Is your US Driving license valid in other countries?

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If you are among those people who often travel to various countries but still holding an U.S. Driving License with you. You must definitely imagine whether this license shall ever be helpful to you or valid in some other country, then it is necessary to understand that where and for how long you shall be staying in that particular country. Your trip dependency is going to decide which paper work process is needed to start right now. Whether you think of driving in that particular country or not still having US Driving License can benefit you in many ways. Let us discuss with each and every legal detail that revolves around this particular license.

  • U.S. driver’s licenses are valid in both Canada and Mexico. But many other countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses, according to the U.S. State Department. For those countries, you’ll typically need an International Driving Permit.
  • Whichever country you wish to visit, it is always necessary to check into the official websites of the State Department for specific travel reports. This also includes a section on “travel Safety and Road Conditions” that can explain you better the rules and regulations before you opt to go behind the wheels abroad. The reports also advise you on local laws about drinking and driving, and the use of cell phones while driving. Warnings about unsafe road conditions are also included.
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  • Another important factor is you cannot completely assume that if a country accepts a particular country’s driving license this could lead to vice versa. No! never make that mistake. For an instance, if the U.S driving license is valid in Canada, that doesn’t mean Canada’s DL is valid in U.S. Driving in U.S with a Canadian DL is severely punishable.
  • Here are some well known countries those easily accept U.S driving license for permitting to drive over there. However, there are countries which do not necessarily require the International Driving Permit license (IDP) whereas there are countries which only accept IDP or accepts any foreign license along with IDP compulsorily. For instance, if you even possess a valid DL from your home nation, yet you are restricted from driving since you do not possess IDP with you.
  • Below mentioned are only those important countries frequently travelled by the residents of US:
  1. UK (1 year)
  2. Canada
  3. Mexico
  4. Australia (3 months)
  5. Europe (6 months)
  6. Russia
  7. China (3 months)
  8. Austria (6 months)
  9. Afghanistan (1 year)
  10. Bahamas (3 months)
  11. Belgium (atleast 18 years of age)
  12. Brazil (180 days)
  13. Brunei
  14. Chile (90 days)
  15. Columbia
  16. Cuba
  17. Denmark
  18. Dominican Republic
  19. Ecuador
  20. Egypt
  21. Fiji
  22. Finland (1 year)
  23. Ireland
  24. Israel
  25. Iceland
  26. Malaysia
  27. Panama
  28. Philippines
  29. New Zealand (12 months)
  30. Singapore
  31. France (12 months)
  32. Germany (6 months)
  33. Hungary (12 months)
  34. South Africa
  35. Sweden
  36. Switzerland
  37. Turkey (6 months)
  38. UAE
  39. Zambia
  40. Zimbabwe
  • The countries which strictly do not accept the US Driving License are:
    • India
    • Japan
    • Kuwait
    • Italy

There many other countries which do not accept US DLs other than IDP but the most prominent ones are mentioned above.

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Read the important points below that explains about the rules and regulations if you possess a U.S. Driving License:

  • Research International Road Rules:If you are thinking of visiting another country with a U.S Driving License, familiarize yourself with a few important pieces of country-specific information.
  • The Consular Information Program/ Smart Traveller Enrolment Program (STEP)provides ton of descriptive information about public conditions in every country in the world.
  • Local laws and special circumstances, including:
    • Learning about local violations and penalties.
    • What to do if you’re arrested.
    • How to legally and safely drive in the country, including information about:
    • Road conditions and safety.
    • Traffic laws, including:
    • Drinking and driving.
    • Cell phone use.
    • Speed limits.
  • Differences between roads and vehicles in your host country versus the United States.For example, U.K. drivers drive on the left side of the road; as such, the “driver’s side” of their vehicles is on the left.
  • Prepare International Driving Documents: Don’t expect to just swoop into the country and hit the highways carefree. There are several preparations to make—and laws to learn—before driving abroad.
  • International Driving Permit: Other countries often require an International Driving Permit (IDP), and many countries require an IDP along with your U.S. driver’s license—meaning, you must carry both together. An IDP provides an official translation of your U.S.-issued driver’s license into various foreign languages. In addition to making, it legal for you to drive, an IDP is also recognized as a valid form of identification in many countries. Currently, you can get a government-authorized IDP with the following agencies:
    • American Automobile Association (AAA).
    • National Auto Club (NAC).

