use our US Driver’s Licenses. Imagine getting pulled over by a Chinese-speaking police officer. I could show him my License, but how could he know that it is legitimate?

To drive in Taiwan, we need International Driving Permits, which translate and validate our licenses in 11 languages. Although we don’t have concrete plans to drive anywhere while we are overseas, we want to keep our options open. Getting an International Driving Permit is surprisingly simple. Using a US license, apply at a AAA office.

Last Saturday morning, my husband and I decided it was time to act. We drove to the nearest AAA. Since our 19-year-old son may be joining us in Taiwan, he tagged along and applied as well.

Thinking AAA opened at 8, we left home right after breakfast to beat the rush. When we arrived at 9, however, only the Car Care counter was open. We went out for coffee and returned an hour later when the main reception area was staffed.

When the AAA agent arrived, we asked to apply for International Driving Permits. She handed each of us a short application and directed us to the Customer Lounge to fill them out.

After completing the forms, we returned to the counter, where she took passport photos of each of us.

While the pictures printed, the agent verified our information and dated our Driving Permit booklets with our arrival date in Taiwan. They will be valid for a year starting on that date.

Next, we signed the back of each photo and the final page in the Permit folio.

We had wondered if they would require a particular form of payment like a money order. We needn’t have worried. AAA accepts cash, checks, and credit cards for this service.

Each International Driving Permit costs $20. AAA charges $12 for each set of passport pictures, but members receive a $4 discount.

I was pleasantly surprised that we received our Driving Permits on the spot. I had expected it to take up to 6 weeks for processing.

Once we arrived home, I filed our newly acquired permits with our Passports. When we fly to Taiwan, We will be sure to take our US Driver’s Licenses along also—the International Permits are not valid without them.

Our Taiwan trip will be here before we know it, and we plan to be prepared. Will it be necessary to drive in Taiwan? Certainly not. Public transportation there is safe, widespread, and inexpensive. On the other hand, it’s exciting to imagine the possibility of being able to drive a car to explore less accessible areas of Taiwan.

Have you driven a car overseas? Tell me about your experience in the comments.