Steer Clear of Bogus International Driving Permits
If you plan to travel overseas and drive while you're there, it's a
good idea to get an international driving permit (IDP) to accompany
your U.S. state-issued driver's license. But make sure your IDP is
from one of two associations authorized to issue IDP's in the U.S. -
the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile
Touring Alliance (AATA). According to the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, IDPs sold and issued
by any other organization to U.S. residents are bogus and could cause
problems with local authorities if you are caught driving with one.
What's an IDP?
An IDP is an official document that translates your U.S. state-issued
driver's license into 10 foreign languages. Although many foreign
countries don't recognize U.S. drivers' licenses, most countries
accept IDPs that have been issued on behalf of the United States. Your
IDP may not be valid unless you present it with your U.S. driver's
What does an official IDP look like?
An official IDP is a gray, multi-page booklet with "UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA" printed at the top of the cover, and the seal of either the
AAA or AATA in the middle of the cover. Both AAA and AATA charge less
than $20 for an IDP. If you're asked to pay more, consider it a
tip-off to a rip-off.
FTC attorneys have found that individuals or companies not authorized
to issue IDPs on behalf of the U.S. government are selling fake IDPs
over the Internet, through unsolicited email and in person for prices
ranging from $60 to $400. If you buy a fake IDP, not only will you be
paying for a worthless document, you also could be facing legal
problems or travel delays if you're detained for using it to drive in
a foreign country.
How can I get an official IDP?
You must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver's license
issued by a U.S. state or territory to buy an official IDP. For more
information, contact your local AAA office or the AATA. To reach the
AAA, check the White Pages of your telephone directory or visit
www.aaa.com. To reach the AATA, call 1-650-294-7000 (M-F, 8:30-5:00
Pacific Time); fax: 1-650-294-7040; or email: email@example.com;
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
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