**Many drivers can rely on their U.S. driver licenses in Mexico and Canada; however, this can depend on how far into these countries you plan to travel. EXAMPLE: According to the National Auto Club, you need an IDP if you plan to drive over 50 miles into Canada or 300 miles into Mexico.

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  • Age Restrictions: Be sure to check the legal driving age in your destination country. For example, currently the AAA will only issue an IDP to drivers who are at least 18 years old. So, while you might be old enough to drive in the foreign country, you might not be old enough to obtain an IDP—which, depending on the country, could affect your ability to legally driving.
  • Car Insurance: Car insurance while traveling abroad can get tricky. For example, your policy might be valid in Mexico or Canada, but not overseas. On the other hand, even if your policy is valid overseas, it might not meet that country’s minimum requirements. You’ll want to ask your current car insurance agent where your policy is valid. Your agent also might be able to tell you how to purchase additional coverage to meet that country’s requirements.
  • Renting a Car: Many U.S. drivers rent a car when traveling abroad and most rental agencies provide car insurance. Some tips for renting a car as well as getting the best auto coverage include:
    • Check with your insurance provider about whether your current policy extends to rental vehicles (specifically, foreign rental vehicles). Don’t wait until you arrive to rent a vehicle.
    • Renting well in advance gives you time to find the best rates as well as research the country’s car insurance requirements and any additional coverage you want (or must have) such as roadside assistance.
    • Book your rental car with a major credit card.
    • Some credit cards offer additional protection in case your rental vehicle is damaged or stolen.
    • Also, if you’re traveling beyond the borders of just one country, speak with your car insurance provider and credit card company about how their policies and protections extend to multiple countries.

How to Get an International Driving Permit

  • So how do you go about obtaining an International Driving Permit? You can get them through either the American Automobile Association or the National Automobile Club. These two groups have been authorized by the State Department to issue IDPs.
  • An IDP is actually a document that you carry around along with your driver’s license. It translates your license into 10 other languages.
  • It’s recognized in more than 150 countries, according to AAA. (Americans headed to Brazil or Uruguay, however, will need a different document called an Inter-American Driving Permit.)
  • International driver’s license laws may vary depending on where you go. So be sure to check up on regulations before you drive abroad.

