If your next trip abroad includes getting behind the wheel, now is the time to acquaint yourself with some of the basics for safe and legal driving. The U.S. Passports & International Travel division of the U.S. Department of State offers comprehensive resources covering the requirements for individual countries. Spend some time on their website and you should find most everything you need in the way of rules and regulations.
What about a driver’s license?
Most countries require a valid driver’s license and insurance and often do not recognize a U.S. license as valid. But many will accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). These permits are available through the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Check with the embassy of your destination country first to see what’s required.
More ways to keep rolling
- Review your own auto insurance before you go. It’s unlikely your policy will cover you abroad. Check to see what your car rental company offers and whether it meets the minimum requirements. You may want to consider buying additional insurance.
- Review road signage for your destination country, and make sure you know what each sign means. Signs and symbols can be quite different from what you are accustomed to at home. Guidebooks often include a section on traffic signals and road signs, and may keep you from getting a speeding ticket or breaking a local rule.
- Beware the dreaded parking citation. In many countries, especially in the densely populated historic centers, parking can be tightly regulated and rules can change depending on the time of day. It’s not unheard of for a returning traveler to find an unexpected fee on a post-trip credit card bill. Local police departments may contact your car rental company to track you down so they can bill you for a parking or driving infraction, and the car rental company passes the cost of processing that information along to you.
If you do get into some kind of trouble
If you have a SafeTrip Travel Protection plan, call the 24/7 Emergency Response Center number on your ID card for assistance in answering questions or finding an attorney where you are.
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