List of Countries Where the International Driver License Is Currently Accepted

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Albania
  3. Algeria
  4. Andorra
  5. Angola
  6. Antigua
  7. Argentina
  8. Armenia
  9. Aruba
  10. Australia
  11. Austria
  12. Azerbaijan
  13. Bahamas
  14. Bahrain
  15. Bangladesh
  16. Barbados
  17. Belarus
  18. Belgium
  19. Belize
  20. Benin
  21. Bhutan
  22. Bolivia
  23. Brazil
  24. Botswana
  25. Brunei
  26. Bulgaria
  27. Burkina Faso
  28. C.I.S.
  29. Cameroon
  30. Canada
  31. Cape Verde Island
  32. Cayman Islands
  33. Central African Rep.
  34. Chad
  35. Chile
  36. Colombia
  37. Comoros
  38. Congo
  39. Costa Rica
  40. Croatia
  41. Cuba
  42. Curacao
  43. Cyprus
  44. Czech Rep.
  45. Denmark
  46. Djibouti
  47. Dominican Republic
  48. Ecuador
  49. Egypt
  50. El Salvador
  51. Equatorial Guinea
  52. Estonia
  53. Fiji
  54. Finland
  55. France (include French overseas territories)
  56. French Polynesia
  57. Gabon
  58. Gambia
  59. Germany
  60. Georgia
  61. Ghana
  62. Gibraltar
  63. Greece
  64. Grenada
  65. Guatemala
  66. Guernsey
  67. Guinea
  68. Guinea-Bissau
  69. Guyana
  70. Haiti
  71. Honduras
  72. Hong Kong
  73. Hungary
  74. Iceland
  75. India
  76. Indonesia
  77. Iran
  78. Ireland
  79. Israel
  80. Italy
  81. Ivory Coast
  82. Jamaica
  83. Jersey
  84. Jordan
  85. Kampuchea
  86. Kazakhstan
  87. Kenya
  88. Kuwait
  89. Kyrgyzstan
  90. Laos
  91. Latvia
  92. Lebanon
  93. Leone
  94. Lesotho
  95. Liberia
  96. Libya
  97. Liechtenstein
  98. Lithuania
  99. Luxembourg
  100. Macao
  101. Madagascar
  102. Malawi
  103. Malaysia
  104. Mali
  105. Malta
  106. Mauritania
  107. Mauritius
  108. Mexico
  109. Monaco
  110. Moldova
  111. Morocco
  112. Montserrat
  113. Mozambique
  114. Myanmar
  115. Namibia
  116. Nepal
  117. Netherlands
  118. New Caledonia
  119. New Guinea
  120. New Zealand
  121. Nicaragua
  122. Niger
  123. Nigeria
  124. Norway
  125. Oman
  126. Pakistan
  127. Panama
  128. Papua   New-Guinea
  129. Paraguay
  130. Peru
  131. Philippines
  132. Poland
  133. Polynesia
  134. Portugal (includes Madeira & Azores)
  135. Principe
  136. Qatar
  137. Romania
  138. Rwanda
  139. Russia
  141. San Marino
  142. Sao Tome
  143. Saudi Arabia
  144. Senegal
  145. Seychelles
  146. Sierra Leone
  147. Singapore
  148. Slovakia
  149. Slovenia
  150. Spain
  151. South Africa
  152. Sri Lanka
  153. St.Christopher,    Nevis & Anguilla
  154. Surinam
  155. Swaziland
  156. Sweden
  157. Switzerland
  158. Sudan
  159. Syria
  160. Taiwan
  161. Tajikistan
  162. Tanzania
  163. Thailand
  164. Togo
  165. Trinidad Tobago
  166. Tunisia
  167. Turkey
  168. Turkmenistan
  169. Uruguay
  170. Uganda
  171. Ukraine
  172. UAE
  173. United Kingdom
  174. USA
  175. Uzbekistan
  176. Vatican City
  177. Venezuela
  178. Verde Islands
  179. Vietnam
  180. Western Samoa
  181. Windward Islands
  182. Yemen (Rep.)
  183. Yugoslavia
  184. Zaire
  185. Zambia
  186. Zimbabwe

** the International Driver License is NOT VALID in Mainland China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea.

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How to Apply for a US Driving License

Yes, it might sound crazy that while throughout the article it is discussed about using US DL in other countries, then what is the need for applying to a US Driving License, when you already have it. Fact is no country is responsible for the loss or invalidity of your US DL while you are at their country. If in case you happen to be a US resident, and lose this document in another country, then this section of the article is going to help you retrieve back or prepare a new one.

Step 1: Get Your Documents Ready

Before you go to the local branch of Department of Motor Vehicles, make sure you have all the right documents on you. Typically, at least some of the following documents are required for application:

  • A form of ID that has your name, picture, and your date of birth on it (passport)
  • Your Social Security Number or a proof that you cannot obtain one
  • Proof of lawful presence in the US (visa, permanent resident card, citizenship certification, etc.)
  • Proof of residence in that state (state ID, utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
  • Your international driver’s license
  • Passport photo (in some cases this will be taken during the application process)
  • You will then need to fill out an application form with your personal details.
  • The legal age for driving varies throughout the country, so make sure that you are eligible to apply for a license. However, if you are 21 or older, this will not be a problem.

Step 2: Pay Your Fees

The fees for a driver’s license, once again, depend on the state you are residing in. Some states charge a one-time fee that can be anything from 30 to 90 USD, while others might charge you a small sum (5 USD or so) every year. Depending on the state this step can also come in later, as in some places you are charged for application and in others, for issuing the document.

Step 3: Take Your Tests

In order to obtain your license, you will need to pass both a written and a practical test.

Written tests include 20 to 50 questions about the traffic rules and regulations of the state. The tests might be timed or not and you might have an option to take the test in your native language as well. You can study your state’s DMV handbook and practice taking the test online.

Once you passed the written test, you will have to schedule your practice exam. Apart from driving, expect to be asked to show your parking and reversing skills and the knowledge of vehicles and its controls. The exam can take from 30 to 40 minutes.

If you fail to pass the practice exam the first time, some states will require you to wait a few days or week before you can try again. There might be additional fees for extra tests that you take. Also, in some places, three failed attempts mean that you have to restart the application process all over again.

Step 4: Get Your Vision Tested

While the law does not require you to pass a thorough medical exam to get a driver’s license, you do need to get your vision tested before you are certified to drive. You can usually do it at your local DMV office or get a medical professional to issue you a vision test report.If you need glasses or contacts in order to drive, a special restriction might be placed on your license. Drivers with very low vision might also get additional restriction that will only allow them to drive during daytime or if they are wearing special lenses.This step might also come in earlier, before you take your practical exam.

Step 5: Get Your License

Once all the documents are submitted and the exams are passed, you will get issued a temporary license that will be valid 30 to 90 days, depending on the state. You will get your permanent license mailed to your address.

Can it be used as a photo id or identification document?

  • Driver’s license in the US can serve as a form of an ID that you can use to vote or prove your legal age or, in some cases, even board a domestic flight.
  • In most states, driver licenses are valid for eight years, but it varies. Some states require a renewal after four years, while others let you keep your license until you turn 65. You can check the license renewal regulations of your state online.
  • Reciprocity Agreements

Some US states have so-called reciprocity agreements with other countries. This means that if you’re driving permit has been issued in one of these countries, you will be able to simply exchange it for a US driving license of that state (and typically vice versa) without having to take any tests. Those countries include:

  • Canada
    • France
    • Germany
    • South Korea
    • Taiwan
    • Japan
  • Again, note that the eligibility for the exchange depends on the state you are in, as reciprocity agreements are state-specific. Also, keep in mind that you might still be required to pay the appropriate fees and get your vision checked to get your US license equivalent.
  • If your country is not on this list, it might still be worthwhile to enquire whether there have been any new agreements made.
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How many licensed drivers were there in US 2020?

In order to know the number of licensed drivers available in US, the report has been picked up from the data of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). So, the wait is over and the result as per the year 2020 is: 230,000,000 (Year 2020). However, the statics got disturbed due to the pandemic which massively affected people to get down to roads especially when US was the highest on the list to have the highest number of corona patients and the rapid deaths.


1950s- <3.6%

1960s- >2.51%

1970s- <2.84%





2012- declined

2020- not yet updated


  • The percentage of Americans with driver’s licenses compared to the total population, with population estimates from the Bureau of the Census.
  • Across all age groups, 84.6% of all Americans have a driver’s license.The lowest percentage of total licensed drivers is among 16- to 19-year-olds, where 51.7% of the population have a driver’s license.Statistics are based on 2017 population estimates.


  • The split between driver’s licenses held by male licensed drivers and female licensed drivers is very even.
  • Based on 2017 data, 49.5% of all licensed drivers are male and 50.5% are male.
  • Part of the reason the percentage is higher for female licensed drivers is related to life expectancy.
  • In a younger age bracket, ages up to 24, that ratio becomes the opposite. 50.5% of all 24-year-old and under licensed drivers are male, 49.5% are female.
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